E. Michelle Drake

Biography

E. Michelle Drake is a Shareholder in Berger Montague’s Minneapolis office. With career settlements and verdicts valued at more than $150 million, Michelle has had great success at a young age and in a wide variety of cases.

Michelle focuses her practice primarily on consumer protection, improper credit reporting, and financial services class actions. Michelle is empathetic towards her clients and unyielding in her desire to win. Possessing a rare combination of an elite academic pedigree and real-world trial skills, Michelle has successfully gone toe-to-toe with some of the world’s most powerful companies.

Michelle helped achieve one of the largest class action settlements in a case involving improper mortgage servicing practices associated with force-placed insurance, resulting in a settlement valued at $110 million for a nationwide class of borrowers who were improperly force-placed with overpriced insurance. Michelle also served as liaison counsel and part of the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee on behalf of consumers harmed in the Target data breach, a case she helped successfully resolve on behalf of over ninety million consumers whose data was affected by the breach. In 2015, Michelle resolved a federal class action on behalf of a group of adult entertainers in New York for $15 million. Most recently, Michelle has been successful in litigating numerous cases protecting consumers’ federal privacy rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, securing settlements valued at over $10 million on behalf of tens of thousands of consumers harmed by improper background checks and inaccurate credit reports in the last two years alone.

Michelle was admitted to the bar in 2001 and has since served as lead class counsel in over fifty class and collective actions alleging violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, various states’ unfair and deceptive trade practices acts, breach of contract and numerous other pro-consumer and pro-employee causes of action.

Michelle serves on the Board of the National Association of Consumer Advocates, is a member of the Partner’s Council of the National Consumer Law Center, and is an At-Large Council Member for the Consumer Litigation Section for the Minnesota State Bar Association. She was named as a Super Lawyer in 2013-2018 and was named as a Rising Star prior to that. Michelle was also appointed to the Federal Practice Committee in 2010 by the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota. She has been quoted in the New York Times and the National Law Journal, and her cases were named as “Lawsuits of the Year” by Minnesota Law & Politics in both 2008 and 2009.

Michelle began her practice of law by defending high stakes criminal cases as a public defender in Atlanta. Michelle has never lost her desire to litigate on the side of the “little guy.”

Professional Leadership

Board Member for the National Association of Consumer Advocates, 2014 – Present

Partner’s Council Member for the National Consumer Law Center, 2014-Present

Minnesota Association for Justice, Board of Governors, 2016 – Present

Member of Ethics Committee for the National Association of Consumer Advocates, 2015

American Bar Association Member

Federal Bar Association Member

Minnesota State Bar Association Member

National Employment Lawyers Association Member

Public Justice

Business and Community Leadership

Speaking engagements:

“New Developments in Personal Jurisdiction,” Litigator’s Short Course, Minnesota Continuing Legal Education, Minneapolis, MN, February 2018

“Game Changing Blindspots that Create Privacy Liabilities – a Plaintiff-Side Litigator’s Insights,” Midwest Legal Conference on Privacy & Data Security, Minneapolis, MN, January 2018

“Federal Discovery: Winning Your Cases Early,” & “FCRA Report Disclosures: Issues and Litigation,” Consumer Rights Litigation Conference, National Consumer Law Center, Washington, D.C., November 2017

“Strategic Response to Recent Supreme Court Decision in Bristol-Meyers,” Class Action Symposium, Consumer Rights Litigation Conference, National Consumer Law Center, Washington, D.C., November 2017

“The Times They Are a-Changin’: The Role of Administrative Agencies and Private Counsel in the Trump Era,” American Bar Association Annual National Institute on Class Actions, Washington, D.C., October 2017

“The CFPB’s New Rule on Arbitration: What It Is and What Comes Next,” Minnesota State Bar Association Continuing Legal Education, Minneapolis, MN, September 2017

“Standing: Assessing Article III Jurisdiction One Year After Spokeo,” Minnesota State Bar Association Continuing Legal Education, Minneapolis, MN, June 2017

“House Resolution 985 – Update and Strategies for Defeat,” Presenter, Cambridge Forums – Plaintiffs’ Class Action Forum, Carefree, AZ, May 2017

“TCPA/Fair Credit Reporting Act/Debt Collection Issues,” Presenter, PLI 22nd Annual Consumer Financial Services Institute, Chicago, IL, May 2017

“Case Law and Recent Trial Updates,” Panelist, 2017 NACA Fair Credit Reporting Act Conference, Baltimore, MD, April 2017

“Using the FCRA for Criminal Background Checks” and “Spokeo Standing Challenges (and Opportunities),” Presenter, The Consumer Rights Litigation Conference, National Consumer Law Center, Anaheim, CA, October 2016

“Appeals: Whether, When and How,” Presenter, The Consumer Rights Litigation Conference Class Action Symposium, National Consumer Law Center, Anaheim, CA, October 2016

“Recent Developments in Food Class Action Litigation,” Presenter, Food & Beverage Litigation Conference: A Look at Hospitality, Liquor & Food Liability, Perrin Conferences, New York, NY, October 2016

“A Winning Hand or a Flop? After 50 Years, Are Class Actions Still Legit?,” Presenter, 20th Annual National Institute on Class Actions, American Bar Association, Las Vegas, NV, October 2016

“Changing Standard for Class Certification Including a Discussion of the Use of Experts and Statistical Sampling at Class Certification in Light of Spokeo and Tyson,” Chair and Presenter, 2016 Class Action Litigation Conference, Bridgeport Continue Education, San Francisco, CA, September 2016

“The U.S. Supreme Court’s Big New Decisions,” Presenter, Minnesota CLE, Minneapolis, MN, August 2016

“The Complete Lawyer Series: Consumer Law, Debt Collection and Credit Reporting,” Presenter, Minnesota CLE Webcast, July 2016

“What Does the Spokeo Decision Mean for Consumer Lawyers,” Panelist, National Association of Consumer Advocates Webinar, May 2016

“Hot Button Consumer Issues,” Panelist, 21st Annual Consumer Financial Services Institute, Practising Law Institute, Chicago, IL, May 2016

“Consumer Law,” Presenter, The Complete Lawyer Seminar, Minnesota Continuing Legal Education, May 2016

“Hot Topics in Class Actions,” Presenter, Bridgeport Class Action Conference, Hollywood, CA, April 2016

“Hot Button Consumer Issues,” Panelist, 21st Annual Consumer Financial Services Institute, Practising Law Institute, New York, NY, April 2016

Judicial Praise:

The Honorable Judge Paul A. Engelmayer of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York

The Court has previously commended counsel for their excellent lawyering. See Dkt 541 at 98 (“I have benefited by very high-quality briefing from both of you.”). The point is worth reiterating here. [Plaintiff’s Counsel] was energetic, effective, and creative throughout this long litigation. The Court found [Plaintiff’s Counsel’s] briefs and arguments first-rate. And the documents and deposition transcripts which the Court reviewed in the course of resolving motions revealed the firm’s far-sighted and strategic approach to discovery….Further, unlike in many class actions, plaintiffs’ counsel did not build their case by piggybacking on regulatory investigation or settlement. … The lawyers …can genuinely claim to have been the authors of their clients’ success.

Hart v. RCI Hospitality Holdings, Inc., No. 09 Civ. 3043, 2015 WL 5577713 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 22, 2015) (granting final approval of the settlement and awarding attorneys’ fees and costs).

The Honorable Judge Richard H. Kyle of the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota

Well, I think you did a great job on this. I mean, I really do. It’s nice to see when cases go, and go quickly, and I know that it’s a little different than a lot of other cases but it still — you still have a lot of fooling around here that doesn’t have to be done, but it seems to me you folks have gotten it done the right way.

Bible v. Gen. Revenue Corp., 12-CV-1236 (D. Minn. Jan. 6, 2014) (transcript from preliminary approval hearing).

Prominent Judgments and Settlements

Rubio-Delgado & Moore v. Aerotek, Inc., Nos. 2:15-cv-2701, 2:16-cv-1066 (S.D. Ohio).  Serving as lead counsel, Ms. Drake obtained a $15 million settlement on behalf of a nationwide class of employees and applicants against a large temporary staffing company for alleged violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Bible v. United Student Aid Funds, Inc., No. 1:13-cv-00575 (S.D. Ind.).  Serving as co-lead counsel, Ms. Drake obtained a $23 million settlement on behalf of a nationwide class of borrowers against United Student Aid Funds, Inc. for alleged breach of contract and violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”).

Hillson v. Kelly Services, Inc., No. 2:15-cv-10803 (E.D. Mich.).  Serving as co-lead counsel, Ms. Drake obtained a $6.7 million settlement on behalf of a nationwide class of employees and applicants against a national staffing company.

Halvorson, et al. v. TalentBin, Inc., No. 3:15-cv-05166 (N.D. Cal.). Serving as lead counsel, Ms. Drake obtained a $1.5 million settlement on behalf of a nationwide class against a large consumer reporting agency for alleged violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Citibank Force-Placed Insurance Litigation, Nos. 5:12-cv-00820, 1:13-cv-353 (N.D.N.Y.) Ms. Drake obtained a settlement valued at $110 million in this consolidated class action on behalf of nationwide classes of borrowers whose mortgage loans were serviced by Citibank or CitiMortgage and who were force-placed with hazard, flood or wind insurance by Citi.

Arnett v. Bank of America, N.A., No. 3:11-cv-1372 (D. Or.). Co-Lead Counsel. Ms. Drake obtained a settlement of $31 million on behalf of a nationwide class of borrowers whose mortgage loans were serviced by Bank of America and who were force-placed with flood insurance by Bank of America.

Hart v. RCI Hospitality Holdings, Inc., No. 09 Civ. 3043, 2015 WL 5577713 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 22, 2015) Lead Counsel.  Ms. Drake achieved final approval of a settlement valued at $15 million on behalf of a certified class of 2,000 female adult entertainers who were improperly misclassified as independent contractors, denied the minimum wage, and required to pay a variety of unlawful fees and fines.

Farmer v. Bank of America, No. 5:11-cv-00935-OLG (W.D. Tex.) Lead Counsel. Ms. Drake obtained a $10 million settlement on behalf of Texas borrowers who were force-placed or otherwise improperly required to obtain insurance on their homes.

Hofstetter v. Chase, No. 10-cv-1313-WHA (N.D. Cal.) Lead Counsel. Ms. Drake obtained a $10 million settlement on behalf of a nationwide class of borrowers who were improperly force-placed with flood insurance.

Knights v. Publix Super Markets, Inc., No. 3:14-cv-00720 (M.D. Tenn.) Lead Counsel. Ms. Drake obtained a $6.8 million settlement in this Fair Credit Reporting Act case challenging Publix’s improper procedures for obtaining background checks on its employees.

Ernst v. DISH Network, LLC, DISH Network Service, LLC, and Sterling Infosystems, Inc., No. 12-cv-8794-LGS (S.D.N.Y.) Lead Counsel. Ms. Drake obtained a $4.75 million settlement with Sterling on Fair Credit Reporting Act claims against background check company Sterling for improperly reporting outdated criminal background information. Ms. Drake defeated DISH’s motion for summary judgment litigation against DISH is ongoing.

Singleton v. Domino’s Pizza, No. 8:11-cv-01823(DKC (D. Md.) Lead Counsel. Ms. Drake obtained a $2.5 million settlement on behalf of a nationwide class in this Fair Credit Reporting Act case which challenged Domino’s improper procedures for obtaining and using employment-related background checks. Ms. Drake successfully defeated a motion to dismiss in this case, establishing authoritative precedent on the impropriety of including liability releases in required disclosures.

Rasschaert v. Frontier, No. 11-cv-02963-DWF (D. Minn.) Lead Counsel. Ms. Drake secured a settlement whereby Frontier applied for a $9 million sales tax refund on behalf of a class of Minnesota internet customers from whom Frontier improperly collected sales tax.

Credentials

Education:

Law School

Harvard Law School, J.D. (2001), cum laude

Undergraduate

Harvard College, B.A. Government (1996), cum laude

Graduate

Oxford University, M.Sc. Sociology (1998)

Honors & Awards:

Named to the Top 50 2015 Women Minnesota Super Lawyers


2016 Chair of Minnesota State Bar Association Consumer Litigation Section, 2013 – 2015 Council Member At Large


Named to the Rising Stars list (2011 – 2012), Minnesota Super Lawyers (2013 – 2018), Minneapolis/St. Paul Magazine, and Minnesota Business Journal


Federal Practice Committee, U.S. District Court, Minnesota, Appointed 2010


Children’s Law Center of Minnesota Volunteer Attorney


Thurgood Marshall Defender Award, Massachusetts Committee for Public Counsel Services Recipient, 2001


Publications


  • “Hot Topics in Class Actions,” Bridgeport Class Action Conference Presentation, Hollywood, CA, April 2016.

  • “Wage and Hour Law: A Primer for Immigration Lawyers,” Continuing Legal Education Presentation, Philadelphia, PA, April 2016.

  • “Hot Button Consumer Issues,” 21st Annual Consumer Financial Services Institute Panel, New York, NY, April 2016.

  • “Privacy/Security Litigation Update-The Latest Word on Causes of Action, Standing, Damages & Remedies,”  2016 Midwest Legal Conference on Privacy & Data Security, January 2016

  • “Conducting Class Certification Hearings “National Consumer Law Center’s 24th Annual Consumer Rights Litigation Conference, Class Action Symposium, San Antonio, TX, November 2015.

  • “Using the FCRA for Employment Background Checks,” National Consumer Law Center’s 24th Annual Consumer Rights Litigation Conference, San Antonio, TX, November 2015.

  • “Nobody Rides for Free: Uber, Lyft, and Employment Classification in the Sharing Economy,” Minnesota Continuing Legal Education Seminar, Minneapolis, MN, October 2015.

  • “Background Checks & FCRA,” Texas State Bar Labor & Employment Section, San Antonio, TX, September 2015.

  • “Beyond the Headlines – What EVERY Lawyer Should Know About the U.S. Supreme Court’s Big New Decisions.” Minnesota Continuing Legal Education Seminar, Minneapolis, MN, August 2015.

  • “Financial and Criminal Background Checks.” National Employment Lawyers Association Annual Convention Presentation, Atlanta, GA, June 2015.

  • “The Complete Lawyer: Consumer Law.” Minnesota Continuing Legal Education Presentation, May 2015

  • “Protecting Your Plaintiffs and the Class: Rule 68 Offers and Other Pick-Off Tactics.” Impact Fund Class Action Conference, February 2015

  • “Be Careful What You Wish For: Trends in Arbitration.” ACI Wage & Hour Claims and Class Actions Summit Panel, January 2015

  • “Job Applicant Screening, Financial & Criminal Background Checks – Applicant Rights and Employer Best Practices.” Minnesota Continuing Legal Education Seminar, December 2014

  • “Data Harvesting, Background Checks, and the Fair Credit Reporting Act for Criminal Attorneys,” Criminal Law Section, Minnesota State Bar Association Presentation, November 2014.

  • “Job Applicant Screening Crash Course,” Upper Midwest Employment Law Institute, May 2014

  • Author. “Financial and Criminal Background Checks,” Job Applicant Screening: A Practice Guide, Minnesota Continuing Legal Education Publication, May 2014

  • “The Complete Lawyer: Quick Answers to Questions about Consumer Law.” Minnesota Continuing Legal Education Seminar, May 2014

  • “Employment Law 360.” Minnesota Continuing Legal Education Seminar, February 2014

  • “Precertification Discovery Strategies including Issues of Standing & Certification.” Bridgeport Class Action Conference, August 2013

  • “Beyond the Headlines – What Every Lawyer Should Know About the U.S. Supreme Court’s Big New Decision.” Minnesota Continuing Legal Education Seminar, August 2013

  • “The Complete Lawyer: Quick Answers to Questions about Consumer Law.” Minnesota Continuing Legal Education Seminar, June 2013

  • “The Misclassification Mess – What Do You Do If You Have Misclassified Workers as Exempt?” Upper Midwest Employment Law Institute, May 2013

  • “Housing Finance – Consumer Financial Services.” American Bar Association Business Law Section Spring Meeting Panel, April 2013

  • “5 Developments in E-Discovery.” The Civil Litigator’s Annual Short Course, Minnesota Continuing Legal Education, February 2013


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