Consumer protection class defense attorneys are well-acquainted with prolific class action filer, Spencer Sheehan of Sheehan & Associates.  This month, Judge Seeger of the Northern District of Illinois issued an extraordinary order, after dismissing a class action filed by Mr. Sheehan, required Mr. Sheehan to provide a list of all of his class action filings since 2020, accompanied by a statement as to each whether the complaint survived a motion to dismiss. See Matthews v. Polar Corp., No. 1:22-cv-00649 (order dated 4/6/23).  Judge Seeger's order stated in part, "By all appearances, attorney Sheehan keeps bringing cases about how to read product labels, but he can't seem to read the tea leaves from the judiciary."

Mr. Sheehan's filing in response to the court's order includes 13-page spreadsheet and provides extraordinary insight into the track record of most prolific consumer class action attorney in the United States.  By my rough count, between January 1, 2020 and April 7, 2023, Mr. Sheehan filed 553 complaints.  Of those, 120 (21.6%) were dismissed outright and 35 (6.3%) survived a motion to dismiss at least in part.  The remaining 398 (roughly 72%) were either settled or are still pending.  Mr. Sheehan's filings have slowly been increasing in number each year, and were it not for the court's order, which appears to have chilled his filing pace, he was on pace in 2023 to surpass his prior record of 187 complaints in 2022.  

Among other class action defense bar attorneys working regularly in the food and beverage and consumer packaged goods verticals, there is something akin to a dark humor regarding this track record.  Entire "year in review" presentations discuss "trends" that now appear, in retrospect, to emanate largely from his law firm alone.  

If one assumes Mr. Sheehan settled roughly 300 of the filings since 2020, which seems plausible in light of the reported data, and even assuming an average of just $20,000 per settlement, Mr. Sheehan and his clients would have recovered roughly $6 million since 2020.

From the defense perspective, if one assumes defense costs of $75,000 per case, which may be low, that amounts to nearly $42 million in defense legal fees incurred due to his cases alone.  

Judge Seeger has not yet ruled following Mr. Sheehan's submission, so it remains to be seen how the court will exercise its authority.  Perhaps the mere fact of having to respond to such an order will cause a shift in filing patterns.