- By [ Deborah White ]
The hallmarks of the successful retail industry — hundreds of millions of consumers and employees —make the industry an irresistible target of the well-organized plaintiffs' bar, which gins up lucrative mass action litigation targeting retailers. Retailers spend large sums of money each year fighting meritless lawsuits. And retail corporate counsel expend valuable time and resources responding to the steady drumbeat of demand letters and complaints.
The RLC Defense Division, established in 2019, aims to help retail corporate counsel defend their companies from mass action litigation at the front end — before the litigation becomes an expensive "wave" that only benefits plaintiffs’ counsel. The Defense Division is not focused on tort reform or convincing policy makers to change the litigation landscape; rather, we are dedicated to helping our members learn from each other and select outside counsel. Most importantly, the Defense Division is open to all members of your retail legal team and offers educational resources, alerts, and the opportunity for collaboration within the retail legal community.
Partnering with Skadden and McGuireWoods, the RLC Defense Division is developing unique new tools to help retailers "see around the corner." These tools will help retailers find out where the plaintiffs' bar intends to strike and provide practical solutions before they do.
BI-ANNUAL IN-PERSON & VIRTUAL MEETINGS
The RLC hosts meetings twice each year to allow retail and law firm members to share insights, learn from one another, and prepare for common attacks. The meetings often feature CLE-eligible sessions delivered by expert attorneys.
In 2020, the RLC began offering monthly calls for its retail members on a wide variety of timely topics, such as COVID litigation, diversity and inclusion suits, employment issues, and specific legislation such as PAGA and BIPA. Each call features an outside counsel expert who can provide insights and practical take-aways for attendees on how to deal with the daily concerns that crop up around these issues.
The RLC develops concise alerts tailored to busy retail corporate counsel to give them the litigation highlights they need, as well as practical tips. Alerts help to keep your team aware of new types of complaints, emerging trends, and legislation that could result in litigation.
Targeted Collaboration On Emerging Litigation Issues
The RLC has also begun to combine forces between its Defense and Appellate Divisions to tackle specific issues, especially litigation waves, that target the retail industry. The RLC both created amicus briefs and developed collaboration between retailers to defend themselves against a round of Braille gift card litigation last year, and this year did the same with a spate of cases regarding sales tax on mask sales in Pennsylvania this year. The RLC’s goal is to help retailers both spot these types of litigation waves early and to help retailers weather them as smoothly as possible.
Courtside Weekly Newsletter
To keep retailers abreast of key decisions, new litigation, and ongoing regulatory and court activities, the RLC launched its Courtside newsletter in 2021. Courtside also provides updates on the RLC’s activities, and includes a weekly survey on a lighthearted topic to bring the retail legal community closer together.
Helping retail corporate counsel defend their companies
"The Retail Litigation Center's Defense Division is dedicated to helping retail corporate counsel work together and with carefully curate outside counsel to proactively identify and quickly address meritless mass action lawsuits. Amy Turk (McGuireWoods), Meredith Slawe (Skadden) and their teams were selected after an extensive vetting process, not only for their litigation prowess, but for their deep understanding of the industry, their practical approach, and their commitment to the Defense Division's success. I encourage all major retailers to join the Retail Litigation Center to take advantage of the resources we are developing to help strengthen the industry."
- Chair, RLC – Executive Vice President, General Counsel
- Dollar General Corporation