Complex and Commercial Litigation
Erica has significant experience representing entities of varying size both as plaintiffs and as defendants in complex commercial actions and general litigation matters in state and federal trial and appellate courts. Litigation matters have involved a wide variety of legal topics impacting businesses such as business torts, contract disputes, consumer protection claims, employment disputes, fraud, enforcing and defending against claims regarding non-competition agreements, RESPA, TCPA, TILA, trade secrets, and trademark infringement. Erica has had substantial first chair and second chair experience in jury trials, bench trials, arbitrations, mediations, and appellate arguments.
Class Action Defense
Erica has had substantial first chair experience in high-stakes, statewide and nationwide class actions all over the country including victories in two multi-week class action bench trials. Erica has a successful track record of early victories in class actions achieved through defeat of class certification, securing dismissal of or summary judgment on the claims of the class representatives, and negotiating favorable settlements.
Representative cases are as follows:
Chultem v. Ticor Title Insurance, Co., Cook County Illinois Circuit Court Case No. 06 CH 09488; and Colella v. Chicago Title Insurance, Co., Cook County Illinois Circuit Court Case No. 06 CH 09489
Defense of title insurers against plaintiffs’ challenge to the split of title insurance premiums between title insurers and their agents as illegal kickbacks and unearned fees to the agents under RESPA as incorporated by the Illinois Title Insurance Act. Took over the defense of two consolidated class actions after the classes were certified. (Prior counsel were Kirkland and Ellis and the Bartlit Beck firm.) Served as lead defense counsel in a two-week bench trial in September 2013 where plaintiff consumers sought damages in excess of $250 million, trebled. The trial court entered judgment in favor of defendants, the court of appeals affirmed, and the Illinois Supreme Court denied the plaintiffs’ petition for leave to appeal.
Villanueva v. Fidelity National Title, Co., Santa Clara County, CA, Superior Court Case. No. 1-10-cv-173356
Co-lead defense counsel defending escrow holder in four-week certified class action bench trial over April and May 2014. Plaintiffs challenged, under California’s unfair competition law, the propriety of escrow consumers having to pay for overnight delivery fees and document preparation fees. Trial victory defeating claims for over $35 million and plaintiffs’ demand for $9 million in attorneys’ fees. Prior to the bench trial, successfully eliminated, through dispositive motion practice, six additional claims for which plaintiffs sought millions in additional damages, including punitive damages, against the defendant and two additional, affiliated companies. Continuing in defense of appeal.
France v. Ticor Title of Washington, Inc., Superior Court, King County, Wash., Case No. 12-2-25688-8-SEA
Defended escrow holder against certified class action where plaintiff consumers sought to recover reconveyance fees collected by an escrow holder. Obtained dismissal and summary judgment as to most causes of action pre-trial. Trial on final consumer protection claim resulted in a defense decision.
California Real Estate Software Class Actions
Defending title insurers, escrow holders, and other real estate service providers in seven putative class actions filed throughout California alleging various state law claims in connection with an alleged kickback scheme involving sublicense fees for management software.
Augenstein v. Coldwell Banker, U.S. District Court, S.D. Ohio Case No. 2:10-cv-191
Defended real estate broker against claims by plaintiff consumers who challenged the broker’s collection of an administrative fee in addition to the realtor’s sales commission. Obtained an agreed order of summary judgment in favor of defendants after the United States Supreme Court decided a pivotal RESPA issue in favor of defendants in Freeman v. Quicken Loans.
Northwestern University School of Law, J.D., 1994
Cornell University, A.B. with distinction in all subjects, 1991.
Cornell Club of Northeastern Ohio: Board Member, 2004-10.
Cornell Alumni Ambassador Admissions Network: Member.
Summer on the Cuyahoga: Board Member, 2005-09.
National Association of Women Business Owners: Former Corporate Partner Representative.
Arthritis Foundation of Cleveland: Member; Advisory Board, 2000-01.
American Bar Association Judicial Intern Opportunity Program: Volunteer.
AV® Preeminent Rated, Martindale-Hubbell.
Ohio Super Lawyers, 2011-2017.
“Ohio Rising Stars,” Ohio Super Lawyers, 2005, 2006, & 2010.
Admitted to the Ohio Bar, 1994.
Licensed to practice in all Ohio courts as well as before the U.S. District Courts for the Northern and Southern Districts of Ohio, the Eastern District of Michigan, and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
American Bar Association: Section of Litigation Leadership, 2003-2016
Cleveland Bar Association: Member. Member, Minority Clerkship Program Committee, 2004-06.