Product Liability

Our attorneys have litigated the entire spectrum of product liability claims — ranging from major disasters such as the Beverly Hills Fire litigation, commercial airline crashes and industrial explosions, to the more routine cases involving individual plaintiffs and single products.  The spectrum of products is equally broad — ranging from earthmoving equipment to automobiles, aluminum wire to aluminum ladders, medical appliances such as pedicle screws, prosthetic joints and endoscopic devices,  consumer goods, and industrial equipment.

Our attorneys have coordinated the defense of clients in product liability cases involving thousands of plaintiffs, and have directed and coordinated document production on a nationwide basis.  The effort in these areas of our product liability defense practice has led to extensive use of computer programming and paralegal assistance to eliminate duplicative attorney time, preserve and rapidly retrieve data and coordinate discovery efforts.  Efficiency in handling and coordinating large volumes of product liability litigation has become, therefore, a basic part of the Firm’s practice.

Our experience and current practice teaches that defending product liability claims cannot be formulaic.  Some types of claims — like asbestos cases — generally involve similar or identical theories, and defense strategies can be devised and refined on a broad scale.  Other types of cases arising from alleged design or manufacturing defects in consumer products require more individualized defense strategies depending upon the applicable statutes, factual and technical background and, of course, the injuries claimed.

In our view, the keys to successfully and economically defending product liability claims are experience, depth and resourcefulness.  We believe our Firm has all three.  Our past and current practice demonstrates that we have the legal ability and experience to handle any type of product liability claim.  As a regional law firm with over 200 lawyers and a large litigation practice, our depth is substantial.  Through our work with the asbestos industry, the tobacco industry and scores of other manufacturers over the years, we have learned to maximize opportunities to economize through innovative use of computer technology and paralegal assistance.

The Firm has an established procedure for handling product liability cases.  Upon initial referral, the claim is directed to a partner experienced in product liability defense located in the Firm office nearest the court in which the claim has been or most likely will be brought.  That partner immediately counsels with client representatives to obtain as much background information as necessary to make staffing decisions.  Attorneys and paralegals are assigned depending upon the nature of the claim and the particular experience and ability required for its defense.  Once the Firm’s defense team is designated, the team immediately consults with client representatives to identify areas in which expert testimony will be required.  Expert witnesses are interviewed and retained as promptly as possible.  As much or more than any other type of litigation, product liability defense requires a genuine team effort, coordinating the skills of attorneys, clients and outside experts.

Experience also teaches that successfully defending of a particular claim often eliminates or leads to attractive settlement opportunities for many similar claims.  Accordingly, careful attention is given to identifying those claims which could become “trendsetters” and maximum effort is made to concentrate defense efforts accordingly.  In recent years, our selective and vigorous defense of “test” cases has resulted in significant savings for Firm clients involved in manufacturing heavy equipment and chemicals.

Product liability defense work frequently involves more than litigation.  Counseling with client personnel involved in design, manufacturing and advertising can be critical in successfully defends lawsuits or avoiding litigation altogether.  Our attorneys have worked closely with clients to develop more effective warnings, better design alternatives and recall or field modification procedures.  Similarly, our attorneys have worked with clients and legislators to draft and lobby for the adoption of product liability legislation favorable to our clients interests.