Product Liability and Mass Tort Litigation

Our lawyers are recognized for their deep experience and success in handling a wide range of product liability and mass tort litigation in courts throughout the country. Our national practice entails representing many Fortune 500 companies in individual cases, class actions, multi-district litigation, and other coordinated proceedings alleging personal injury, environmental or chemical exposures, birth defects, food contamination, medical monitoring, property damage and other claims. The hallmark of our work is achieving our clients’ business and litigation objectives. We are trial lawyers who have successfully tried many cases to defense verdicts in numerous state and federal courts, but we also recognize that early resolution is often paramount to our clients. Our track record of winning cases on summary judgment and Daubert motions, obtaining dismissals and voluntary discontinuances, and achieving favorable settlements also speaks to achieving our clients’ goals. We develop and deploy strategies to resolve major litigations early on--providing our clients with the certainty they need to focus on their business, not litigation.

We know and understand our clients’ products, businesses and industries. In many instances, our client relationships span decades, and we have represented one of the world’s largest chemical companies since World War II. The business and litigation challenges facing our clients have changed over the decades, but what has remained constant is our commitment to handling our clients’ product liability and mass tort litigation effectively and efficiently. We have defended cases involving chemicals, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, consumer goods, food, industrial equipment, asbestos, lead pigment and tobacco, with claims ranging from cancer, burns, severe injury or death to requests for medical monitoring, property damage, and governmental cost recovery. In coordinating the defense of these complex cases, our role is as varied as the products and claims at issue. We serve as national products counsel to a global manufacturer of cranes, hoists and associated lifting products, and we serve as regional (New York and Eastern Canada) coordinating counsel for a manufacturer of diverse consumer and industrial products. For some clients, we serve as local counsel, and for others we coordinate the scientific aspect of the legal defense to product liability claims across the country.

For new and established clients alike, we instill our litigation approach with knowledge, experience and creativity. Product liability and mass tort litigation is squarely at the intersection of law and science. Our lawyers know the science relevant to the challenges faced by our clients--many of our lawyers have advanced scientific degrees in fields including epidemiology, medicine, biochemistry, neurobiology, chemistry, pharmacology, physiology, psychology, neurology and engineering. We delve deeply into the facts and scientific claims and defenses to identify pivotal issues and strategies. Our work involves complex, cutting edge scientific and engineering issues that not only drive the litigation but often determine the trajectory and outcome.

We are just as interested in helping our clients prevent litigation, as in achieving litigation successes. Our experience in all aspects of product liability litigation provides a strong foundation for counseling clients in litigation avoidance strategies. We provide proactive risk management and mitigation strategies regarding product development, compliance, labeling, warnings and advertising, as well as product recall issues. We also assess the potential risk associated with our clients’ acquisition of products that are in litigation or have the potential to be the subject of litigation.

Noteworthy Matters

  • We assisted with the successful defense of our client and other manufacturers in the high fructose corn syrup industry regarding claims that the manufacturers failed to warn consumers about the health risks posed by consuming food products manufactured with high fructose corn syrup. The claims were dismissed by a federal appellate court.
  • In a case alleging injury from the use of a table saw manufactured by our client, we were able to prove, at trial, that the saw was not defective, and that the plaintiff had lied about key aspects of his claims as to both liability and damages. The case went to verdict and the jury returned a “no cause” verdict for the defense.
  • We defended an international manufacturer of hoisting and lifting equipment in an Illinois suit brought by an industrial employee who was injured after a hoist allegedly failed and dropped a 1,500-pound load on the employee’s arm. Our investigation and discovery efforts revealed that the statute of repose barred some claims, that the plaintiff was negligent, and that there was no basis for liability. The court granted our motion for summary judgment and dismissed all claims approximately one year after the suit was commenced against our client.
  • In a case alleging that a chain sling manufactured by our client failed while the plaintiff was using it in the course of his employment, we were able to demonstrate that the plaintiff and his co-worker overloaded the chain sling, resulting in the accident. Consequently, the plaintiff agreed not to pursue a suit against our client.
  • We eliminated a claim that a gas valve manufactured by our client malfunctioned or was otherwise defective, resulting in an explosion and fire that claimed one life. By engaging in extensive and assertive pre-action discovery (including multiple product inspections and examinations), we were ultimately able to demonstrate that our client’s product was not at fault. The plaintiff elected not to file suit against our client.
  • We were asked to undertake the defense of a case immediately before trial, in which the plaintiff alleged that he suffered a crush injury to his foot and ankle while using an industrial scissor lift manufactured by our client. We were able to secure important evidence that prior counsel was not able to obtain, and negotiated a favorable settlement for our client while motions for summary judgment were pending.
  • In a wrongful death case alleging that a chain sling manufactured by our client was defective and failed while decedent was using it to move a large steel coil, we were able to establish that the chain sling had been modified by the plaintiff’s employer and that the component of the sling that ultimately failed was not manufactured by our client. The plaintiff chose not to file suit against our client as a result.
  • We successfully defended a global food processing corporation in a product liability lawsuit involving claims that it failed to warn a commercial baker that commercial flour could allegedly cause an oven explosion.
  • We defended a case alleging that a ladder manufactured by our client broke under normal use, that the ladder was defectively designed and manufactured, and that plaintiff was rendered paraplegic as a result of falling from the ladder. Through aggressive investigation, we were able to demonstrate that the plaintiff and his co-workers were not truthful about the facts of the ladder’s collapse, that he and his co-workers improperly used the ladder, and the ladder was not defective. The case subsequently settled on a significantly less-than cost of defense basis.
  • We worked proactively in responding to a claim that a plaintiff was injured when the chain on a hoist “ran out,” causing the load suspended from that hoist to fall and strike him. We were able to demonstrate that the hoist, as it was designed and manufactured, was equipped with a proper end stop, that the hoist could not have left our client’s factory without that end stop in place, and that the plaintiff’s employer must have subsequently modified the hoist to replace the end stop with a device that was not approved by our client for use with the hoist. The plaintiff chose not to file suit against our client as a result.
  • In a case claiming that a portable air conditioning unit manufactured by our client was defective and caused a fire resulting in extensive property damage, we successfully demonstrated that evidence involving the claim had been spoliated and secured a stipulated dismissal of all claims against our client.

 

Product Liability and Mass Tort Litigation