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Product liability, mass tort and class action - defense: automotive/transport in United States

Bowman and Brooke LLP

Boutique product liability firm Bowman and Brooke LLP plays a preeminent role in the automotive space, representing a wide array of manufacturers in client relationships that often span decades. Drawing on a strong trial bench the firm defends clients in a full range of litigations from class actions and mass consolidated actions to personal injury cases involving severe injuries and fatalities. Its expertise in advanced driver-assistance systems puts it at the cutting edge of industry developments. Firm chair Paul Cereghini in Phoenix is one of the top go-to trial lawyers in this space. Bard Borkon in Minneapolis also co-heads the group together with Tom Branigan in Detroit. San-Jose-based Vincent Galvin continues to be a prominent lawyer in this field, and Joel Smith in Columbia is involved in the high-profile litigation surrounding Takata air bag non-deployment as overall lead counsel to Honda. Daniel Bauch joined the firm in October 2020 from American Honda Motor.

Practice head(s):

Paul Cereghini; Bard Borkon; Tom Branigan

Other key lawyers:

Joel Smith; Vincent Galvin

Key clients

Toyota Motor North America, Inc.

Ford Motor Company

Honda North America, Inc.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V.

Nissan North America, Inc.

Hyundai Motor America

BMW AG

Tesla, Inc.

Jaguar Land Rover Automotive

Yamaha Motor USA Corp

Subaru of America, Inc.

Kia Motors America, Inc.

Work highlights

  • Served as lead product liability counsel to Honda for Takata airbag inflator matters; Honda reached settlements with the Attorneys General of 48 separate jurisdictions and a separate agreement with the Attorney General of California to resolve consumer protection allegations related to Honda’s use and recall of Takata airbag inflators.
  • Defending FCA in their highest exposure product liability cases nationally. Arias v. FCA is one such example. In this three-week Texas trial, plaintiff asked the jury for a ‘record setting verdict,’ intended to deliver an award in excess of $100 million.
  • Serving as national automotive product liability counsel to Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc. as their lead counsel and largest provider of automotive product liability defense counsel in the United States.

Dykema Gossett PLLC

With a long history of representing the automotive industry, Dykema Gossett PLLC acts not only for a wide array of car manufacturers, but also for a long list of suppliers in high-stakes matters. The team’s expertise ranges from personal injury and wrongful death claims to class actions and multi-district litigations across the country. Jill Wheaton in Ann Arbor, who is involved in high-profile appellate work, commercial litigation and products liability defence, heads the practice. Fred Fresard  in Bloomfield Hills is a key lawyer in the area of automotive crashworthiness litigation, safety technology and safety regulation. Class action team leader Terri Reiskin in Washington DC continues to be a name of note in this practice area, as does Derek Whitefield in Los Angeles, who according to clients ‘always keeps the big picture in mind’.

Practice head(s):

Jill Wheaton

Other key lawyers:

James Feeney; Michael Cooney; Fred Fresard; Teri Reiskin; Derek Whitefield

Testimonials

‘The team is always available when I need them and their advice is sound and prompt.’

‘Derek Whitefield is one of he most conscientious lawyers I have ever worked with. He is thoughtful in his advice, listens carefully, and never runs up fees with needless disputes. He tries cooperation first, but then fights the battles as needed. He always keeps the big picture in mind.’

Key clients

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA)

American Honda Motor Co., Inc.,

KIA Motors America

U-Haul

Work highlights

  • Served as lead trial counsel in 17 day jury trial for defendant automobile manufacturer sued for damages involving a single car accident. Plaintiffs sought $87 million dollars in damages alleging wrongful death. Jury delivered defense verdict following 3 week trial in Los Angeles Superior Court.
  • Obtained summary judgment in airbag non-deployment case where plaintiff claimed to have sustained a permanent brain injury and injury to eyesight. Case asked whether the California consumer expectation test could be applied. The trial court found that only the risk/benefit test applied and found plaintiff had not overcome substantial evidence that automobile manufacturer had properly designed the threshold for the airbag system to deploy the airbags when needed and not deploy the airbags when not needed. The firm supported the motion with an extensive declaration describing the benefits and risks of the airbag system design.
  • Served as trial counsel and secured defense verdict Ventura County, California for defendant automobile manufacturer in claim that defect in shifter caused vehicle rollaway and fatal injuries. Plaintiffs claimed $52 million in compensatory damages, plus punitive damages.

King & Spalding LLP

The 'first rate' trial-ready team at King & Spalding LLP routinely defends automotive clients in complex and high-exposure class actions. The firm has argued cases in state and federal courts on significant issues for the automotive industry, recently achieving an appellate victory in the Georgia Supreme Court on behalf of Suzuki which has changed the legal landscape for product liability defendants going forward in the state. Chilton Varner in Atlanta continues to be a prominent name in this space. Established expert New York-based John Hooper is described as 'extremely effective in addressing complex problems, particularly litigation, and identifying risk and resolution opportunities'. He leads the practice group together with up-and-comer Susan Clare in Atlanta, who represents clients in high-exposure complex actions and is a thought leader on autonomous vehicles. As part of a group that joined the firm from Boies Schiller Flexner LLP in May 2020, new hire Albert Giang is helping to expand the practice’s profile in the mobility sector.

Practice head(s):

Susan Clare; John Hooper

Other key lawyers:

Stephen Devereaux; Chilton Varner

Testimonials

‘K&S team has a deep bench of litigation experiences as well as significant knowledge about the automotive industry. ’

‘Liv Kiser is a remarkable attorney that has demonstrated the ability to handle complex litigation and achieve favorable results in a cost effective manner. ’

‘The K&S team that I work with are all first rate. They are experts in their field, at the top of their game. They are very client oriented and responsive. Also offer practical advice and are problem solvers.’

‘Ted Hester is one of the finest lawyers I have come across in 30+ years of practice. He is one of our most trusted advisors. No task is too small or too large. Grant Nakayams is also one of our outside counsel in the environmental law space. Grant is extremely smart and knowledgeable in his area. He too always provides sage legal advice and practical solutions. John Hooper works with us in the class action and dispute resolution areas. John is extremely effective in addressing complex problems, particularly litigation, and identifying risk and resolution opportunities. He is very client-focused and offers pragmatic and practical solutions.’

Key clients

AUTOMOBILI LAMBORGHINI AMERICA

Daimler AG / Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC

General Motors LLC

Honda North America, Inc.

Subaru of America Inc.

Suzuki Motor of America, Inc.

Toyota Motor North America, Inc.

Work highlights

  • Achieved a victory in the Georgia Supreme Court on behalf of Suzuki Motor Corporation and Suzuki Motor of America, Inc in a groundbreaking decision impacting product manufacturers sued in Georgia.
  • Securing summary judgment on all claims asserted in a proposed class action alleging transmission defects in various Honda Odyssey vehicles in a matter that the plaintiff’s expert valued at $1.7 billion.
  • Successfully fending off one plaintiffs’ firm’s attempt to centralize to a Multidistrict Litigation in the Eastern District of Michigan all of the cases in nine different class actions regarding allegations that vehicles equipped with certain Denso fuel pumps are defective.

McGuireWoods LLP

McGuireWoods LLP acts for clients in wrongful death and personal injury claims, product liability litigation involving automotive parts and asbestos exposure disputes. The firm stands out with its long-term client relationships, having represented Ford Motor Company in wrongful death and severe injury claims nationwide for over three decades, as well as more recently in class actions and asbestos-related claims. In addition to defending leading automotive companies, the team is also active in the mobility sector and for trucking companies. Diane Flannery in Richmond chairs the products, environmental & mass tort litigation department; she has worked on a variety of class action and multidistrict litigation matters. Trial lawyer Samuel Tarry in Richmond is a name to note, currently acting in asbestos-related litigation for Ford.

Practice head(s):

Diane Flannery

Other key lawyers:

Terrence Bagley; Perry Miles; Candace Blydenburgh; Samuel Tarry

Testimonials

‘McGuire Woods was able to leverage their relationships to deliver results for us that no other firm in Virginia could. As a result of their intercession with the Attorney General’s office, a state agency with whom we were in a dispute, was forced to hire outside counsel at considerable expense because McGuire Woods convinced the AG office that it could not (and should not) defend the position the agency had taken.’

‘Richard Cullen – Richard cuts instantly to the heart of the matter and provides invaluable strategic counsel and innovative solutions. Outstanding judgement and relationships.’

‘Stephen D Busch – Steve is the consummate professional. His diligence, attention to detail and preparation consistently exceeded our lofty expectations. Steve’s professional demeanor and reputation served us very well in difficult and contentious settlement negotiations.’

‘Duncan Getchell – Duncan’s presence and encyclopedic knowledge of the law commands respect from both opposing counsel and jurists ’

Key clients

Ford Motor Company

Work highlights

  • Represents Ford Motor Company as National Class Action Counsel, National Products Liability Counsel, National Asbestos Appellate Counsel and Speciality Area Counsel for Asbestos Litigation in the Eastern United States.

Campbell Conroy & O’Neil

Campbell Conroy & O’Neil's client list includes prominent companies from the automotive and aviation industries. The firm has expertise in class actions, personal injury, negligence and product liability matters. Its president James Campbell in Boston focuses his practice on civil litigation and the defense of catastrophic product liability, toxic tort and negligence matters among others. Trial lawyer and name to note William Conroy in Philadelphia is currently specialized in the litigation of catastrophic injury cases.

Other key lawyers:

James Campbell; William Conroy

Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP

With a client list of prominent automotive manufacturers Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP draws on a strong team of consultants and trial lawyers, who stay informed on cutting-edge industry issues. The team defends clients in high-stakes class actions and multidistrict litigation but also advises them on relevant issues such as risk mitigation related to cybersecurity vulnerability concerns or marketing and advertising. Amir Nassihi in San Francisco, a class action expert with an excellent track record, leads the group together with Michael Mallow in Los Angeles, who has secured prominent victories for the automotive industry. Colm Moran joined the firm from Hogan Lovells US LLP in May 2020; he is an experienced trial lawyer with a focus on motor vehicle franchise law and class action defense. Frank Kelly is also a name to note in this space.

Practice head(s):

Amir M. Nassihi; Michael Mallow

Other key lawyers:

Grant Law; Colm Moran; Rob Adams; Frank Kelly

Key clients

Ford Motor Co.

Toyota

Nissan North America, Inc.

Volkswagen Group of America

Mercedes Benz

Daimler Trucks North America

Daimler AG

Mitsubishi

Mazda Motor of America, Inc. d/b/a Mazda North American Operations (“MNAO”)

Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell LLP

National civil litigation boutique Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell LLP represents clients in a variety of product liability matters. The team has particular expertise in defending the automotive sector as well as commercial truck manufacturers and interstate carriers. Counsel emeritus Malcolm Wheeler in Denver has represented automotive manufacturers in a wide variety of high-profile cases. Firm chair Michael O’Donnell is a widely recognised trial lawyer with an excellent reputation in this space.

Other key lawyers:

Malcolm Wheeler; Michael O’Donnell

Ballard Spahr LLP

Having most recently defended Subaru in several significant automotive class actions in New Jersey, and in other venues across the United States Ballard Spahr LLP is an active firm in this space. In addition to working as litigators the team advises clients on regulatory and risk management issues, including FTC warranty guidance, ANSI warnings compliance and recall administration. New Jersey-based Neal Walters leads the group, he has experience defending automotive and industrial companies in product liability and personal injury disputes. Roberto Rivera-Soto, a former New Jersey Supreme Court Justice, is a key figure in the practice, particularly when it comes to appellate matters. Associate Casey Watkins in New Jersey is also a name to note.

Practice head(s):

Neal Walters

Other key lawyers:

Roberto Rivera-Soto; Casey Watkins

Key clients

Subaru of America, Inc.

Valero, Inc.

Kia Motors, Inc.

Condon & Forsyth LLP

Specialist aviation law firm Condon & Forsyth LLP continues to be at the forefront for aviation accident disputes and investigations, currently serving as outside counsel to over forty air carriers and aviation manufacturers. The team has recently defended clients in disputes related to crashes, turbulence injuries and ticket refund claims arising from the Covid-19 pandemic. Leading aviation attorneys Christopher Christensen and Bartholomew Banino in New York are at the helm of the group. Co-head John Maggio is also based in New York, while at the same time leading the firm’s Miami office which serves as a gateway to its Latin American and Caribbean clients.  Recognized New York-based expert Anthony Battista is a name to note. In the Los Angeles office Andrew Johnson, who has significant experience in civil litigation, arbitrations and mediations, was promoted to partner.

Practice head(s):

Christopher Christensen; Bartholomew Banino; John Maggio

Other key lawyers:

Anthony Battista; Scott Cunningham; Stephen Stegich; Allison Surcouf

Key clients

Advent Aircraft Systems, Inc.

Aer Lingus

Aeroflot

Aerolineas Damojh, S.A. de C.V. (d/b/a Global Air)

Aerovías de México, S.A. de C.V. (d/b/a Aeromexico)

Air Charter Service

Air Lease Corporation

AIG

AirAsia

Air India

Air New Zealand

Airparts Company, Inc.

AJ Gallagher

Alaska Airlines

Allianz

All Nippon Airways

American Airlines

Aon Risk Services

Aruba Airlines

Asiana Airlines

Avianca

Bahamasair

BAE Systems Plc

Bangkok Airways

British Airways Plc

Caribbean Airlines

Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd.

Cebu Pacific Air, Inc.

China Airlines

Compañía Panameña de Aviación, S.A. (d/b/a Copa Airlines)

Croatia Airlines Ltd.

Dassault Falcon Jet

Delta Air Lines

Duncan Aviation

Eaton Corporation plc

Embraer Executive Aircraft and Embraer Maintenance Services

Embraer S.A.

Etihad Airways

F&E Aircraft Maintenance

Fly 7 Executive Aviation SA

Frontier Airlines

GE Aviation

Global Aerospace

Global SuperTanker Services, LLC

Iberia

Internation

DLA Piper LLP (US)

DLA Piper LLP (US)’s strengths in this space lie in defending automotive manufacturers against nationwide class actions, alleging defects or surrounding emissions-related claims. The team also represents clients in multidistrict litigation. It can draw on the firm’s global presence, experience in the automotive sector and different forms of legal tech such as litigation analytics that use historical data about judges, lawyers and parties to inform strategies. Christopher Campbell in Atlanta co-heads the team with Loren Brown in New York and James Brogan in Philadelphia. Joel Dewey in Baltimore, an MIT trained engineer and trial lawyer, is a name to note.

Practice head(s):

Christopher Campbell; Loren Brown; James Brogan

Other key lawyers:

Joel Dewey; Jeff Yeatman; Matt Goldberg

Key clients

Porsche Cars North America (PCNA)

Hyundai Mobis Co., Ltd.

Work highlights

  • The US District Court for the Southern District of Florida twice granted client Porsche Cars North America, Inc.’s (PCNA) motions to dismiss a nationwide putative class action involving certain allegedly defective Cayenne and Panamera vehicles.
  • Representing Hyundai Mobis Co., Ltd. and its affiliate Mobis Parts America, Inc., in multiple nationwide class actions coordinated into an MDL proceeding in the US District Court for the Central District of California.
  • Represented PCNA against a putative class action alleging that certain Porsche-brand vehicles were sold with wireless key fobs that were defective because they were susceptible to being ‘hacked’ by third-party criminal actors.

Kirkland & Ellis LLP

Kirkland & Ellis LLP defends vehicle, automobile, parts and component manufacturers in a wide variety of putative class actions, as well as in multidistrict litigation. The team is also involved in high-profile environmental issues, representing General Motors LLC in a dispute surrounding allegations of the use of Volkswagen-type ‘defeat device’ software. Mike Brock in Washington D.C. who has tried product liability cases for automobile manufacturers as well as pharmaceutical and life sciences companies, is a key figure in the team. Chicago-based Leslie Smith focuses on the areas of pharmaceutical, class action and consumer fraud litigation and is also a name to note.

Other key lawyers:

Leslie Smith; Mike Brock; Michael Williams; Andrew McGaan

Key clients

General Motors

Polaris Industries

ZF-TRW Automotive Holdings Corporation

Norton Rose Fulbright

Norton Rose Fulbright advises and represents clients in the automotive and trucking space and has experience coordinating litigation across numerous jurisdictions and states. The 'exceptionally talented' team can draw on deep institutional experience as well as trial readiness and strong working relationships with experts in standard of care, accident reconstruction, vehicle dynamics and biomechanics. Steve Jansma, based in San Antonio and Houston, is a name to note in this space. Brett Young in Houston leads the practice.

Practice head(s):

Brett Young

Other key lawyers:

Steve Jansma

Testimonials

‘These lawyers become true partners in getting to know the client’s business. They add great value! ’

‘Troy Vancil, Steve Jansma, Steve Dillard. Can’t say enough about each of them. An exceptionally talented group of people.

Key clients

Walmart Inc.

Toyota

Work highlights

  • Has been advising Walmart and Sam’s Club on their automotive and tire litigation docket for many years, expanding its remit from 10 to over 20 states. As Regional Trial Counsel defends automotive-related lawsuits and develops and carries out strategic plans to enhance consistency in discovery response and protection of company witnesses, trade secrets and other confidential information in a cost-effective manner. Currently, the firm is advising Walmart on numerous ongoing cases, including Blake v. Walmart in Michigan, Sage v. Walmart in Minnesota, and Dyer v. Walmart in Texas.
  • Recently persuaded a federal judge to deny class certification to plaintiffs who alleged that Toyota engaged in false advertising when it touted that several 2016 Toyota RAV4 models came equipped with fully automatic lights. US District Judge Beth Labson Freeman of the Northern District of California in San Jose denied class certification February 3, finding that the entire class of purchasers was not exposed to the alleged misrepresentation.

Hogan Lovells US LLP

The team at Hogan Lovells US LLP has represented OEMs and distributors in various product liability litigation cases, in appeals, large recalls and consolidated actions. The firm also has experience in managing multijurisdictional disputes. Michael Kidney in Washington DC has over 25 years of litigation experience and is a key lawyer in the team. Baltimore-based Lauren Colton, head of the firm’s products law group, focuses her civil practice on product liability litigation which includes individual, mass tort and class actions in federal and state courts across the country.

Other key lawyers:

Michael Kidney; Lauren Colton

Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP

The team at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP, praised for its 'true partnership mentality', defends automobile, vehicle and original equipment manufacturers in product liability litigation, taking on roles in disputes surrounding personal injuries and fatalities as well as putative class actions alleging defects in vehicles. Mark Jones and Steven McKelvey in Columbia lead the products liability group. Los Angeles-based Phil Cosgrove, a trial attorney who handles complex civil litigation and focuses on product liability, transportation and toxic tort cases, is a key figure in the team. Jahmy Graham joined the firm from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP in 2020.

Practice head(s):

Mark Jones; Steven McKelvey

Other key lawyers:

Anita Wallace Thomas; Phil Cosgrove; Ryan Cosgrove

Testimonials

‘The products liability team at Nelson Mullins takes the time to really learn about our products at a granular level. They are not a firm that learns just what they need to for a case, but rather works to understand the entire product, the reasoning behind design decisions, and how the product fits into the company’s current and future plans. This is a true partnership mentality.’

‘John Kuppens, Richard North, Paul Collins, and Sam Outten have been incredible to work with. They are always available for sound guidance and are very strategic in their approach to our cases. Such strategic thinking helps keep our legal spend down while at the same time producing fantastic results.’

Key clients

Fiat Chrysler

Textron

General Electric

Global Aerospace

O'Melveny & Myers LLP

O'Melveny & Myers LLP is experienced in defending clients against product liability and consumer claims in class actions, mass torts and government enforcement actions. In the automotive space it has represented clients in several class actions involving allegations of defects. In a recent high-profile matter the firm has been retained as settlement counsel by Ford Motor Company in a nationwide class action involving Takata airbags. Steve Brody in Washington DC, Matt Powers in San Francisco and Sabrina Strong in Los Angeles lead the product liability & mass tort group. San Francisco-based Randall Edwards is a key lawyer in the automotive space and has represented Ford Motor Company in significant cases for over 20 years.

Practice head(s):

Steve Brody; Matt Powers; Sabrina Strong

Other key lawyers:

Randall Edwards; Carlos Lazatin

Testimonials

 

Key clients

Kia Motors

Ford Motor Company

Reed Smith LLP

Reed Smith LLP regularly advises on product liability issues involving different transportation sectors, especially clients in the aviation and automotive industries. The team is active in matters related to accidents or breach of warranty claims. Robert Roth in Chicago leads the product liability. Princeton-based Patrick Bradley is a lawyer of renown in aviation litigation, defending clients in various disputes including product liability claims of wrongful death, personal injury and property loss or damage.

Practice head(s):

Robert Roth

Other key lawyers:

Patrick Bradley; Oliver Beiersdorf

Sidley Austin LLP

Sidley Austin LLP has a global presence and has defended product liability claims across the country. The firm is experienced in defending against mass tort cases, including complex multidistrict litigation, and regularly conducts pre-litigation counselling and risk assessments. The group has a particularly strong track record in matters in connection with the aviation industry.