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United States > Dispute resolution > Product liability, mass tort and class action: consumer products (including tobacco) > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

Index of tables

  1. Product liability, mass tort and class action: consumer products (including tobacco)
  2. Leading lawyers

Leading lawyers

  1. 1

Jointly led by Anand Agneshwar in New York and Eric Rubel in Washington DC, Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP’s product liability litigation department specializes in representing clients before the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), as well as handling litigation concerning California Proposition 65. Rubel has been defending a number of manufacturers, importers and retailers in numerous civil penalty investigations conducted by the CPSC alleging regulatory violations. San Francisco-based Trent Norris has been acting for PepsiCo in nine federal consumer class actions alleging violation of consumer protection laws. The firm’s client base also includes ConAgra Foods, Costco and Danone. Ellen Reisman left to found Reisman Karron Greene LLP.

Goodwin Procter LLP’s ‘excellent’ practice defends clients across a broad range of sectors, such as food and beverages, and technology. Forrest Hainline often represents food and supplement industry clients in litigation involving product safety and labelling claims. In Washington DC, Mark Raffman is serving as national coordinating counsel for spray foam manufacturer Icynene in product liability suits across a number of states arising from claims that exposure to the defendant’s products resulted in property damage and personal injury. The practice is headed by New York-based Joanne Gray. Patrick Thompson joined Perkins Coie LLP in 2016.

Jones Day’s practice is considered to be ‘the standard by which product litigation firms should be measured’. Stephanie Parker in Atlanta heads the department. Gregory Katsas in Washington DC worked alongside Parker to assist RJ Reynolds with achieving a $43m settlement agreement to resolve all Engle progeny cases in the Florida federal courts after three years of litigation (cases pending in the Florida state courts are still ongoing). Frederick McKnight, Peter Davids, Kerry Fowler (all three in Los Angeles) and Pittsburgh-based Charles Moellenberg are representing over 20 wineries in lawsuits claiming risk of personal injury caused by trace amounts of arsenic in their wine. Elli Leibenstein joined Greenberg Traurig LLP in early 2016.

Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP has extensive experience of representing clients before federal and state agencies, including the CPSC, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). San Francisco-based Frank Kelly represents tobacco and various product manufacturers in a wide range of litigation, such as class actions, aggregated individual mass tort cases and catastrophic construction defect cases. Holly Smith in Kansas City has been serving as lead counsel in an MDL concerning consumer fraud and warranty allegations against a PVC decking manufacturer. Miami-based Kenneth Reilly is also recommended.

Sidley Austin LLP’s ‘superb’ practice provides ‘outstanding client orientation’ and is ‘very thorough in analysis and preparation’. Sara Gourley and Maja Eaton share leadership of the practice with Los Angeles-based Debra Pole. Alycia Degen in Los Angeles is acting alongside Elizabeth Chiarello and Kara McCall, who ‘knows what it takes to win’, to represent cosmetic products manufacturer Beiersdorf against a putative class action alleging that the labelling of its Nivea Skin Firming Lotion is false and misleading. McCall and Chiarello are working with ‘excellent class action lawyer’ Robert Scarborough to defend Owens Corning against four putative statewide class actions concerning defects in virtually every aspect of Owens Corning’s Oakridge roofing shingle business. All named lawyers are based in Chicago, except where noted otherwise. Michael Davis retired.

Latham & Watkins LLP is highly experienced in defending clients in high-stakes complex litigation, with a particular expertise in handling product recalls. The practice co-heads are Thomas Heiden in Chicago, Michael Romey in Los Angeles and Gwyn Williams in Boston. Williams and Kenneth Parsigian served as co-lead counsel for Philip Morris in a consumer class action trial before the Suffolk County Superior Court in Massachusetts arising from claims of violations of the state’s consumer protection statute; they successfully secured denial of a class certification and the trial ended in 2015. Los Angeles-based Russell Sauer and of counsel Amy Quartarolo successfully represented the United States Soccer Federation in a high-profile concussion class action; the case was dismissed with prejudice in 2015.

At McGuireWoods LLP, Diane Flannery is leading a team that is currently serving as co-lead counsel to Lumber Liquidators in an MDL concerning allegations that the client knowingly sold Chinese laminate flooring containing unsafe levels of formaldehyde; proceedings are currently in the discovery phase. In other work, Stephen Busch successfully served as lead trial and coordinating counsel to leading tobacco company Universal Corporation in Hupan, et al v Alliance One International, as well as five related lawsuits pertaining to birth defects allegedly caused by exposure to hazardous herbicides and pesticides in Argentina; all six lawsuits were dismissed. Samuel Tarry is now head of the Richmond-based practice, having succeeded Terrence Bagley, who continues to play a full role in the practice.

Morrison & Foerster LLP’s product liability group is led by San Diego-based Erin Bosman, whose experience includes handling high-stakes consumer product recalls and investigations conducted by the CPSC. Bosman and James Huston are currently representing Fitbit in a putative class action claiming that Fitbit’s sleep-tracking function is not as accurate as sleep monitoring medical devices. San Francisco-based William Tarantino and Michael Steel are representing Lumber Liquidators in a major MDL comprised of over 130 class actions, as well as a number of investigations, regarding claims that Lumber Liquidators’ laminate flooring emitted unsafe levels of formaldehyde, which is in violation of the California Air Resources Board’s requirements. Other clients include Costco, California Natural Products and Sears Holdings.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP often represents clients in trial and appellate courts at the federal and state levels across the US, and has strong experience in MDL proceedings. In Washington DC, mass torts, insurance and consumer litigation group head John Beisner often defends clients before administrative agencies, such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and CPSC. Los Angeles-based Lisa Gilford’s experience includes serving as trial counsel in product liability cases regarding claims of design and manufacturing defects across a wide range of consumer products, such as household appliances, food and nutritional supplements. Jessica Miller is also recommended in the firm’s Washington DC office. New York-based Kenneth Plevan is now of counsel, while Edward Crane retired.

Headed by Stephen D’Amore and George Lombardi, the Chicago-based practice at Winston & Strawn LLP is experienced in defending major US corporations in high-stakes class actions and product liability litigation. D’Amore, Neil Murphy, Dan Webb and Los Angeles-based Erin Ranahan represented the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) and the US manufacturers of high-fructose corn syrup as the defendants and counter-plaintiffs in a false advertising lawsuit brought by Western Sugar and a number of other sugar manufacturers and refiners alleging CRA’s description of high-fructose corn syrup in an educational campaign is false and misleading; the case was settled in 2015. Steve Grimes is now the director of compliance at Tenneco.

At DLA Piper LLP (US), San Diego-based Brian Foster continues to lead the defense of Lorillard as co-counsel in a product liability matter before the Los Angeles Superior Court alleging failure to warn, strict liability due to a design defect and negligent design; Lorillard has appealed the judgment. In the same office, practice co-head Christopher Young successfully obtained a number dismissals for Chattem regarding various consumer class actions in California and Florida alleging misrepresentation in the labelling of Chattem’s ACT line of mouthwash products. Fellow co-head Raymond Williams in Philadelphia is also recommended.

Dechert LLP’s product liability and mass torts litigation department has substantial trial and appellate experience, extending to class actions, mass torts and regulatory matters. Chicago-based Erik Snapp is currently defending Pfizer as trial counsel in a statewide consumer fraud class action in the Southern District of California alleging false advertising of prescription drugs Premarin, Prempro and Premphase. Other clients include Johnson & Johnson, Philip Morris and Union Carbide. Austin-based Amy Rudd and Chicago-based Nathan Hoffman are also recommended. Donald Le Gower is now in-house counsel at Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Greenberg Traurig, LLP’s practice is jointly headed by Francis Citera in Chicago and Robert Herrington, who divides his time between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Herrington is currently defending a variety of major corporations in class actions and product liability lawsuits. Global litigation co-chair Alan Mansfield continued to defend Lorillard in a Kansas consumer class action alleging a wholesale price-fixing scheme; after obtaining a defense victory in 2014, the Kansas Supreme Court denied review of summary judgment in 2015. In Miami, David Coulson and Adam Foslid have been defending water heater manufacturer Rheem in a number of putative nationwide class actions before federal courts in Arizona, New Jersey and Georgia arising from claims of breach of express warranty, breach of implied warranty and violations of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA). Elli Leibenstein joined from Jones Day in early 2016.

The Washington DC-based team of Kirkland & Ellis LLP, led by Eugene Assaf and Michael Williams, is currently serving as national and lead trial counsel to BASF Catalysts in a number of high-profile product liability cases arising from the sale of talc by the defunct talc-mining operations of Engelhard. New York-based Jay Lefkowitz successfully obtained dismissal of all claims brought against Teva Pharmaceutical Industries alleging failure to warn regarding the drug Treanda, a case heard before the US District Court for the Southern District of New York. Andrew McGaan is also recommended. Other clients include Honeywell and Union Carbide.

Denver-based Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell LLP represents manufacturers and distributors across a broad range of industries at trial and appellate level. Led by Peter Herzog, the firm is now serving as regional trial counsel for Michelin in product liability and tire pattern litigation across 12 states. Malcolm Wheeler is also recommended. Michael Williams has deep experience across product liability and toxic tort cases consumer products manufacturers such as Whirlpool. The firm continues to serve as national trial counsel for clients such as General Electric and Pfizer.

Baker McKenzie LLP’s product liability and recall practice is headed by Chicago-based Michael Wagner. The group has experience across a wide range of industries, including food and beverages, electronics and industrial products. Mark Karasik (Chicago) was retained to defend Hubbell Power Systems against a product liability suit alleging manufacturing defects in products sold to the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA). In San Francisco, Tod Gamlen obtained dismissal of a product liability suit for Japanese cosmetic producer Pola following a mail order purchase by the plaintiff, a California resident. Washington DC-based Neil O’Flaherty is also recommended.

Headed by firm chairman Paul Cereghini in Phoenix, Bowman and Brooke LLP’s department is experienced in litigation across a wide range of sectors, from fitness products to household appliance manufacturers and fabrics. Robert Wise in Richmond has been leading the firm’s handling of various class actions against Makita alleging unlawful trade practices, false advertising, breach of express and implied warranty, and fraudulent misrepresentation pertaining to alleged defects in Makita’s 18-volt lithium-ion batteries. Mike Madokoro successfully represented Jo-Ann Stores in dismissing a suit alleging false imprisonment following shoplifting claims. Marion Mauch and Minneapolis-based Carli Pearson have been promoted to partner. Julian Senior joined from the defunct Senior Law PC in 2015. All named lawyers are based in Los Angeles, except where noted otherwise.

Chadbourne & Parke LLP’s team often represents major clients from the food and beverages, cosmetics and electronics sectors in class actions. In New York, Donald Strauber and practice head Mary Yelenick successfully defended Beam Suntory against nine nationwide class actions before federal courts across the US brought by plaintiffs alleging false advertising in the client’s cocktail product. Yelenick has been representing Clarins in a putative nationwide class action before the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Other key names include Robin Ball in Los Angeles and Kerrie Campbell in Washington DC.

Hogan Lovells US LLP’s practice is led by Washington DC-based Craig Hoover, whose expertise includes serving as lead counsel to major clients in the food and beverages industry - among others - in MDL proceedings and product liability litigation before federal and state courts. Trial veteran Phoebe Wilkinson in New York and Robert Hawk in Silicon Valley are also recommended.

Headed by Richard Schneider, the ‘tremendous’ tort and environmental group at King & Spalding LLP is ‘responsive and knowledgeable’ in all areas of product liability litigation. The firm continues to represent RJ Reynolds in a number of Engle progeny cases in Florida, with Atlanta-based Randall Bassett achieving two defense verdicts in 2015. Charlotte-based Jeffrey Furr is ‘a leader in strategic thinking’. Ray Persons is also recommended. The team was significantly bolstered by the arrivals of San Francisco-based Alexander Calfo from Barnes & Thornburg, as well as Washington DC-based Granta Nakayama and Joseph Eisert from Kirkland & Ellis LLP. Several new partners were promoted. Frank Brannen and C Brannon Robertson joined Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP and Fernelius Alvarez Simon PLLC, respectively.

O’Melveny & Myers LLP’s product liability group, which is jointly headed by Richard Goetz in Los Angeles and Steve Brody in Washington DC, has a strong track record of serving as lead or co-lead national counsel in MDL proceedings concerning allegedly defective products, as well as in defending clients in regulatory investigations and litigation brought by federal agencies. Goetz and Amy Laurendeau, who is based in Newport Beach, defended Johnson & Johnson and Neutrogena against two putative class actions alleging false advertising and misleading information regarding Neutrogena’s sunscreen; the team successfully argued that the claims were pre-empted by the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and FDA regulations. Randall Edwards and Carla Christofferson, who are based in San Francisco and Los Angeles respectively, are also recommended.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP’s New York-based product liability and mass tort practice includes trial veteran Lynn Neuner, whose expertise includes defending clients in false advertising litigation, and Joe McLaughlin, who often represents clients in class actions and other aggregated proceedings in trial and appellate courts across the US, including the US Supreme Court. David Ichel retired.

The ‘outstanding’ product liability and mass tort group at Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP is led by the ‘well-prepared, tenacious and strategicArvin Maskin in New York. Maskin is currently representing Nortek as lead counsel in a number of putative state and nationwide class actions alleging manufacturing defects in the client’s heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems. Princeton-based Diane Sullivan is serving as lead trial counsel for Philip Morris in a class action before the District of Massachusetts involving payment for medical monitoring on behalf of all Massachusetts smokers of Philip Morris cigarettes. Other clients include Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson and Sanofi.

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