Product Liability and Mass Tort Litigation
Who We Are and What We Do
Our lawyers have spent the last thirty years defending clients against product liability and mass tort claims in more than two dozen states and across the federal court system. We handle both individual lawsuits and massive, multi-jurisdictional claims that threaten a company’s reputation and, sometimes, its ability to continue in business.
We have defended cases involving asbestos, benzene, fertilizers, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, trichloroethylene, and wood dust. We have defended heavy equipment cases—agricultural, automotive, construction, engine, and metal and woodworking gear. We have defended claims related to consumer goods, from children’s car seats and household furniture, to table saws and window coverings. We have dealt with all sorts of injuries: amputations, burns, paralysis, and strangulations. The litany of illnesses alleged in our cases would fill a medical textbook.
We share our clients’ goal of making great products that meet all reasonable expectations for safety. We advise clients at various stages of a product’s life cycle, from research and development to labeling and packaging. We also help them address remedial measures where necessary, including handling recalls with the Consumer Product Safety Commission, as well as subsequent document and information requests, and communications with the public. We understand both the regulatory framework involved and the inevitable interface with the tort system.
We insist that our clients receive the protections that our legal system provides. Their due process rights should not be diluted because of the scale or nature of the injuries alleged.
We have worked at every stage of litigation, from pre-filing negotiated settlements, through full-dress trials, and on to appeals. We understand this area both legally and strategically. For decades, we have coordinated national defense efforts on behalf of clients who were sued in many jurisdictions. We know how to create teams of local and national counsel. And we know how to defend our clients anywhere and everywhere they face accusations.
We offer our clients a serious competitive advantage: we can handle their cases and we can also try them. Our partners include six former federal prosecutors and another ten with extensive experience appearing in front of juries. Collectively, we have tried more than 200 cases to verdict. We are equally familiar with appellate practice. For example, we have argued before panels in 8 of the 13 federal circuits courts of appeal and in appellate courts in more than a dozen states.
Because we’re prepared to defend our clients in court, we offer them the freedom to explore creative settlements. We have long experience negotiating imaginative solutions to resolve cases outside the tort system. Sometimes those involve establishing an independent administrative structure where claims can be resolved expeditiously.
Our Approach and Results
We work for and with our clients. At the beginning of each matter, we establish the outcomes our clients seek, their tolerance for risk, and the costs they can handle. We offer a wide variety of billing arrangements, including hourly fees and many varieties of alternative fee structures. We believe in designing litigation budgets and meeting them. We do not surprise our clients. In every matter, we emphasize efficiency and effectiveness.
In our view, product liability and mass tort cases rest on the same theoretical basis. They require proof of causation and damage. These cases present similar issues of discovery, evidence, and the use of expert witnesses. We prepare by mastering the facts of each case and learning the business context in which they arise for our clients. We work with our clients to design a strategy and build a plan to execute it. We manage these cases carefully, seeking always to minimize the disruptions caused by discovery, depositions, and other aspects of our litigation system.
Mass tort cases present particular problems of case management, consolidation, and strategy. Our partners frequently appear in front of federal multi-district litigation (MDL) panels. We coordinate well with other defense counsel. And we are guided by a key principle: In mass torts, anything that happens anywhere potentially matters everywhere. That is why a cohesive strategy is indispensable. The dynamic quality of mass torts, however, demands that the strategy be constantly reevaluated to ensure that it meets the current threats to the client.
Our cases often turn on scientific evidence. We have extensive experience mastering the technical nuances of our cases. For us, this is all part of preparing for trial: before we can explain a case to a jury of lay people, we have to understand thoroughly the underlying principles and facts ourselves. The fruit of all that technical labor is the ability to speak directly and plainly to the people sitting in judgment of our clients.
We know the plaintiffs bar and they know us. We have credibility with them. They know our word is good, that we don’t posture, and that we will not blink under pressure.
We deliver value to our clients and align our pricing mechanism with our clients’ business needs and expectations. Our partners become fully invested in each matter because effective advocacy is a hands-on venture and we believe that lean litigation teams can deliver great results in a much more cost-effective way.
- Successfully tried major consolidated trials of dozens of plaintiffs’ cases alleging asbestos-related injuries. These cases served as bellwethers for the adjudication of thousands of other claims.
- Led a team that successfully resolved thousands of personal injury claims and two significant property damage claims arising from the events of 9/11.
- Successfully defended against a series of cases alleging a failure to properly instruct and warn about the use of children’s car seats.
- On behalf of a successor company, continued to defend against hundreds of individual asbestos-related injury cases.
- Resolved a nationwide class action with a unique settlement involving special master assessment and determination of product liability claims against a consumer cosmetic manufacturer.
- Successfully defended product liability claims against a food equipment manufacturer alleging inherent defects and failure to warn.