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

Bowman and Brooke LLP

A pioneer in automotive product liability, Bowman and Brooke LLP has a deep bench of trial lawyers specializing in product liability litigation, mass actions and mass torts. The firm has extensive experience coordinating high-level strategy in matters related to consumer warranty, asbestos and general liability litigation, acting for some of the market's most significant automotive manufacturers, including Ford, Toyota, Kia, BMW and Honda. Go-to trial expert Paul Cereghini in Phoenix is experienced in high-exposure product liability and mass torts litigation. He co-leads the practice with Minneapolis-based Bard Borkon, who is known for catastrophic injury product liability litigation. Also recommended is executive managing partner Vincent Galvin, Jr. in San Jose, who has experience of matters involving AI and advance auto technologies.

Practice head(s):

Paul Cereghini; Bard Borkon

Key clients

Toyota Motor North America, Inc.

Ford Motor Company

Honda North America, Inc.

General Motors Company

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V.

Nissan North America, Inc.

Hyundai Motor America

Kia Motors America, Inc.

Mazda North American Operations

Yamaha Motor USA Corp


Jaguar Land Rover Automotive

Subaru of America, Inc.

Work highlights

  • Serves as national counsel to Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc. as their largest supplier of automotive product liability defense counsel in the United States.
  • Serves as lead discovery counsel responsible for all facets of written discovery, depositions, and document and ESI identification, collection and production, and key discovery motions. We will also serve as one of their designated lead trial counsel.
  • Serves as lead merits counsel, lead discovery counsel and lead trial counsel in the 6F35 transmission mass tort.
  • Lead Counsel in defense of nearly 1,500 motor vehicle warranty claims in both state and federal courts in California stemming from the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act.  Four different first-chair Bowman and Brooke trial attorneys served as Lead Trial Counsel in 19 trials throughout all of California including Sacramento, Los Angeles, Riverside, Orange, Stanislaus, Imperial and San Diego counties; as well as Central and Southern Federal District of California Courts.
  • Co-Lead Counsel to Toyota in TRW Nationwide Airbag Mass Tort.

Dykema Gossett PLLC

Dykema Gossett PLLC acts for OEMs and automotive industry suppliers in automotive product liability and recall litigation across the country. In addition to this core expertise, the practice group also has experience of personal injury and wrongful death cases, and property damage claims. Key litigators in the team include practice head Terri Reiskin in Washington DC; Los Angeles-based Derek Whitefield, who is leading class actions for a number of the firm's largest clients, including FCA US; and Michael Cooney in Detroit, who is acting a several wrongful death and catastrophic injury claims. The team was also strengthened by a number of arrivals in 2018-2019, including that of Michael Carey, who joined in Minneapolis from Bowman and Brooke LLP.

Practice head(s):

Terri Reiskin


‘Dykema has a deep bench in various aspects of the automotive industry, including product liability, class actions and supplier relations’

‘Terri Reiskin is an extremely talented class action lawyer’

‘Derek Whitefield is an excellent trial lawyer and product liability lawyer’

‘Battle tested trial team had much success over a five year period’   

‘Partners are hands on, team was leanly started and efficient’

‘Brian T Smith is extremely knowledgeable about our products and well connected in Detroit auto scene’

Key clients


Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc.

Work highlights

  • Lead counsel to FCA US LLC in connection with economic loss class actions and product liability cases relating to the monostable-style electronic shift selector in 2012-2014 Dodge Chargers and Chrysler 300s and 2014-2015 Jeep Grand Cherokees – the first lawsuit involving the monostable shifter to be tried. Jury returned a 12-0 defense verdict.
  • Successfully obtained dismissals for Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. and related companies in a product liability/personal injury lawsuit pending in the USDC for the Southern District of California.

King & Spalding LLP

King & Spalding LLP specializes in automotive class action work, with a breadth of expertise in general product liability and particular strength in matters relating to advanced automotive technology. Atlanta-based Philip Holladay has experience acting in catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases for automotive manufacturers across the United States and in Puerto Rico. He co-leads the team with Susan Clare, also in Atlanta, who been involved in recent cases for General Motors and Mercedes-Benz. Also recommended are consumer class actions experts John Hooper and Stephen Devereaux in New York and Atlanta, respectively; and Rachael Trummel, who joined the Chicago office in 2019 from Barack Ferrazzano Kirschbaum & Nagelberg LLP.

Practice head(s):

Phil Holladay; Susan Clare

Key clients

General Motors LLC

Toyota Motor North America

Honda North America, Inc.

Daimler AG / Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC

Subaru of America Inc.

Suzuki Motor of America, Inc.


Work highlights

  • Represented Toyota in product liability litigation and is currently representing it as strategic counsel in several products liability and class action cases pending in various courts nationwide.
  • Acted as lead counsel for GM Canada in a significant catastrophic personal injury action brought by a 27-year old German fighter pilot who sustained injuries in a rollover crash rendering him a quadriplegic.
  • One of 19 firms selected to work with GM in it is Strategic Legal Partner program.
  • Represent MBUSA in seven putative nationwide class actions in federal courts around the country, including: (1) an action filed in the S.D. Fla. alleging that the active restraint headrests installed in Mercedes-Benz vehicles are defective and pose a safety risk; (2) an action filed in the N.D. Ga in which plaintiffs allege that a common design defect affects the HVAC systems of 17 different classes of Mercedes-Benz vehicles manufactured over the span of 19 model years. We have successfully trimmed key components of claims in that case; (3) an action filed in the D.N.J. targeting alleged defects in panoramic sunroofs.
  • Defending Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A. in two product liability wrongful death lawsuits pending in Las Vegas, Nevada arising out of a high-profile crash involving a post-collision fire at the SpeedVegas experiential racetrack.

McGuireWoods LLP

The trial experts at McGuireWoods LLP represent leading automotive manufacturers in state and federal court litigation spanning automotive part liability, toxic tort and personal injury claims. Key figures in this space include firm managing partner Tracy Walker and Perry Miles, who handle nationwide class actions for Ford Motor Company, acting in a variety of product liability and asbestos claims. Also recommended is Courtney Shytle, who joined the Charlotte office in 2019 from Bowman and Brooke LLP and has experience in market leading cases involving defective airbags and diesel fuel systems. Diane Flannery heads the wider products, environmental and mass tort litigation practice.

Practice head(s):

Diane Flannery

Key clients

Ford Motor Company


Work highlights

  • National counsel to Ford for consumer fraud class actions.

Ballard Spahr LLP

Acting for auto manufacturers and parts suppliers, Ballard Spahr LLP is regularly involved in large class actions, government investigations and catastrophic personal injury matters. The practice group is headed by the ‘highly responsiveNeal Walters in New Jersey, who has defended and coordinated product liability and consumer claims through trial in jurisdictions around the country. Walters has recently been involved in class actions for long-standing clients Subaru of America and Kia Motors America, among others.

Practice head(s):

Neal Walters


‘Ballard Spahr’s automotive team has deep industry knowledge, with a particular strength in defending automotive class actions’

‘They are a highly responsive, creative and agile team’

‘Neal Walters has extensive industry knowledge and regularly delivers pragmatic advice tailored to the matter; he avoids a one size fits all approach to defending litigation’

‘Associate Casey Watkins is a standout member of the team, combining deep automotive knowledge with high quality advocacy’

Key clients

Subaru of America, Inc.

Kia Motors, Inc.

BMW North America

Rosenbauer Fire Trucks

Johnson Controls, Inc.


Work highlights

  • Successfully handled the defence of five significant class actions for Subaru of America, Inc. in the District of New Jersey and a separate, complex commercial matter in the District of California.
  • Defended Kia Motors America for over a decade, including three significant, recent class actions in which it has secured substantial results.
  • Served as coordinating counsel for Rosenbauer Fire Trucks in the defense of a product liability action, Underwood v. Rosenbauer, in Missouri State Court in which the plaintiff, a fireman, contended that he suffered permanent hearing loss as a result of the company’s alleged failure to equip the firetruck that it manufactured for his fire squad with sound protective equipment.
  • Served as co-counsel for automotive seat manufacturer, Johnson Controls, Inc. (JCI), in several product liability matters in the Third Circuit, including two matters pending in Pennsylvania and one in New Jersey.

Campbell Conroy & O’Neil

Campbell Conroy & O’Neil has acted for manufacturers in automotive and aviation matters, with particular expertise in product liability and personal injury litigation. Notable in the team are James Campbell in Boston and Philadelphia-based William Conroy.

Other key lawyers:

James Campbell; William Conroy

Norton Rose Fulbright

Norton Rose Fulbright handles class actions and individual cases involving auto services, defective parts, and collisions and personal injury. Spread across several major commercial centers nationwide, the team is well placed to represent major automotive and parts manufacturers, including BWM, in MDLs and large-scale class actions. The team is headed by Steven Jansma in San Antonio, who leads the firm's auto services litigation work for Walmart. Brett Young is a contact in the Houston office.

Practice head(s):

Steve Jansma


‘Highly efficient team players’

‘They have learned the business and contribute as team players as opposed to just being lawyers’

‘Stand out lawyers include Steve Jansma and Troy Vancil’

Key clients


Sunoco Marketing & Terminals LP

Energy Transfer Partners

Vulcan Materials Company


Cooper Tire and Rubber Company

Pep Boys – Manny, Moe & Jack

Work highlights

  • Serve as Regional Trial Counsel for Walmart and Sam’s Club for its auto services litigation.
  • Represented Energy Transfer Partners in a lawsuit stemming from an employee who collided with another vehicle involving the plaintiffs.
  • Represented Sunoco in a wrongful death case stemming from the death of a motorcyclist in a collision with one of the company’s tanker-trucks.
  • Representing Vulcan in six active trucking litigation matters. We are also assisting with multiple accident response and pre-suit claim matters.
  • Represented BMW AG in MDL related to the recall of certain vehicles using Takata airbags.

Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell LLP

Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell LLP is experienced in a range of product liability matters in the automotive sector. Names to note in the Denver-based team include Malcolm Wheeler and Michael O’Donnell, both of whom have a track record in class and mass actions, and various other civil litigation work.

DLA Piper LLP (US)

DLA Piper LLP (US)'s nationwide products liability group has experience acting for automotive industry clients in a range of product liability litigation and class actions. Names to note in the team are Atlanta-based Christopher Campbell, Mark Nadeau in the Phoenix office, and William Kiniry  in Philadelphia, who handles a wide range of commercial litigation, including consumer protection class actions.

Hogan Lovells US LLP

Hogan Lovells US LLP has experience representing OEMs and distributors in product liability claims and consolidated actions, appeals and large-scale recalls. Michael Kidney in Washington DC is a key figure in the team, as is Baltimore-based Lauren Colton.

Kirkland & Ellis LLP

Kirkland & Ellis LLP is recognized for its broad-base expertise in product liability and mass tort litigation, where it is often engaged by vehicle and automobile manufacturers, parts and component manufacturers, and aviation companies. In particular, the team has experience acting as national and regional counsel in product-threatening claims and matters relating to personal injuries. Key figures in the practice group are Washington DC-based Mike Brock, who focuses on trying product liability cases for automobile manufacturers and pharmaceutical and life sciences companies; and Richard Godfrey in Chicago, a senior litigator, and one of several of the firm's partners acting for General Motors in its ignition switch MDL.

Other key lawyers:

Mike Brock; Richard Godfrey

Key clients

General Motors LLC

Polaris Industries

ZF Friedrichshafen AG

Work highlights

  • Representing General Motors LLC (GM) in more than 250 class action and thousands of personal injury lawsuits and other civil litigation arising out of GM’s voluntary recalls relating to ignition switches, power steering, and numerous other vehicle recalls relating to safety and customer satisfaction that have been consolidated in federal and state multidistrict litigation (MDL).
  • Represents Polaris Industries Inc. and its subsidiary, Polaris Sales Inc., in a consolidated putative nationwide and multi-state consumer class action alleging economic loss claims in connection with the purchase of Polaris off-road vehicles.
  • Represents ZF-TRW Automotive Holdings Corp., its parent company, ZF Friedrichshafen AG, and a number of affiliated entities in a string of putative class actions concerning an Airbag Control Unit (ACU) manufactured and sold by ZF and supplied for use in at least 12.3 million vehicles across six Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) car companies in the U.S. (Honda, Hyundai Motor Group, Kia Motors Corp, FCA US LLC (Chrysler), Mitsubishi and Toyota Motor Corporation).

Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP

Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP’s automotive litigation team has represented clients in product liability claims and a variety of other tort and complex litigation. The firm has shown involvement in matters spanning heavy machinery to autonomous vehicles. Notable in the team are Kansas City-based Walter Cofer and Alicia Donahue, and Frank Kelly in San Francisco.

Condon & Forsyth LLP

Aviation and aerospace specialist Condon & Forsyth LLP is known for complex product liability litigation, as well as mass tort, insurance claims, and aviation regulatory matters. The team routinely acts for many of the best-known air carriers in the world, in addition to some of the largest and most active parts suppliers and leasing companies. The practice is led from New York by three aviation specialists: Christopher ChristensenBartholomew Banino, and John Maggio, who have recently been involved in crash litigation and personal injury claims for clients including Aeroflot, Menzies Aviation and Aeromexico. Anthony Battista is also active in the practice group.


‘The attorneys are among the best in the business in aviation matters’

‘They are fine lawyers, responsive and affordable’

‘Kathy Posner, Chris Christenson, David Harrington, John DeMay, Mary Dow, Diane Gurffel and their teams work well together, are responsive and consistently provide excellent results’

Key clients

Advent Aircraft Systems, Inc.

Aer Lingus


Bangkok Airways

British Airways Plc

Caribbean Airlines

Cathay Pacific Airways

Cebu Pacific Air

China Airlines

COPA Airlines

Kuwait Airways

LATAM Airlines

Lion Air

LOT Polish Airlines

Lufthansa German Airlines

Marsh Aviation


Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd.

Work highlights

  • Represented Air Lease Corporation, a leading global commercial aircraft lessor, in connection with a breach of contract litigation against Far Eastern Air Transport Corp., a Taiwanese air carrier, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
  • Represent Aeroflot as U.S. counsel in defense of claims arising out of a May 5, 2019 accident at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow, Russia involving Aeroflot Flight 1492.
  • Defend Kalitta against claims arising from a Dynamic International Airways engine fire at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on 29 October 2015 resulting in 80 alleged passenger injuries.  The firm is handling this matter out of the Miami, Florida office.
  • Responded on scene in Durango, Mexico after the crash of Flight AM2431 on July 31, 2018. After providing immediate crisis management and family support, we are now defending Aeromexico in multiple lawsuits throughout the United States.
  • Defend claims against Menzies by occupants of a bus that was struck by a Menzies vehicle on the ramp at Orlando International Airport.

O'Melveny & Myers LLP

O'Melveny & Myers LLP represents clients in a range of industries, focusing on product liability and consumer claims in mass tort proceedings, class actions and government enforcement actions. A name to note in this space is Randy Edwards, who is acting for Ford Motor Company in a number of federal court claims. The wider products liability group is jointly led by Washington DC-based Steve BrodyMatt Powers in San Francisco, and Sabrina Strong in Los Angeles.

Other key lawyers:

Randy Edwards

Key clients

Bird Rides, Inc.

Exxon Mobil

Ford Motor Company

Kia Motors America

Work highlights

  • Secured a victory for Ford in the Fourth Circuit, affirming a district court’s summary judgment rejecting a proposed class action alleging that Ford vehicles had a defective throttle system that caused unintended acceleration.
  • Obtaining the dismissal of numerous claims in a proposed class action accusing Ford of selling trucks with defective brakes.

Reed Smith LLP

Reed Smith LLP is active across a full range of product liability matters, representing clients in the automotive and marine industries, and boasting particular strength in the aviation-related work. Patrick Bradley in Princeton heads the firm's aviation litigation practice. Oliver Beiersdorf is also recommended; he has recently acted in cases for a US air carrier and a major auto manufacturer. Other contacts in the wider product liability group include Melissa Geist in Princeton, who specializes in pharmaceuticals and medical devices work, and Chicago-based Robert Roth, who has handled product liability cases in over a dozen states across the country.

Practice head(s):

Melissa Geist; Robert Roth

Sidley Austin LLP

Sidley Austin LLP has a strong track record in complex MDLs and aviation related matters. Notable in the team is senior counsel Sara Gourley, who works from the firm's Chicago office.