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Kirkland & Ellis LLP

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Kevin Van Wart

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Kirkland & Ellis LLP

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Kevin Van Wart is a trial lawyer with extensive experience in complex litigation, including class action lawsuits, mass tort and product liability claims, and high-stakes commercial disputes. He recently obtained defense judgments in two nationally publicized cases involving alleged brain cancer clusters in Pennsylvania and Illinois. Clients include DuPont, Dow Chemical, Rohm and Haas, Union Carbide, Boeing, Raytheon, AbbVie and Steven Davis, the former chairman of Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP.


Kevin teaches trial advocacy at the University of Chicago Law School. The National Law Journal featured his successful trial work in naming Kirkland to its 2006 "Defense Hot List” in a case alleging that childhood exposure to radioactive emissions from a plutonium plant operated by DuPont and General Electric during the Cold War had caused plaintiff’s terminal metastatic thyroid cancer.


Boston University School of Law, J.D., 1982; Ohio Wesleyan University, B.A., 1976. Admitted to the Illinois Bar.

United States: Dispute resolution

Product liability, mass tort and class actions: toxic tort - defense

Within: Product liability, mass tort and class actions: toxic tort - defense

The toxic tort litigation department at Kirkland & Ellis LLP has vast experience handling toxic tort claims arising from chemicals exposure, water contamination and air pollution, among others incidents. In recent highlights, Chicago-based Kevin Van Wart and Bradley Weidenhammer successfully defended DuPont, General Electric and other government contractors in several lawsuits, in which plaintiffs alleged radioactive emissions from Washington State’s Hanford Nuclear Reservation caused cancers and other diseases. In addition, Eugene Assaf and Michael Williams in Washington continue to act as national counsel and lead trial counsel for BASF Catalysts in several asbestos-related product liability lawsuits. Other standout highlights include representing BP America in the ongoing Gulf of Mexico oil spill litigation, where it recently reached a settlement in a Louisiana case, and acting for Dow Chemical in a drinking water contamination action brought by the Suffolk County Water Authority. Jay Lefkowitz in New York and Kimberly Branscome in Los Angeles are other names to note.

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United States: Industry focus

Environment: litigation

Within: Environment: litigation

‚ÄėDifficult to better‚Äô, Kirkland & Ellis LLP¬†is renowned for representing BP in matters arising from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. It continues to act as counsel to the client, including in a host of putative nationwide class actions brought by domestic well owners against BP and other major oil refineries relating to the use of Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE) as a gasoline additive. Other of the firm‚Äôs key clients include Dow Chemical, DuPont, and General Motors, with its expertise extending to - among¬†other things - mass torts, challenges to federal and state rules, government enforcement actions, criminal and civil matters, Superfund and insurance coverage, and restructuring and bankruptcy matters. In a recurring highlight case, the team defended the City of Chicago in a putative class action alleging dangerous levels of lead exposure in the city‚Äôs water and sewer lines. In Chicago, the names to note are Kevin Van Wart, Andrew Langan, Andrew Running, Douglas Smith, and Richard Godfrey, while Jeanne Cohn-Connor¬†is the key contact in Washington DC.

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