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Understanding Nuances of Civil Sexual Assault Lawsuits, Pursuing Criminal Charges and Lessons Learned

Speaker(s): Annika K. Martin, Elizabeth Fegan, Lynn Ellenberger
Recorded on: Jun. 23, 2021
PLI Program #: 327224

Beth is on the vanguard in the legal battles surrounding sexual assault, abuse and harassment. She has led sex trafficking claims against disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, and is a leader in claims of sexual abuse and complicity.

While working on the front lines of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, Beth has fought for female students abused by a University of Southern California health center gynecologist. She also settled a nationwide class action alleging sexual harassment on behalf of 16,000 current and former female employees of a commercial property brokerage firm. This case in particular is an example of Beth’s history of successfully and creatively tailoring results for the benefit of victims nationwide. With Beth’s streamlined claims process, class members were awarded up to $150,000 each.

Beth also fights for women in her own profession. She authored “An Opportunity or Landmine: Promoting Gender Diversity From The Bench” (The Federal Lawyer, May 2016) and participated in The Duke Judicial Law Center’s Distinguished Lawyers conference on “Guidelines and Best Practices Addressing Chronic Failure to Diversify Leadership Positions in the Practice of Law.”

Courts regularly appoint Beth to lead national class action cases, citing her robust experience, legal prowess and dedication to excellence and equity.

In 2019, Beth and her husband, Timothy Scott, founded FeganScott, a national law firm specializing in class action cases, high-stakes, contingent-fee litigation and community-driven legal needs. The practice manages a variety of complex class actions and high-stakes individual cases.

Prior to founding FeganScott, Beth launched the Chicago office of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, where she helped grow the firm significantly during her 15 years of leadership as Chicago managing partner. Before that, she was partner at The Wexler Firm in Chicago, where she launched her plaintiffs’-side career as interim managing partner.

Additionally, as an associate at Shefsky & Froelich in Chicago, Beth served in several local government appointments, including positions as special assistant corporation counsel to the City of Chicago, the Chicago Park District and the Public Building Commission of Chicago. She also served on special master teams in federal and state court.

Beth earned her Juris Doctor from Loyola University Chicago School of Law, where she also taught legal writing and served as editor-at-large for the Loyola Law Journal.

Super Lawyers Magazine has honored Beth as an Illinois Super Lawyer annually since 2016. Best Lawyers named her a Woman of Influence. She is among Lawdragon’s 500 Leading Lawyers in America.

Lynn, a legal veteran of nearly three decades, has extensive trial and appellate experience in courts around the country. In 2019, Lynn launched the Pittsburgh office of FeganScott, where she focuses on the firm’s fight against sexual abuse, employment discrimination, sexual harassment, consumer fraud and civil rights violations.

Before joining FeganScott, Lynn was an assistant federal public defender in the Western District of Pennsylvania, where she fought for the constitutional and civil rights of death-sentenced individuals and persons serving lengthy prison sentences. Lynn secured life-changing legal victories for her clients, including overturning improper death sentences and, in one instance, she obtained her client’s release after 28 years in prison. Additionally, one of Lynn’s clients is on the National Registry of Exonerations.

Prior to serving as an assistant federal public defender, Lynn was a partner at the Chicago law firm Shefsky & Froelich, where she represented businesses and governmental agencies in trial and appellate proceedings.

After law school, Lynn was law clerk to Honorable Maurice B. Cohill, Jr. of the United States District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania. Lynn earned her law degree from Vanderbilt University School of Law and received the Junius I. Allison Prize for Public Interest Work. She received her bachelor’s degree in economics with honors from Washington and Jefferson College, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa.

Lynn is a sought-after speaker and has published articles on mental illness, intellectual disabilities, the death penalty, appellate practice, medical liability and a variety of business-related issues.

Lynn is also an avid tennis player, writes a tennis blog and generally tries to keep up with her teenaged daughter on the court. Together they have organized tennis community service events, which provide free tennis racquets and instruction to local children in need.

Annika K. Martin is a partner in the firm’s New York office and has represented plaintiffs since 2005 in environmental, mass tort, consumer protection, and sexual abuse cases.

In May 2020, Annika was appointed Interim Class Counsel for the plaintiffs in the University of Michigan / Dr. Robert E. Anderson sexual abuse litigation pending before Judge Victoria A. Roberts in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

Annika also serves as court-appointed Co-Lead Class Counsel representing women who were sexually abused by gynecologist George Tyndall, M.D., in a class action against Tyndall and the University of Southern California. Plaintiffs and class members are women who saw Tyndall at the USC Student Health Clinic during his tenure there. From 1989 through 2016, Tyndall was the only full-time gynecologist on staff at USC’s Student Health Clinic. The lawsuit alleges Tyndall used this position of trust and authority to repeatedly sexually abuse the Plaintiffs and potentially thousands of other class members, and that despite that USC received numerous complaints of Tyndall’s sexually abusive behavior, dating back to at least the year 2000, USC actively and deliberately concealed Tyndall’s sexual abuse for years, continuing to grant Tyndall unfettered sexual access to the female USC students in his care.

This case is of particular importance to Annika because she herself is an alumnus of USC’s law school. On behalf of Tyndall’s victims, Annika helped negotiate a $215 million settlement with USC and Dr. Tyndall; the settlement also requires USC to make sweeping institutional changes to ensure something like this never happens again on campus. The settlement received final approval from the court in February 2020. See

Annika represents clients in a federal sexual assault class action lawsuit in Denver against Frontier Inc. alleging the airline failed to have and follow policies to prevent, report, and respond to sexual assaults of passengers on its flights. Similarly, Annika represents women who were sexually assaulted and harassed by obstetrician/gynecologist Patrick Sutton, M.D., in a class action against Sutton and Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasedena, California.

Annika also represents two former students in their lawsuits against The Hotchkiss School. John Doe’s suit alleges that, during his two years at the Hotchkiss School in the 1980s, John Doe was subjected to ritual hazing of a sexual nature by older student-proctors and was raped by a male teacher who was known to the School as a pedophile who had abused numerous other male students at the School. Richard Roe’s suit alleges that, during Roe’s time as a student at the School in the 1990s, that same male teacher groomed and sexually assaulted Roe in much the same way as he had Doe.

Annika represents consumers in class action lawsuits filed in federal courts in California and Georgia against Mercedes-Benz USA and Daimler AG over allegations that defects in the vehicle HVAC systems lead to the growth of noxious mold that spews extremely unpleasant odors throughout the vehicles during use. The lawsuit seeks an effective permanent fix for the problem, as well as monetary damages for affected Mercedes-Benz owners and lessees. Watch a report from WSB-TV in Atlanta, Georgia on the Mercedes-Benz AC Mold litigation.

Annika serves as court-appointed Co-Lead counsel in In re General Motors Corp. Air Conditioning Marketing and Sales Practices Litigation, MDL 2818, representing owners and lessees of certain GM trucks with allegedly defective air conditioning systems that repeatedly fail and cost thousands of dollars to repair each time.

Annika’s previous successes include the class action litigation against BP, Transocean, Halliburton, and the other companies responsible for the Deepwater Horizon oil rig blowout in the Gulf of Mexico and the worst oil spill in U.S. history. Among other significant roles, Annika was a key member of the small team that negotiated settlements that have paid out over $11.6 billion so far to compensate individuals and businesses across the Gulf Coast harmed by the Spill.

Annika also served as court-appointed Pro Se Liaison counsel in In re New England Compounding Pharmacy Products Liability Litigation, MDL 2419, the Multidistrict Litigation arising out of the 2012 meningitis outbreak caused by contaminated medication manufactured by New England Compounding Pharmacy (NECC). Annika’s work helped result in settlements totaling $227.8 million with NECC and the hospitals and clinics that unlawfully purchased and administered contaminated medication to the victims.

Annika’s published works include “Stick a Toothbrush Down Your Throat: An Analysis of the Potential Liability of Pro-Eating Disorder Websites,” Texas Journal of Women & the Law, Volume 14 Issue 2, Spring 2005 and “How to Stop Worrying and Love Predictive Coding,” Trial Magazine, January 2016.

An active member of the legal community, Annika is the immediate past Chair of the Class Action Litigation Group within the American Association for Justice. Annika serves on the Leadership Council for the Sedona Conference’s Working Group 1 (Electronic Discovery Retention and Production), and co-founded the Complex Litigation E-Discovery Forum, an annual e-discovery conference for plaintiffs-side complex litigation practitioners. Annika speaks and writes regularly on issues of class actions, mass torts, e-discovery, and diversity in legal practice.

In 2018, Annika won a Certificate of Recognition from the American Association for Justice. The rarely-given award acknowledges AAJ members who have made important and unique contributions to the organization through membership, education, leadership, and/or fundraising to sustain and strengthen the AAJ.