The law firm of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro was thrust back into the spotlight on Wednesday after an open letter from the man they named as a plaintiff in a class action law suit against Apple claimed that the firm used his name without consent. In October 2005, the firm filed a suit against Apple Computer claiming that the company was knowingly shipping iPod nanos that scratched too easily.
In that suit, Jason Tomczak was listed as a plaintiff, but now he says that he never agreed to be involved in the case. Mr. Tomczak ultimately filed a suit against Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, and the law firm filed a counter suit against him.
In addition to dealing with Mr. Tomczak, the firm is now also dealing with a suit brought against it by three bottled water companies. A jury has ordered the firm to pay US$10.8 million in damages to the bottlers for allegedly damaging negotiations they were involved in with Nestle Waters and its Poland Spring brand.
In the suit, the plaintiffs claim that Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro was helping the companies in negotiations with Nestle Waters to settle a dispute over the companyis use over the term "natural spring water" when it was actually pumping its water from wells. During the negotiations, the firm jumped ship and filed class action claims in five states, causing Nestle to withdraw its settlement offer.
Tear of the Clouds co-owner Robert F. Kennedy Jr., one of the companies involved in the suit, commented "This was a case of the attorneys grabbing everything they could for themselves."
In Response, Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro lawyers claimed that it was the bottling companies that were greedy and sold out for a quick payoff. The law firmis response to the case is available in PDF format here.
Ultimately, there are rarely clear-cut winners in civil litigation cases, and Mr. Tomczak and Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro are both likely to walk away with bruises from their pending legal battle.