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Product liability, mass tort and class action - defense: consumer products (including tobacco) in United States

Arnold & Porter

Leading product liability firm Arnold & Porter stands out with its strong regulatory practice, drawing especially on its expertise in matters related to the Consumer Product Safety Commission as well as California’s Proposition 65 requirements. The firm frequently serves as national counsel in high stakes litigations across the country, taking on MDLs and nationwide class actions as well as state attorney general actions. Experienced trial and appellate lawyers Anand Agneshwar in New York and Daphne O’Connor in Washington DC co-chair the practice. San Francisco based Trent Norris litigates complex scientific and technical disputes, with a particular emphasis on the unique requirements of California law. Up-and-comer Michelle Gillice in Washington DC, who has over nine years of experience as an attorney at the CPSC, is a name to note in this space.

Practice head(s):

Anand Agneshwar; Daphne O’Connor

Other key lawyers:

Keri Arnold; Eric Rubel; Lori Leskin; Michelle Gillice; Trent Norris

Key clients

Altria Group and affiliates, including Philip Morris USA Inc.

Samsung

Bayer (Monsanto) Company

Pfizer

Ikea

Britax

Dunkin’ Brands, Inc., 7-Eleven, BP West Coast Products and Yum Donuts

Grocery Manufacturers Association

National Coffee Association

Zinus

Work highlights

  • Acting as national counsel for Altria and Philip Morris USA in numerous actions that have been filed across the country based on an evapor product manufactured and sold by Juul Labs Inc.
  • Won and important victory for Atlantic Richfield in the Illinois Supreme Court in affirming summary judgment for lack of injury in a certified class action involving lead paint, which has potentially broad application in product liability class actions asserting claims for economic injury rather than personal injury.
  • Obtained a favorable settlement for client Britax, a significant win for the firm. Defended against a class action and ended up settling for a minimal commitment from the client, before any discovery was ever conducted.

Jones Day

Drawing on its strong appellate practice, broad geographic reach and extensive jury trial experience, Jones Day represents clients from a broad range of industries as they face complex mass torts and class actions. The firm is at the forefront of defending clients against recent trends in consumer product litigation, such as representing a client in class actions challenging the efficacy of its hand sanitizing product filed at the outset of the covid19 pandemic. Atlanta-based Stephanie Parker is a renowned lawyer who has extensive experience trying and leading ‘bet-the-company’ litigation and is active for tobacco company R.J. Reynolds. New York based of counsel Theodore Grossman handles large-scale toxic torts disputes for Daikin America and Daikin Industries. Jennifer Weizenecker, Mike Quinlan and Jacqueline Pasek were promoted to partner in January 2021.

Practice head(s):

Stephanie Parker

Other key lawyers:

Theodore Grossman; Frank Bayuk; Jack Williams

Key clients

Daikin America/Daikin Industries

Merck & Co.

The Pennsylvania State University; Trustees of Boston College; Brigham Young University; University of Miami; University of Notre Dame Du Lac; The University of Pittsburgh

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company

The Sherwin-Williams Company

Morrison & Foerster LLP

Morrison & Foerster LLP helps guide its clients through all phases of their product’s life cycle, advising them on regulatory compliance, product labelling and litigation risk, as well as defending them in product liability disputes. The firm has a diverse client roster of household names including leading technological companies. David Fioccola in New York co-heads the practice together with Erin Bosman based in San Diego and San Francisco, who handles many of the firm’s most high-profile matters in this space. Julie Park in San Diego remains a lawyer to watch as she manages complex and multi-jurisdictional litigation both in state and federal court as well as product recalls. First-chair trial lawyer Jessica Grant joined the team from Venable LLP in January 2020, while David Walsh left for Paul Hastings LLP in October 2020.

Practice head(s):

Erin Bosman; David Fioccola

Other key lawyers:

Julie Park; James Schurz; William Tarantino; Claudia Vetesi

Key clients

Fitbit

Coffee Joint Defense Group

Etsy

Work highlights

  • Acting as Fitbit’s lead product liability counsel for all litigation matters. The firm has also represented Fitbit before the Consumer Product Safety Commission since 2014 and advises on new product development and risk mitigation, including media and public relations counseling, assisting with the coordination of product testing, and advising on product warnings and labels.
  • Representing more than 70 companies that roast, package, and distribute over 90% of coffee sold in the United States, including Starbucks Corporation, the J.M. Smucker Company, and other major players . The complaint claims that these companies—and the retailers who sell their products—are required under Prop 65 to provide cancer warnings on coffee based on the chemical acrylamide, which is created when coffee beans are roasted. Secured a summary judgement in August 2020, effectively ending a 10-year litigation battle involving 46 days of trial in a phased trial.
  • Defending Etsy against litigation in Morin v. Little Impressions et al. filed in San Bernardino County Superior Court. The matter involves a product liability claim related to a product allegedly purchased on Etsy’s website.

Greenberg Traurig LLP

The client list of the trial-ready team at Greenberg Traurig LLP spans a broad range of industries, from pet food manufacturers and retailers to electronic device companies. The firm has extensive experience in complex mass torts and class actions, taking on lead roles for clients. For example, the firm has acted as national counsel in a recent matter related to JUUL vaping devices. Francis A. Citera, who has thirty years of experience co-chairs the products liability and mass torts practice together with Gretchen N. Miller in Chicago. Atlanta-based Lori G. Cohen, a renowned lawyer in the product liability space, is co-chair of global litigation. Of counsel Brandon Cox  joined the firm from Tucker Ellis LLP while the Miami product liability practice was strengthened with Rebecca Ocariz and Enjoliqué Aytch Lett from Akerman LLP  and by Alex Lagos from Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP in January 2021.

Practice head(s):

Francis Citera; Gretchen Miller; Lori Cohen

Other key lawyers:

Robert Herrington; David Coulson

Testimonials

‘ Clear expertise and experience in class action lawsuits. Deep expertise in all areas including appeal work. – extremely responsive – quickly gets up to speed on the company and the issues. Develops deep understanding of our business.’

‘Dave Coulson- excellent quarterback. Deep expertise and knowledge, practical. Rick L. Shackelford – very knowledgeable/ clever in the way the knowledge is applied, extremely skilled in negotiation and during mediation. Jared Kessler – very skilled and helpful. Elisa Baca – has mastered the evidence to an encyclopedic level, and does excellent behind the scenes work. Elliot Scherker – did an excellent job for us on one of our appeals.’

 

Key clients

Bird Rides, Inc.

Champion Petfoods LP

Bausch Health Companies, Inc.

Albertsons Companies, Inc.

Twin Hill Acquisition Company, Inc., a subsidiary of The Men’s Wearhouse

Underwriters Laboratories Inc.

Lockheed Martin Company

Univar Inc.

Whole Foods Market Group, Inc.

Energizer Holdings, Inc.; Energizing Manufacturing, Inc; Energizer, LLC

RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company

Samsung Electronics America, Inc.

Activision Blizzard, Inc.

DevaConcepts LLC

Ovivo USA LLC

Qualcomm Incorporated and Sony Electronics Inc.

Work highlights

  • Represents Champion Petfoods in nearly 20 national putative class action lawsuits alleging Champion’s pet food products contain heavy metals and BPA, rendering some statements on its packaging misleading. Over the past year the firm has landed multiple blows against ‘litigation tourism’ in their representation of Champion, including winning crucial personal jurisdiction motions by applying the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Bristol-Myers Squibb to putative class actions filed in California (Reitman v. Champion) and Illinois (Leppert v. Champion).
  • Represented UL LLC in the affirmance of a dismissal by the Eleventh Circuit from the Southern District of Florida in a products liability matter alleging false advertising under the Lanham Act, and requesting injunctive relief for violations of the Lanham Act and the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.
  • Represents Samsung in putative class actions alleging false advertising and product defects involving the Galaxy S7, S8, and Note 8 devices in the Central District of California, Northern District of California and Eastern District of Wisconsin. The firm won multiple, highly-contested motions to compel arbitration of named plaintiffs’ claims, gutting the plaintiffs’ cases for certification. Pang v. Samsung Elecs. Am., Inc., 371 F. Supp. 3d 633, 635 (N.D. Cal. 2019); Velasquez-Reyes v. Samsung Elecs. Am., Inc., No. ED CV 16-1953-DMG (KKx), 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 209802 (C.D. Cal. Oct. 20, 2020).

Kirkland & Ellis LLP

The team at Kirkland & Ellis LLP has experience in class actions, multidistrict litigations, defect and recall investigations and appeals as well as environmental issues. Washington DC-based Mike Brock is a key figure in the team, who represents clients from the life sciences, automotive and energy sectors, while senior litigator Renee Smith in Chicago acts for steel manufacturers and tobacco clients, among others. Andrew McGaan in Chicago continues to be an eminent lawyer in this space.

Other key lawyers:

Mike Brock; Renee Smith; Andrew McGaan

Key clients

JUUL Labs

Kobe Steel, Ltd.

Omega Flex

Wayfair LLC

Woodstream Corporation

ZF-TRW Automotive Holdings Corporation

Johnson & Johnson

Allergan

Work highlights

  • Representing Juul Labs, Inc. in federal multidistrict litigation and related antitrust, securities, shareholder and derivative lawsuits pending in federal court, as well as a variety of state court actions (including over a dozen Attorney General lawsuits). The lawsuits involve alleged fraudulent marketing and products liability claims related to JUUL products, which are Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (“ENDS”) . Plaintiffs’ allegations include youth marketing, misrepresentations or omissions regarding the amount or potency of nicotine in JUUL products, and/or that JUUL products are defective or unreasonably dangerous because they are addictive and/or cause or contribute to adverse mental and physical health effects, and seek recovery under multiple theories.
  • Acts as national counsel for Allergan in connection with thousands of civil suits as well as government investigations related to its sale and marketing of opioid medications. This litigation has been described in the press as the largest mass tort litigation in American history. In 2017, the federal cases were consolidated by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. The firm is also lead counsel in the MDL.
  • Represented Kobe and its U.S. affiliates in a putative consumer class action arising from the scandal in which Kobe admitted to falsifying certain specification test results for metals supplied to customers, including automobile manufacturers. The plaintiffs, owners of certain Toyota vehicles, alleged that the vehicles contain ‘substandard’ steel, aluminum and copper affected by the data falsification, and made claims including breach of warranty and consumer fraud.

Latham & Watkins LLP

The 'great strategic thinkers' at Latham & Watkins LLP defend and advise some of the major players in the tobacco industry and take on high-profile aggregate cases, most recently in a proposed class action targeting Apple. The firm also stands out for its international work, such as its defense of Phillip Morris International in a lawsuit filed by the South Korean National Health Insurance Service (NHIS) to recoup healthcare costs, the first such case ever to be filed in South Korea. In the Boston office recognized litigators and product liability experts Kenneth Parsigian and Gwyn Williams head the team. Robert Collins III was promoted to partner in January 2020.

Practice head(s):

Gwyn Williams; Kenneth Parsigian

Testimonials

‘Great strategic thinkers. Extremely responsive. Understands client objectives Overall pleasure to work with.’

‘Cary Perlman, Robin Hulshizer and Kevin Jakopchek represent the qualities mentioned above. Overall great people to work with. Personally invested and passionate about achieving successful outcome.’

Key clients

Apple

Chevron

Clorox

Colgate Palmolive and Tom’s of Maine

Land’s End

Navistar & Navistar International Corp

Philip Morris International

Philip Morris International/Altria/Rothmans, Benson & Hedges Inc.

Philip Morris International and Swedish Match

Philip Morris USA

Rothmans, Benson & Hedges Inc.

Weyerhaeuser

Work highlights

  • Defending Apple against a proposed class action which alleges ‘fixes for a pair of security bugs slowed down the processing speed of Apple devices.’ Apple’s potential exposure is significant, as the scope of putative class includes anyone across the world who owns an Apple device.
  • Serving as the global co-ordinating counsel for PMI in several matters involving healthcare cost recoupment cases in class actions where plaintiffs are seeking to recover their healthcare costs for treating diseases, allegedly caused by smoking dating back to the 1950s.
  • Secured a favorable jury verdict in a high-profile lawsuit that involved product liability, consumer protection, and breach of warranty claims. The client sold a line of joists that contained a formaldehyde-based resin for fire protection purposes, and the firm successfully persuaded a 6-member Colorado jury and the court to find for Weyerhaeuser on a majority of these high-stake claims.

Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP

Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP represents clients from a broad range of industries and has handled a variety of large-scale class actions as well as individual cases aggregated under multidistrict litigation or state consolidation procedures. The firm recently expanded its California presence with a new office in Los Angeles, led by Michael Mallow, one of the group co-heads. Co-heads Holly Smith, who has expertise in class actions, and Tristan Duncan, experienced in multidistrict litigation as well as federal and state appellate work, lead the group from Kansas City. While George Dougherty retired, of counsel Christopher Wray   joined the team from the Missouri Attorney General’s office. Kenneth Reilly in Miami remains a lawyer of renown in this space.

Practice head(s):

Holly Smith; Tristan Duncan; Michael Mallow

Other key lawyers:

Amir Nassihi; Jim Muehlberger; Kenneth Reilly

Key clients

Unilever United States, Inc.

Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc.

Dakkota Integrated Systems, LLC

Tyson Foods, Inc.

Speedway LLC

Shutterfly Lifetouch, LLC and Shutterfly, LLC

Simmons Foods, Inc.

The Chemours Company

University of Missouri

OSI Systems

PAWSitive Solutions, Inc.

ADT LLC

DeLaval Inc.

Procter & Gamble

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP

With a breath of experience in product liability work Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP  has assisted industry-leading companies in complex consumer class actions and mass torts. The firm can also draw on extensive regulatory expertise, advising clients and representing them in proceedings before relevant agencies and commissions. Moreover, the team has been praised for its 'client-centric approach'.  Following Arvin Maskin’s retirement in December 2020, acclaimed trial lawyer Diane Sullivan in Princeton now leads the group together with David Singh in Silicon Valley, who acts for some of the practice’s most high-profile clients. Silicon Valley-based Bambo Obaro was promoted to partner in January 2020 and plays a key role in several core matters.

Practice head(s):

Diane Sullivan; David Singh

Other key lawyers:

Theodore Tsekerides; Bambo Obaro

Testimonials

‘Weil Gotshal & Manges has great legal networks and they are very professional to propose legal strategy. We feel very secured by seeing their professional service, such as their legal documents and negotiation with plaintiffs.’

‘I would recommend David Yohai, David Singh, David H. Leslie, Audrey Stano.’

Weil Gotshal & Manges always takes a client-centric approach and they listen to our needs and wants and provide us with the practive solutions. We were impressed by their professional service. Weil Gotshal & Manges came over to Japan to have interviews with our relevant employees for the class action, and they quickly understand the complex business and technical issues, and the way they conduct the interview is very professional.’

Key clients

Johnson & Johnson

Procter & Gamble

Exxon Mobil

Repsol, S.A.

Tarkett Sports

PG&E Corporation

Panasonic Corporation of North America

Starbucks

Core-Mark

Dometic Corporation

PetroChina International (America)

Work highlights

  • Serving as one of the primary nationwide lead trial counsel for Johnson & Johnson in the mass tort alleging that personal hygiene products containing talcum powder cause certain types of cancer.
  • Serving as lead defense counsel to Exxon Mobil in a multi-front fight in state and federal courts around the country relating to the use of MTBE as an additive in gasoline.
  • Secured the dismissal of a highly-publicized consumer class action in New York federal court for Starbucks alleging the company widely used a toxic pesticide in their Manhattan store locations.

Winston & Strawn LLP

Winston & Strawn LLP has long-term relationships with its clients in the tobacco sector and acts for clients in the food and beverage sector, handling litigation related to false advertising, FDA-issued recalls and cases brought by state attorneys general. The firm’s legal innovation centre which opened in 2019 assists the team's litigation work by performing complex document reviews with lower-cost reviewers and advanced analytical tools. George Lombardi in Chicago co-chairs the litigation department; he represents Phillip Morris in tobacco-related disputes. Experienced trial lawyer Sandra Edwards in San Francisco, who joined from Farella Braun + Martel LLP in Fall 2019, and Matthew Campbell in Washington DC jointly head the product liability and mass tort practice group.  Michael Murphy from K&L Gates and Daniel Blouin from Seyfarth Shaw LLP joined the firm in March 2020.

Practice head(s):

George Lombardi; Sandra Edwards; Matthew Campbell

Other key lawyers:

Chris Essig

Key clients

Atlantic Richfield Company

Philip Morris

Schlumberger Technology Corporation

Cameron International

The J.M. Smucker Company

Work highlights

  • Represented Monsanto Company in the first Roundup® product liability jury trial in the country defending against allegations that the herbicide causes non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Following an eight-week jury trial, the trial team successfully reduced a punitive damages award by $211 million, which was further reduced on appeal (D. Johnson v. Monsanto Co.). Have since been tapped to serve as lead trial counsel for two additional Roundup product liability trials.

Bowman and Brooke LLP

Boutique product liability firm Bowman and Brooke LLP serves in lead and national counsel roles for clients from a broad range of industries, from cosmetics and kitchen equipment to plumbing products. In a recent high profile matter, it is defending Riddell in concussion litigation regarding helmets used in the National Football League and NCAA. Top trial lawyer Paul Cereghini and Jeffrey Warren, who has significant experience in managing complex disputes, lead the group from the Phoenix office. The team was strengthened by the arrival of Dan Bauch in October 2020 from American Honda Motor and Tori Levine in February 2020 from Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP. Senior counsel Amanda Heitz remains a key member of the team.

Practice head(s):

Paul Cereghini; Jeffrey Warren

Other key lawyers:

Robert Wise

Key clients

Riddell, Inc./BRG Sports

Makita U.S.A., Inc.

BrassCraft Manufacturing Company (Masco)

American Honda Motor Co., Inc.

Yamaha Motor Corporation, USA

Britax Child Safety, Inc.

The Husqvarna Group

Razor USA LLC

L’Oreal

The Toro Company

TM Claims Service, Inc.

Work highlights

  • Continue to serve as national counsel representing helmet maker Riddell, Inc., in the much-publicized concussion litigation.
  • Obtained a defense verdict for Makita U.S.A. in the company’s first case tried to a verdict in 15 years.
  • Lead counsel to Britax in an Arizona suit alleging injuries resulting from a defective child seat.

Goodwin

Goodwin’s products litigation & counselling group, recently renamed to reflect an increased focus on pre-litigation matters, has the ability to handle cases across the country as mass torts and MDLs. With its global operations team the firm can assist clients not only with legal but also with operational issues. Glenn Kerner leads the group and represents several high-profile clients from the pharmaceutical and medical device industry. Joanne Gray, an acclaimed lawyer in the food and healthy living sector, continues to be a key figure. Up-and-comer Nilda Isidro has expanded her focus on matters involving innovative and emerging technologies. All named lawyers are based in New York.

Practice head(s):

Glenn Kerner

Other key lawyers:

Joanne Gray; Richard Oetheimer; Nilda Isidro

Key clients

Herbalife International, Inc.

Kolmar Laboratories Inc.

Work highlights

  • Has represented Herbalife International, Inc. for several years, and is responsible for developing and executing all products liability and mass tort litigation strategy for Herbalife in the U.S. and for global litigation strategy on international products liability lawsuits.

Herbert Smith Freehills

Herbert Smith Freehills stands out with its focus on international consulting, advising major corporations and multinationals in disputes and regulatory engagements in the US and around the world. The team offers guidance on various dynamic issues with product liability implications, such as climate change or supply-chain transparency and accountability. Gregory Loss in New York heads the team, he has 25 years of experience in commercial litigation and works closely with key client British American Tobacco. Benjamin Rubinstein in New York is a key individual with climate change-related expertise.

Practice head(s):

Gregory Loss

Other key lawyers:

Joseph Falcone; Benjamin Rubinstein

Key clients

British American Tobacco (BAT)

Eni S.p.A.

Work highlights

  • Advising British American Tobacco on numerous high-stake product liability matters.
  • Defending Eni SpA and Eni Oil and Gas Inc. in lawsuits filed by several California municipalities and one trade association, which assert claims under nuisance and trespass theories of liability and seek billions of dollars to repair and protect infrastructure and other public property.

King & Spalding LLP

King & Spalding LLP draws on a deep trial bench and a wide national reach to represent clients as national counsel as well as at trial and appellate level, and is especially noteworthy for its strong class action practice. Randy Bassett, who is regularly lead counsel in tobacco cases and David Balser co-chair the group from the Atlanta office. The team has grown considerably in 2020, expanding its product liability capabilities. A group from Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP joined in February 2020: Shaila Diwan, Morton Dubin, John Ewald, Kristen Fournier, Alvin Lee and Kathy O’Connor. New arrivals from Boies Schiller Flexner LLP strengthened the firm’s California presence: Albert Giang and Lennette Lee joined the team in May 2020 and Damien Marshall in June 2020.

Practice head(s):

Randy Bassett; David Balser

Other key lawyers:

Stephen Devereaux; Morty Dubin

Key clients

The Home Depot, U.S.A.

Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc.

MSA The Safety Company

Progressive Casualty Insurance Company

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company

Sony Electronics, Inc.

Wurth Louis and Company

Work highlights

  • Serving as national coordinating and trial counsel for Johnson & Johnson in connection with claims alleging the plaintiffs developed mesothelioma as a result of using talcum-based Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower body powder.
  • Represents R.J. Reynolds in the numerous ‘Engle Progeny’ tobacco cases pending in Florida.
  • Serves as lead national counsel for Home Depot on putative consumer class actions filed in various jurisdictions across the U.S., including in a recent high-profile suit under California’s Unfair Competition Law seeking to certify a class of California consumers who purchased the herbicide Roundup.

Mayer Brown

Mayer Brown focuses on advising and defending food and beverage companies against false advertising consumer class actions and has achieved considerable victories in this space. The firm also acts for clients in other sectors, serving as national counsel for Philip Morris USA in a significant dispute. In the Los Angeles office up-and-comer Keri Borders, who has successfully represented a number of large multinational corporations in false advertising class actions, and Dale Giali , described as 'very knowledgeable in litigation and risk assessments', co-head the group together with Carmine Zarlenga, a trusted advisor to major food and beverage companies in Washington DC.

Practice head(s):

Keri Borders; Dale Giali; Carmine Zarlenga

Testimonials

‘They possess great expertise in their area of law; they are constantly updating us on useful topics and keeping us informed on the areas of law that are highly important for our business.’

‘Dale Giali- Very knowledgeable in litigation and risk assessments, highly responsive, always hits deadlines, even when tight, always keeps us updated on where our matters stand (we never have to check in nor ask for status updates).’

Keri Borders- Very knowledgeable- always ready to aid when Dale isn’t available.’

‘I call this team every time I receive a demand letter. They excel at defending against consumer fraud claims and negotiating low cost settlements. They’ve taken the time to understand my company, the products we manufacture and the customers we serve. Their expertise is unparalleled and their counsel vital.’

‘Dale Giali and Keri Borders are both at the top of their field. They are incredibly skilled at handling class actions and other litigation regarding the marketing and sale of retail food products. They provide invaluable advice and gold standard client service.’

Key clients

Amy’s Kitchen, Inc.

Blue Bottle Coffee

Campbell Soup Company

Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream, Inc.

Ferrero USA Inc.

Foster Poultry Farms

Ghirardelli Chocolate

Halo Top/Eden Creamery

Lindt & Sprüngli

Nestlé USA

Work highlights

  • Prevailed on behalf of Ghirardelli Chocolate Co. in a consumer class action alleging that its white baking chips product is falsely advertised as white chocolate. In dismissing the complaint, the court agreed that it would not be appropriate to base liability off of a consumer’s misunderstanding of the word ‘white’ where the product never claims to be chocolate.
  • Obtained a dismissal of a consumer class action complaint alleging false advertising of client Nestlé’s iconic Coffee-mate product, on preemption and FRCP 9(b) grounds, and separately prevailed on a motion to strike immaterial and impertinent allegations.
  • Successfully opposed class certification—and then successfully opposed a motion to amend the complaint—in a case alleging that client Foster Poultry Farms under-declared the amount of added water in its products. This decision is significant because it provides much needed guidance at the intersection of the tsunami of product liability and false advertising class actions against food producers, California’s notorious consumer-friendly laws, and preemption based on the pervasive set of US laws governing food and food labeling.

McGuireWoods LLP

McGuireWoods LLP stands out with its longstanding client relationships - some of which span decades - and is active in MDL litigation, class actions and single or multiple plaintiff personal injury claims. The firm also advises clients on pre-litigation matters, such as warning labels. Diane Flannery, who has extensive experience coordinating and managing large-scale defense efforts, leads the products, environmental & mass tort litigation group from Richmond. R. Trent Taylor, also in Richmond, is another key member of the group with a focus on food labeling and safety issues among others.

Practice head(s):

Diane Flannery

Other key lawyers:

R. Trent Taylor; Mark Anderson; Stephen Busch

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.’

‘Fixed fee arrangement with flexible caps provided some measure of cost assurance in contentious, extended litigation.’

‘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

Lumber Liquidators, Inc.

STIHL Incorporated

Universal Corp. and Universal Leaf Tobacco Company

Work highlights

  • Representing 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.
  • Represented Lumber Liquidators, an American retailer of flooring, as lead counsel in MDL litigation involving more than 140 class actions alleging excessive levels of formaldehyde in Chinese manufactured laminate flooring and false marketing and deceptive trade practices. After winning partial summary judgment and dismissal of half of the claims, and a partial motion to dismiss, the parties reached a favorable settlement in the Eastern District of Virginia.
  • Represented STIHL Incorporated, a German manufacturer of chainsaws and other handheld power equipment. On Nov. 14, 2019, a jury in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas returned a defense verdict for STIHL Incorporated, in a product liability case, Pennington v. Stihl Incorporated, et al., in which the plaintiff alleged that the design of the shoulder straps on a backpack leaf blower manufactured by STIHL was defective and caused his injuries. The jury found that the backpack leaf blower was not defective.

O'Melveny & Myers LLP

O'Melveny & Myers LLP defends clients against product liability and consumer claims in mass tort proceedings, class actions, and government enforcement actions, integrating its strong appellate practice from the outset. The team has experience in multi-district litigation as well as litigation and investigations brought by state attorneys general. The client list in the consumer products space ranges from the food and beverage industry to leading technological companies. Recognized trial lawyer Steve Brody in Washington DC co-heads the practice together with Matt Powers in San Francisco, who handles complex, multiparty commercial litigation and Sabrina Strong in Los Angeles, an accomplished trial lawyer and appellate advocate. Jonathan Schneller was promoted to partner in January 2021.

Practice head(s):

Steve Brody; Matt Powers; Sabrina Strong

Other key lawyers:

Hannah Chanoine

Key clients

Johnson & Johnson

Colgate-Palmolive Company

Advanced Micro Devices

Work highlights

  • Defending Hill’s Pet Nutrition in approximately 41 class actions arising from a nationwide recall of dozens of varieties of canned dog foods following a supplier error.

Sidley Austin LLP

Sidley Austin LLP has experience in defending clients against actions brought by state attorneys general and regulatory agencies as well as against consumer fraud class actions. The team has acted in state and federal courts and arbitrations across the nation. Maja Eaton in Chicago is a key figure and has defended and tried a wide variety of product liability litigation. Alycia Degen in Los Angeles regularly acts as lead counsel in California federal and state court, while Heidi Levine in New York represents clients and advises them on risk management, analysis and prevention, as well as conducting pre-litigation assessments and due diligence.

Other key lawyers:

Maja Eaton; Alycia Degen; Heidi Levine

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP frequently serves as lead coordinating counsel for its clients and can draw on considerable expertise in mass torts and multi-district litigation. John Beisner leads the practice; he not only handles complex civil litigation in federal and state courts but also acts for clients in appellate litigations. The firm is also active in changing the legal landscape for its clients, working with organizations such as the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform to develop legislative initiatives and studies.

Practice head(s):

John Beisner

Other key lawyers:

Jessica Miller; Richard Bernardo; Geoffrey Wyatt

Baker McKenzie LLP

Baker McKenzie LLP offers clients a robust product recall and counselling practice, as well as representing them in courts throughout the country and before US regulatory agencies. A particular area of strength is litigation surrounding product labelling. The firm has a global presence, and uses innovative technology, such as SparkBeyond’s AI-powered problem-solving technology which predicts client demand. Mark Goodman in San Francisco leads the group; he is a trial lawyer with experience in multidistrict litigation and class actions. The team was bolstered with two new FDA specialists, previously at McDermott Will & Emery LLP, in the DC office in October 2019: Veleka Peeples-Dyer and Khelin Aiken.

Practice head(s):

Mark Goodman

Other key lawyers:

Erin Maus

Key clients

Bimbo Bakeries USA

Google LLC/Alphabet, Inc.

Huntsman Building Solutions

ICU Medical

K&N Engineering, Inc.

McCormick and Co.

Mondelēz Global LLC

Muller Martini Corporation

Topco Associates, LLC

Work highlights

  • Defended Bimbo Bakeries USA in a class-action case against the company alleging unlawful food labelling in violation of the California False Claims Act relating to almost 200 of the company’s products. After successfully winnowing the claims through motions to dismiss and then defeating the plaintiffs’ efforts to certify a class of consumers to seek damages for alleged labeling violations, the team reached a very favorable settlement for the client at mediation. In granting final approval the Court further reduced the settlement amount by USD 100,000 and refused to award incentive payments to the named plaintiffs.
  • Obtained judgment on a motion to dismiss for client K&N Engineering in a products liability class action in federal court in Minnesota. Without any need for discovery, the Court dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims without leave to amend for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”). The decision sets a strong precedent for defendants challenging class actions based on overbroad class definitions that seek to inflate potential damages amounts.
  • Represents Topco Associates, LLC in a putative class action alleging unfair trade practices under Pennsylvania law, breach of warranty claims under state law and the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and unjust enrichment claims related to the marketing and sale of infants’ over the counter (OTC) medical products.

DLA Piper LLP (US)

With its global footprint DLA Piper LLP (US) is well equipped to take on international clients such as TTE, a China-based television manufacturer the firm is defending against a multi-state false advertising consumer class action. Christopher Campbell in Atlanta, Loren Brown in New York and James Brogan in Philadelphia are at the helm of the group which 'consistently achieves favorable outcomes'. The team has grown in February 2020, with new hires David Jaroslaw, Keelin Kavanaugh and Arthur Hoffmann from Greenspoon Marder LLP contributing their experience in the tobacco space. John Phillips, who brings class action expertise, joined the team in March 2020 from Paul Hastings LLP.

Practice head(s):

Chris Campbell; Loren Brown; James Brogan

Other key lawyers:

Chris Young; Maggie Craig

Testimonials

‘The DLA team brings great experience though its product liability practice, combined with great collaboration to understand its client and factors important to the representation, and timely/effective communication. DLA consistently achieves favorable outcomes. DLA’s attorneys are invested in the relationship, not just a particular claim or lawsuit.’

‘Consistently good work from Jim Brogan, Nancy Rappaport and Brian Boyle. ’

‘DLA is preeminent in the product liability defense field. I’ve found them to be excellent trial lawyers and practitioners. They provide a nice mix of legal expertise and common sense to issues.’

‘In my more than 35 years of practice I consider James Brogan to be one of the finest litigators I’ve ever had the privilege to work with. He is the epitome of how one would want their legal representative to conduct themselves. I have the utmost confidence in his work.’

‘Nancy Rappaport is an excellent attorney, trial lawyer and brief writer. She’s also a fierce advocate.’

Key clients

Arconic Inc.

Just Brands USA, Inc.

Clorox

Sanofi Inc.

Imperial Brands PLC

TTE

Blue Diamond Growers

Inicia Ltd.

Work highlights

  • Obtained a dismissal of a putative nationwide class actions filed against Just Brands USA, Inc., Just Brands FL, LLC, and Just Brands, Inc., in the Southern District of Florida.
  • Filed a motion for summary judgment on behalf of The Clorox Company and affiliated entities in a Lanham Act false advertising and false designation of origin case filed in federal court in the Southern District of California.

Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP

Especially strong in toxic tort matters, Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP also acts for major tobacco companies and manufacturers in consumer product liability claims. In New York Robb Patryk, who has 30 years of experience in complex torts and James C. Fitzpatrick, who has particular strengths in the pharmaceutical space, lead the group. David Woods in Kansas City is a key figure; he has a scientific background and represents tobacco companies in a wide variety of matters. Diane Lifton left the firm in August 2020 to accept a role at Sumitovant Biopharma.

Practice head(s):

Robb Patryk; James Fitzpatrick

Other key lawyers:

David Woods; Tina Schaefer; James Berger

Key clients

Ferro Corporation

Imerys Talc America/Imerys S.A.

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company

LG Electronics Mobilecomm USA, Inc.

Work highlights

  • Acts as national Coordination Counsel and trial counsel in defense of cases concerning exposure to asbestos in cigarette filter material.

Kelley Drye & Warren LLP

Kelley Drye & Warren LLP stands out for its expertise in Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) disputes, defending various clients from the food and beverage industry to large retailers against TCPA class actions. The team is particularly recognized for its ' extensive experience in dealing with class action litigation', and also acts for clients in consumer claims or regulatory actions relating to false or deceptive advertising. New Jersey-based Lauri Mazzuchetti, one of the founders of the firm’s Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) practice, co-heads the group with Jonathan Cooperman in New York.

Practice head(s):

Lauri Mazzuchetti; Jonathan Cooperman

Other key lawyers:

Jeff Castello; Michael Lynch

Testimonials

‘Extensive experience in dealing with class action litigation. Good coordination of assets within the firm to accomplish complicated tasks. Higher skill level and experience with ‘bigger’ companies than other firms.’

‘Sincere desire to win our cases and come to the best conclusion for our needs.’

‘The partner I worked with has significant experience with recalls and could walk me through every step of the process. She also connected me with an expert on short notice, which was extremely valuable.’

Key clients

Endeavor

Kohl’s Department Stores

Quincy Bioscience

Walgreens

Sotheby’s International Realty, Inc.

Essendant

Take-Two Interactive Software

Riviana Foods

Work highlights

  • Has long represented Quincy BioScience in Prevagen-related regulatory, counseling and litigation matters, including before the NAD and in the Federal Trade Commission investigation that led to litigation brought by the FTC and the New York Attorney General’s Office, and seven related class-actions pending across the country.
  • Successfully secured summary judgment for Budweiser Brew House, a three-level entertainment venue outside of Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Plaintiff filed claims under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) in February 2020.
  • Represented Frieze Events, Inc.—a subsidiary of Endeavor — which operates the Frieze Art Fair, an international contemporary art fair. During Frieze New York 2018, with nearly 200 galleries displaying their work, there was an unprecedented heatwave. One participant—Shane Campbell Gallery—filed a class action lawsuit in the Southern District of New York on behalf of all galleries, alleging that Frieze did not provide adequate air conditioning and sought a full refund of the fees that Frieze collected. Won dismissal of the case in May 2020.