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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


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  1. Product liability, mass tort and class action: consumer products (including tobacco)
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San Francisco-based Trenton Norris heads the consumer products and services practice at Arnold & Porter, whereas Anand Agneshwar and Pamela Yates jointly lead the product liability litigation team in New York and Los Angeles, respectively. A key feature of the practice is the defense of manufacturers, importers and retailers against civil penalty investigations brought by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The department is experienced in a multitude of sectors, including recreational products, foods and beverages, tobacco and clothing. Recent work includes advising multiple food manufacturers and distributors, such as Hain Celestial, Post Foods and Kellogg’s, in litigation related to the lack of warning of the presence of the chemical acrylamide. Philip Morris, Dunkin’ Donuts and PepsiCo are also clients of the firm. Eric Rubel in Washington DC is another key figure.

Goodwin handles class actions, product liability lawsuits, product labeling and recall matters and is particularly active in the food and beverages industry. The team is headed by Joanne Gray, who continues to represent seafood company Bumble Bee Foods in a series of lawsuits across the country, and recently defeated a putative class action alleging deceptive labeling. Together with Glenn Kerner, Gray also acts as national counsel to longstanding client Herbalife in all product liability cases. Litigator Forrest Hainline in San Francisco and Nilda Isidro are other standout figures. All named partners are based in New York, unless otherwise stated.

Jones Day handles product liability lawsuits and mass torts in a multitude of areas, such as the tobacco, food and beverages industries. Atlanta-based Stephanie Parker heads the team and continues to represent R.J. Reynolds Tobacco in Engle progeny cases pending in the Florida state court and in federal court. In New York, Theodore Grossman continues to defend Daikin Industries and its subsidiary Goodman in purported class actions alleging premature failure of evaporator coils because of corrosion. In other ongoing work, Chicago-based Adam Wiers acts as lead defense counsel to Whirlpool in a nationwide putative class action, regarding defectively designed dryers. The firm’s client roster also includes Procter & Gamble and Sherwin-Williams. In Detroit, Stephen Cowen joined the firm in August 2017 from Boeing and the Washington DC office was bolstered with the July 2017 arrival of Matthew Papez from Kirkland & Ellis LLP and the January 2017 promotion of Christopher Thatch to partner.

The product liability, mass torts and consumer class action practice at Latham & Watkins LLP is co-headed by Chicago-based Thomas Heiden and Gwyn Williams in Boston. The team is particularly active in the tobacco and sports sectors, as evidenced by its continued representation of longstanding clients Philip Morris, Rothmans, Benson & Hedges and National Collegiate Athletic Association in several class actions. Together with Chicago-based environmental litigation practice head Mary Rose Alexander, Heiden represents Chevron in a series of class actions in the high-profile Hot Fuels litigation and obtained dismissal of the three lead California cases, in which plaintiffs alleged that, due to gasoline expanding in warm weather conditions, they received less BTUs and MPG for the same price. Kenneth Parsigian in Boston is recommended for his extensive expertise in class actions and mass torts in the tobacco sector and Chicago-based Mark Mester is another key figure. Andrew Clubok joined the Washington DC office in December 2017 from Kirkland & Ellis LLP.

Co-headed by Francis Citera in Chicago and Robert Herrington in Los Angeles, the department at Greenberg Traurig LLP has a strong track record representing manufacturers in high-profile product liability lawsuits and class actions. Recent work includes representing longstanding client Twin Hill in a putative class action brought by American Airlines flight attendants who alleged that uniforms caused various health problems. In Los Angeles, Rick Shackelford successfully defended Ocean Spray Cranberries against a class action alleging misleading labeling. New York-based Richard Edlin and David Sellinger in New Jersey lead the defense of Samsung Electronics in a nationwide class action, in which plaintiffs claim that the glass covering the rear camera lens in S7 smartphones shatters without external force being applied. The firm’s client base also includes Reynolds Tobacco and Fifth Generation.

McGuireWoods LLP’s products, environmental and mass tort litigation practice is headquartered in Richmond and handles matters in the food, equipment, tobacco and recreational products industries. Practice head Diane Flannery continues to act as lead counsel in the defense of Lumber Liquidators in two MDLs concerning the presence of chemicals in laminate flooring sold by the client, one of which has been settled. In other work, Terrence Bagley and Atlanta-based Angela Spivey act as national labeling counsel to food company Conagra and successfully defended the client in several putative class actions and class certification cases. Perry Miles and Samuel Tarry are also recommended. All partners are based in Richmond, unless otherwise indicated.

Headed by the ‘excellent and knowledgeable’ Erin Bosman in San Diego, Morrison & Foerster LLP’s practice handles product liability and class actions in a multitude of industries and is particularly adept in the technology products sector. Bosman continues to represent Fitbit in a putative class action regarding the accuracy of its sleep tracking function. In other work, San Diego-based Mark Zebrowski advised Gree Electric Appliances on a consumer product recall related to over two million dehumidifiers sold in the US. In San Francisco, senior counsel William Stern and the recently promoted Claudia Vetesi represent Unilever in a nationwide consumer class action, in which plaintiffs allege that ingredients of a facial scrub cause skin irritations. The highly recommended Julie Park in San Diego was made partner in January 2017.

Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP’s department is particularly active in food and beverages litigation, where the key contacts are Mark Anstoetter, Katie Calderon and James Muehlberger, and matters concerning the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). In one recent highlight, Chicago-based Matthew Sitzer successfully defended Ernida in a TCPA class action. The products team is co-led by Holly Smith and Ann Songer. The firm strengthened its practice with the January 2018 hire of three litigators from Sedgwick LLP, namely Michael Healy, Wyne Wolff and Emily Weissenberger. San Francisco-based Frank Kelly and Kenneth Reilly in Miami are other key figures. All named partners are based in Kansas City, unless otherwise stated.

Winston & Strawn LLP’s Chicago-based practice regularly represents manufacturers in the food, beverages, cosmetics and electronics industries in class actions and product liability suits. The class actions team is co-led by Amanda Groves in Charlotte and Los Angeles-based Stephen Smerek. Scott Glaubermann heads the products team and George Lombardi is another key figure. Stephen D’Amore and Washington DC-based Andrew Nichols continue to represent Archer Daniels Midland in a class action alleging equine products were contaminated with a chemical additive that is poisonous to horses. In other work, Kimball Anderson acted for Dell in a putative class action alleging false advertising of the battery life of Inspiron laptops. In early 2017, trial expert Thomas Melsheimer joined the firm from Fish & Richardson P.C., in course of the establishment of a new office in Dallas.

Bowman and Brooke LLP’s product liability and mass tort practice is particularly active in the construction, sports and electronics industries. In a recent highlight, Minneapolis-based Michelle Gilboe led the national defense litigation for Cybex in various personal injury and product liability claims involving sports equipment. Other work includes representing Makita in a putative nationwide class action in relation to allegedly defectively designed lithium ion batteries. In Phoenix, firm head Paul Cereghini continues to act as national counsel to helmet manufacturer Riddell in the high-profile NFL concussion litigation. Heidi Yoshioka, formerly at Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard and Smith LLP, joined the Los Angeles office in February 2017.

Kirkland & Ellis LLP’s product liability and mass tort practice handles MDLs and class actions for manufacturers and distributors. In recent work, Chicago-based Richard Godfrey obtained class settlement for L3Technologies in a class action suit involving allegedly defective military and consumer rifle accessories. In Washington DC, Eugene Assaf and Edwin U continue to represent Henkel in an MDL, involving unfair and deceptive trade practices claims in relation to the effectiveness of the Dial Complete line of antibacterial soaps. Chicago-based Andrew McGaan is another key figure in the department. In July 2017, Matthew Papez departed to Jones Day.

Mayer Brown’s 17-strong product liability and mass torts practice is experienced in the tobacco, electronics, food and beverages sectors and stands out for being ‘extremely knowledgeable about the substance of food labeling issues’. Led by practice co-head and ‘committed subject matter expertDale Giali in Los Angeles, the team defended Kind in 12 consumer class actions related to misleading labeling claims on snack bar products. In other work, ‘excellent’ New York-based co-head Lauren Goldman continues to act as national counsel for Philip Morris in consumer fraud and health-related lawsuits and, separately, represents the client in several Engle Progeny cases. Nestle, Whirlpool and Chobani are also part of the firm’s client roster. Carmine Zarlenga co-heads the practice in Washington DC.

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The mass torts and consumer litigation practice at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP has a strong track record representing manufacturers in a variety of industries, including sports, construction and electronics. Washington DC-based John Beisner and Jessica Miller continue to act as lead defense counsel to the National Hockey League in an MDL involving personal injury claims brought by former NHL players. In other work, Miller represents Tamko Building Products in multiple class actions alleging misrepresentation of quality and characteristics of roofing shingles. The firm’s client base also includes member clubs of the NFL and Electrolux. Palo Alto-based Allen Ruby and Jack DiCanio are other recommended figures.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP’s product liability and mass torts practice is headed by Arvin Maskin in New York and has a wealth of experience in a number of industries, including tobacco, cosmetics, dietary supplements and technology. Led by Diane Sullivan, the team obtained a favorable settlement for Procter & Gamble in a consumer fraud class action which alleged that the marketing of probiotic dietary supplement Align was misleading. In other work, Maskin continues to represent Japanese fiber manufacturer Toyobo in a series of investigations and litigation related to the performance of zylon fiber in bullet-resistant vests. Philip Morris, Walgreens and Nortek are also clients of the firm. David Singh is another name to note.

Michael O’Donnell heads the mass torts and product liability team at Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell LLP, which is headquartered in Denver and regularly represents high-profile clients in class actions. In one recent highlight the team, led by Michael Williams, defeated class certification efforts brought against longstanding client Whirlpool in Illinois, which involved two million allegedly defectively designed ovens. In other work, O’Donnell acts as national settlement counsel to Michelin in all its product liability litigation. The team recently added Canadian manufacturer Skyjack to its client roster, and took over its entire portfolio of US product liability litigation. Other clients include Intermountain Power and Foster Wheeler. Michele Choe and Kenneth Stalzer were made partner in January 2017.

The consumer and industrial product liability practice at DLA Piper LLP (US) handles contentious and non-contentious work, such as risk mitigation, regulatory law matters, product recalls and product liability litigation. The group is headed by Raymond Williams in Philadelphia and Christopher Young in San Diego, who is particularly experienced in the life sciences, food and beverage industries.

Los Angeles-based William Oxley heads Dechert LLP’s product liability, class actions and mass tort department. Recent highlights include representing Japanese manufacturer Takata and its affiliates in relation to the high-profile airbag inflator recall, including over 100 class actions and personal injury matters. In other work, the team continues to assist longstanding client Pfizer with consumer products matters. Robert Heim in Philadelphia is also active in the sector.

Herbert Smith Freehills’ New York-based product liability team stands out for its strength in the tobacco sector and involvement in cross-border class actions. ‘Top tier strategists’ Benjamin Rubinstein and Gregory Loss ‘couple deep knowledge of science and law with fresh approaches’ and continue to lead advice to British American Tobacco on smoking and health lawsuits in the United States and abroad. Related highlights include advising BAT on product liability class actions in Quebec and civil claims in Nigeria involving the recovery of medical costs for the treatment of smoking-related diseases. Twinings and Souza Cruz are also clients of the firm. The practice is headed by Thomas Riley; David Wallace departed in 2016 to found Wallace Law PLLC.

Hogan Lovells US LLP’ product liability practice is headed by Lauren Colton in Baltimore and handles MDLs and class actions in a multitude of sectors, including food and beverage, technology, household electronics and appliances. In New York, Phoebe Wilkinson continues to act for longstanding client LG Electronics in a nationwide putative class action regarding the sale, marketing and quality of washing machines. For Hormel Food, Washington DC-based Desmond Hogan obtained complete dismissal of a class action complaint alleging false advertising. ConAgra, StarKist and Best Buy are also part of the firm’s client base. Maria Durant joined the Boston office in September 2017 in course of the firm’s combination with Collora LLP.

Kelley Drye & Warren LLP’s consumer class action defense practice has a strong track record representing companies from the food and beverage, gaming, oil and gas sectors in product liability litigation and class actions. In recent work, Parsippany-based Lauri Mazzuchetti, Washington DC-based Paul Rosenthal and Givonna Long in Chicago led advice to national wholesale distributor Essendant in a punitive class action alleging violations of the TCPA. In another highlight, the team successfully defended Riviana Foods in a class action that asserted violations of consumer fraud law. The firm’s client roster also includes Take-Two Interactive and BP. New York-based Michael Lynch heads the national litigation practice.

King & Spalding LLP’s consumer products group is led by Richard Schneider in Atlanta, while the wider practice is headed by Carol Wood in Houston. The team continues to represent RJ Reynolds Tobacco in Engle Progeny tobacco cases in Florida and recently obtained several defense verdicts and appellate victories in related lawsuits. In other work, Andrew Bayman and Stephen Devereaux defended Floor & Decor in several personal injury claims and a putative nationwide class action, in which plaintiffs allege that laminate flooring sold by the defendant emits excessive levels of formaldehyde. Charlotte-based Cory Hohnbaum and Jeffrey Furr are other key figures in the department.

Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP’s consumer products group is co-headed by Jeffrey Margulies in Los Angeles and Matthew Kirtland in Washington DC. The team handles class actions for manufacturers in a wide array of industries, including food and beverage, retail and electronics. Houston-based Carter Crow heads the class actions team.

Washington DC-based Steve Brody heads the practice at O'Melveny & Myers LLP, which handles product liability lawsuits and class actions. In recent work, San Francisco-based Matt Powers, Richard Goetz in Los Angeles and Allen Burton in New York obtained dismissal of a nationwide class action for longstanding client Johnson & Johnson, involving claims alleging failure to disclose the presence of talc in Baby Powder. In other work, the team successfully defended Colgate-Palmolive subsidiary Hill’s Pet Nutrition in a consumer class action involving false advertising claims. The firm’s client roster also includes Uber, GT’s Living Foods and Samsung.

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