John’s practice is devoted to representing consumers in class actions challenging unfair and deceptive business practices, and serving as relators’ counsel in qui tam “whistleblower” actions. For his successful representation of consumers victimized by predatory business practices, John has been recognized as a Massachusetts Super Lawyer. For the past fourteen years he has co-chaired the Practising Law Institute’s Annual Institute on Consumer Financial Services Litigation, held in New York and Chicago. At the end of 2011, John, with his law partner Elizabeth Ryan, left Roddy, Klein & Ryan, the Boston class action firm, to accept a partnership at Bailey & Glasser and open its Boston office.
Lowe v. Ford Motor Credit
$22 million settlement on behalf of state-wide class of car owners subject to flawed repossession practices.
Malacky v. Huntington National Bank
$15 million settlement in favor of state-wide class of car owners sent flawed repossession notices.
Cooley v. F.N.B. Corporation
$14 million settlement on behalf of state-wide class of car owners allegedly deprived of post-repossession disclosures.
US ex rel. Constance Conrad v. Forest Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
$24.5 million paid to settle civil portion of qui tam claims that Forest sold unapproved thyroid drug.
Conrad v. Schwarz Pharma Inc.
$22 million settlement resolving civil portion of qui tam allegations that Schwarz and others submitted false quarterly reports to the government related to a pair of drugs.
US ex rel. Constance Conrad v. Eon Labs, Inc.
$3.48 million qui tam settlement resolving civil claims that Eon misrepresented the Medicaid eligibility of its oral nitroglycerin products.
Stein, Stafford v. Schering-Plough Corp.
$56 million paid to settle civil portion of qui tam claims that Schering-Plough marketed drugs off-label for uses that had not been approved by the FDA.
Bilewicz v. Fidelity Investments
Bailey & Glasser was named co-lead counsel representing nearly 100,000 current and former employees of Fidelity, who had been compelled to invest in Fidelity mutual funds despite the availability of better, cheaper investment options. The case settled for $12 million plus reforms to Fidelity’s employee 401(k) plan.
Krakauer v. Dish Network. L.L.C.
Obtained a $20.5 million verdict in a class action trial against Dish Network. The class, led by class representative Dr. Thomas Krakauer of Bahama, North Carolina, alleged Dish was liable for more than 51,000 telemarketing calls placed by a defunct DISH dealer to persons whose telephone numbers were on the National Do Not Call Registry. The jury found DISH liable for all calls, and awarded $400 per violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. The Court then increased the jury award up to $61.34 million because we proved willfulness.
Assistant Attorney General, Consumer Protection Division, Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General, 1980-1985
Legislative Counsel to the Attorney General, 1986-1987
Memberships and Affiliations
Fellow, American College of Consumer Financial Services Lawyers
National Association of Consumer Advocates
Appleseed Foundation, Advisory Board
National Consumer Law Center, Partners’ Council
Consumer Financial Services Law Report, Board of Advisors
Volunteer Lawyers Project
John regularly writes and speaks on class action practice and consumer financial services law, and has published dozens of articles on these topics.
“The Evolution of Arbitration” in Consumer Financial Services Institute (Practicing Law Institute, Feb., 2010);
“Fallout From The Subprime Mortgage Crisis” (U.S. Bankruptcy Court Foreclosure Mediation Symposium, June 2009);
“Foreclosure Avoidance Strategies” (Suffolk University Law School, Center for Advanced Legal Studies, May 2008);
“A Brief History of Refund Anticipation Loan Litigation” in Consumer Financial Services Litigation Institute (Practicing Law Institute, Mar., 2006);
“Class Actions In Bankruptcy Court: Jurisdiction and Remedial Issues” in Consumer Financial Services Litigation (Practicing Law Institute, Apr., 2002);
“The Crossroads of Privacy and Credit: Class Liability Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act” in Consumer Financial Services Litigation(Practicing Law Institute, Apr., 2001);
“Unrefunded Credit Insurance Premiums: A Multi-Million Dollar Constructive Trust” in Consumer Financial Services Litigation(Practicing Law Institute, Apr., 2000);
“Measuring Liability for the Sale of Ancillary Products: Credit Insurance” in Banking and Consumer Financial Services Summit(Fulcrum Information Services, Nov., 1999);
“Remedies For Systemic Violations Of The Bankruptcy Discharge” in Consumer Financial Services Litigation (Practicing Law Institute, Apr., 1999);
“Deconstructing TILA” 14 Review of Banking and Financial Services 87 (May, 1998);
“Reversing Field: Is There A Trend Toward Abrogating Truth in Lending?” in Consumer Financial Services Litigation (Practicing Law Institute, May, 1998);
“Reaffirmation Abuses: Class Remedies,” in Consumer Financial Services Litigation (Practicing Law Institute, Dec., 1997);
“Developments in Residential Mortgage Litigation,” 13 Review of Banking and Financial Services 83 (Apr., 1997);
“Yield Spread Premium Upselling and Mortgage Payoff Fees,” in Consumer Financial Services Litigation (Practicing Law Institute, Apr., 1997);
Contributor, Consumer Law Pleadings, Volumes 9 (2003); 8 (2002); 5 (1999), 3 (1997) and 1 (1995), National Consumer Law Center (annual compendium of pleadings from significant consumer litigation nationwide);
“Residential Mortgage Litigation,” in Financial Services Litigation (Practicing Law Institute, 1996) (with Daniel A. Edelman);
Contributor, Truth in Lending, National Consumer Law Center (3d. Ed. 1995);
“Truth in Lending Rescission as Foreclosure Defense” in National Consumer Rights Litigation Conference (published materials, National Consumer Law Center, 1994).
“Consumer Class Actions: Advantages and Disadvantages of State and Federal Forums,” Boston Bar Association, Continuing Legal Education Seminars, 2003;
“Consumer Protections Against Unfair Debt Collection And Credit Reporting Practices,” Mass. Continuing Legal Education, Inc., 2002;
“Class Liability Under The FCRA” prepared for the Florida Bar Association Mid-Year Conference (June 2001);
“Show Me The Money (State Analogs to Federal Consumer Credit Protection Laws),” Mass. Continuing Legal Education, Inc., 2000;
“Emerging Trends in Class Action Litigation,” prepared for the Florida Bar Association Mid-Year Conference (Jan. 1999);
“Defending Foreclosures,” Mass. Continuing Legal Education, Inc., 1999 (in conjunction with the Volunteer Lawyers Project);
“Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and Consumer Credit Issues,” Mass. Continuing Legal Education, Inc., 1999;
“Representing Low Income Clients,” Mass. Continuing Legal Education, Inc., 1999 (in conjunction with the Volunteer Lawyers Project);
“Representing Debtors,” Mass. Continuing Legal Education, Inc., 1998 (in conjunction with the Volunteer Lawyers Project);
“Consumer Finance Regulation,” Mass. Continuing Legal Education, Inc., 1997;
“Sophisticated Collection Issues,” Mass. Continuing Legal Education, Inc., 1997;
“Trends in Consumer Credit Class Action Litigation,” prepared for the Florida Bar Association Mid-Year Conference (Jan. 1997);
“Chapter 93A Rights and Remedies,” Mass. Continuing Legal Education, Inc., 1986, 1987, 1994;
“The Tin Men: Predatory Lending,” National Institute of Municipal Law Enforcement Officials, 1991, National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials, 1992;
“State Unfair and Deceptive Practices Laws,” ABA National Teleconference on Consumer Law, 1986 (co-authored with former Massachusetts Attorney General Francis X. Bellotti).
U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
U.S. District Court for Massachusetts
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
Q: Let’s start out with a general overview of your practice. How do you describe to recruits or family what it is you do?
A: There are certain businesses that prey upon people who don’t have the economic resources, sophistication, or education to truly shop for credit. We bring class actions against these businesses to try and get a fair shake for people that they are taking advantage of.
Q: What do you like about your practice? What is professionally satisfying?
A: We like to think we’re on the side of the angels. Without help from lawyers who understand the workings of the subprime market virtually all of the people that I have described would not have any way of obtaining justice.
Q: What’s the most interesting thing you’ve done as a lawyer?
A: In the late 90s we brought a series of class actions against major retailers and credit card companies that tricked people into waiving their bankruptcy rights. We negotiated settlements in those cases that gave every class member a 100% refund, plus interest, in checks that were distributed to all – without any claim forms. And we obtained injunctions that changed the industrywide practice that we challenged. To the best of my knowledge these cases represent the best per capita class-action settlement (up to 181% of actual damages) of the last fifteen years.
Q: What cases are keeping you busy these days?
A: We have several whistleblower cases pending involving alleged fraud in the pharmaceutical industry. We are also involved in a challenge to deceptive marketing of health products, debt collectors who retroactively add waived interest to consumers’ credit card bills, “cramming” schemes which deceptively place charges on consumers’ cell phone bills, and a number of novel frauds involving mobile payment systems.
Q: What were/are some of the challenges you face?
A: There’s no question that the biggest challenge we face is the use of mandatory arbitration clauses, which contain waivers of a consumer’s right to a jury, to a trial before a judge, and to participate in a class action. But there is hope on the horizon. President Obama issued an executive order prohibiting the use of mandatory arbitration clauses in certain federal employment contracts, precisely because these contract terms deprive people of their rights. And the CFPB’s recent report showing arbitration to be nothing more than a cynical device to avoid liability for defrauding consumers holds out some promise of a return to a level playing field.
Q: Are there any trends you are seeing that stand out?
A: Two things: 1. Lower-income consumers are growing increasingly aware of the power of social media, both to express their outrage about predatory practices they’ve been subject to and to reach out and find firms like ours, which have long experience and a demonstrated track record representing consumers in lawsuits that stop fraudulent business practices, and recover the money that those consumers have lost.
2. The silver lining to the emergence of mobile payments fraud is that there is an electronic trail that experts can follow back to the perpetrator. This record helps to establish the commonality and uniformity of the conduct, which goes a long way toward convincing a court that a class should be certified.
Q: Is this the type of law you imagined yourself practicing while in law school?
A: When I was in law school I always imagined that I would work for the state Attorney General for a number of years doing consumer or environmental work, and then go on to a career as an incredibly successful novelist. Still working on that second part.
Q: What do you wish you had known or done differently in school? Or, put another way, do you have advice now for current law school students?
A: The professor in my first-year contracts class did not use a textbook. The only book we had was a compendium of the Uniform Commercial Code. He would give lectures about various provisions of the Code and then we would all go back and read, for example, six sections of article 9, on secured transactions. He might as well have been teaching the class in Russian.
Six months earlier I was an English major reading Shakespeare and now I was parsing the UCC – I literally went from the sublime to the mundane. Over Thanksgiving break I bought the law student’s equivalent of what today would be “Contracts for Dummies” and learned in about five hours what this guy spent three months failing to communicate.
That’s a long-winded preface to this point: nothing you learn in law school is rocket science. It’s all pretty much common sense combined with cultural prejudice, put down in writing. The sooner you realize that there’s someone behind the curtain, the better off you are.
Q: How has your practice changed since the early part of your career?
A: I spent the first decade of my career doing public interest law in the Attorney General’s office. Although I still consider what I do to be public interest law, the last 20 years have been spent in the private sector.
Q: How did you come to your position at Bailey & Glasser. Was this something you were always interested in doing?
A: In 2005, I found myself in federal court in the northern district of Illinois, standing next to Brian Glasser and John Barrett, as my former firm was objecting to a reverse auction settlement in a class-action against H&R Block that threatened to wipe out our Block case in Ohio and Bailey & Glasser’s in West Virginia. We hit it off and worked together to ultimately broker a nationwide settlement on much more favorable terms for consumers victimized by H&R Block’s refund anticipation loan program. That initial chance meeting and collaboration led to a decision to join the Bailey & Glasser partnership in 2011 and open the firm’s Boston office.