Product liability, mass tort and class action - defense: toxic tort in United States

Arnold & Porter

Combining a core environmental practice headed from Washington DC by Brian Israel , with overarching product liability expertise led by Anand Agneshwar and Daphne O’Connor, from New York and Washington DC, respectively, Arnold & Porter is well positioned to advise major multinational entities in toxic tort disputes involving diverse chemicals and other contaminatory materials. As well as its ability to handle private class action claims (often in the role of national co-ordinating counsel), the team is also well-equipped to navigate any pursuant government investigation/enforcement action and is tapped into various regulatory agency’s mindsets at both state and federal level. Indeed, from its San Francisco office, Trent Norris  is widely regarded as one of the leading authorities on California’s Proposition 65 law and regularly provides counselling and litigation advice to businesses that fall under its ambit. William Hoffman in Washington DC is a seasoned trial and appellate lawyer, whose product liability prowess has frequently seen him engaged in high-profile toxic tort mandates, including advising Bayer on the ongoing litigation involving the legacy Monsanto product RoundUp.

Key clients

Altria Group and affiliates, including Philip Morris USA Inc.

BP

Monsanto/Bayer

California Chamber of Commerce

Honeywell International

Pfizer

Con Edison

Wolverine Worldwide, Inc.

The Chemours Company

Covestro

Work highlights

  • Lead environmental counsel for Chemours on a range of regulatory, enforcement, and litigation matters relating to the discovery of chemicals in the Cape Fear River in North Carolina.
  • Serving as lead toxic tort litigation counsel to Honeywell in the defense of a consolidated class action and approximately 54 individual toxic tort suits in federal and state court arising out of the presence of PFOA in the groundwater and municipal water supply of Hoosick Falls, New York.
  • Acting as national counsel for the ongoing litigation involving the legacy Monsanto product Roundup. There are tens of thousands of cases pending around the country, mostly in consolidated proceedings in state court in California and Missouri and in a federal MDL pending in the Northern District of California.

King & Spalding LLP

Many leading chemical, healthcare and energy companies turn to King & Spalding LLP to represent them in high-stakes toxic tort matters, relating to, inter alia, water contamination and chemical exposure. With more than 60 fee-earners spread across the firm’s national network of offices who have a focus in the area, the firm has the critical mass and geographical diversity to handle a tremendous range and volume of cases, irrespective of location. Of these practitioners, many have significant trial experience, ensuring that the team has ‘a wealth of knowledge on how to deal with environmental litigation in challenging jurisdictions’. ‘Strategic, pragmatic and forward-thinking‘, Tracie Renfroe  is managing partner of the Houston office, although her experience in the area extends beyond the regional confines of the office, to include a national and international profile for defending environmental claims. Also based out of Houston, Robert Meadows’ broad trial practice has seen him handle some high-profile toxic tort work, including numerous matters for Chevron, relating to allegations of water contamination caused by the gasoline additive MTBE. The firm’s New York office also continues to gain market share and was galvanized by the recruitment of a four-partner mass tort group from Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP in February 2020. Kristen Fournier is one of the leading lights of that team and has significant experience acting as national co-ordinating counsel, as well as a first-chair trial lawyer for the likes of Johnson & Johnson. Matthew Blaschke  and Elizabeth Taber, from San Francisco and Houston respectively, are also highly regarded and are practice co-heads alongside Fournier. 

Testimonials

‘The firm has a wealth of knowledge on how to deal with environmental litigation in challenging jurisdictions.’

Based on my experience, the firm has a top-shelf environmental legal team that is one of the best in the country.’

They pro-actively apply their extensive experience to provide practical advice and representation in a manner that adds significant value to achieving our goals.’

Tracie Renfroe provides exceptional leadership to any matter she is responsible for. She is strategic, pragmatic and forward thinking.’

‘Tracie Renfroe’s experience and instincts are intangibles that help her see the big picture while understanding which details are important and need the most attention. She also is an effective communicator who understands her audience.’

Key clients

Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc.

Chevron U.S.A. Inc.

Chevron Corporation

BASF Corporation

Mine Safety Appliances

The Dow Chemical Company

International Paper Co.

Becton, Dickinson (BD Bard)

Forestar/DR Horton

The Renco Group, Inc.

Shell Oil Company

Chevron Phillips Chemical Company

Baker Hughes Company

Work highlights

  • National co-ordinating and trial counsel for Johnson & Johnson in connection with claims alleging the plaintiffs developed mesothelioma as a result of asbestos in talcum-based Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower body powder.
  • Represented Chevron U.S.A. in 40+ lawsuits brought by more than 30,000+ individually named persons who claimed personal injuries, lost wages, property damage, and punitive damages arising from an August 2012 fire at Chevron U.S.A.’s Richmond, California Refinery. Notably, the firm secured the dismissal of a number of the claimants’ causes of action, including under California’s Unfair Competition Law and for battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, intentional misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, insurance bad faith, and product liability, as well as the dismissal of over 10,000 individual plaintiffs who failed to answer written discovery.  
  • Representing Union Carbide Corporation in a series of putative class actions alleging exposure to air emissions of ethylene oxide.

Latham & Watkins LLP

Forming a part of the firm’s overarching product liability, mass tort and consumer class action group, which is led from Boston by Gwyn Williams and Kenneth Parsigian, Latham & Watkins LLP‘s toxic tort offering is praised for its ‘very good handle on complex legal and technical issues’, as well as its ability ‘think very strategically’. The ‘practical-minded’ team also a enjoys a synergistic relationship with the broader environmental offering, enabling it to draw from highly specific substantive expertise, as well as lawyers benefiting from significant regulatory knowledge, of great relevance to the toxic torts which regularly arise in the sector. A member of the environmental group, New York-based Kegan Brown is ‘extremely motivated, driven and highly intelligent’, and is particularly adept at managing toxic tort matters proceeding on multiple fronts. Mary Rose Alexander  in Chicago regularly defends clients in multi-plaintiff actions in federal and state courts involving alleged exposure to chemicals, lead, metals and solvents.

Testimonials

‘This team has a very good handle on complex legal and technical issues and thinks very strategically – they are always two step ahead of everyone else.’

‘The team is highly experienced and practical-minded.’

‘Enthusiastic about securing clients favorable results. It has a great mix of experience and youth – leading to a great exchange of ideas and constant work ethic. Great leadership with dozens of years of experience. The practical- minded nature of the group is unique.’

‘I have worked closely with both Gary Gengel and Kegan Brown on multiple environmental projects for over 10 years. Both individuals understand the complex technical issues associated with these projects – conversations with them feel like we are talking with other technical team members. They also communicate project status, tasks and schedule clearly and effectively, moreso than any other individuals/firm I have worked with.’

‘The firm demonstrated the ability to efficiently interface with the rest of a large team, help develop overall strategic approach, and helped integrate that approach across litigation and regulatory aspects of the matter. Latham’s ability to move quickly creates opportunities to reinforce and implement strategic direction.’

‘Kegan Brown stands out because he managed to run all aspects of Latham’s work product, strategy development and execution through him to ensure consistency and completeness. He is creative and able to see beyond the current issue to the opportunities and risks that current decisions may create.’

‘Kegan Brown is a rock star. Energetic, extremely motivated and driven and highly intelligent. Very organized and always thinking ten steps ahead to set up clients for success.’

Key clients

Dow Chemical

DTE Energy

Endo Pharmaceuticals

Fluor

General Dynamics

Huntington Ingalls San Diego Shipyard

LG Chem

Marathon Oil Corporation

Monsanto

Montrose Chemical

Office of the Attorney General of Guam

Owens Coming

Philip Morris International

Weyerhaeuser

Chevron

Work highlights

    Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP

    With expertise on both coasts, as well as from Houston, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP provides strong national coverage to a range of clients, including major energy and manufacturing entities, on their highest-profile toxic tort defense matters. The team, which is housed within the wider product liability, tort and insurance group, headed from Washington DC by Paul Zevnik , is quickly able to mobilize resources throughout the country, enabling it to effectively handle disputes proceeding on multiple fronts. The team handles a significant amount of asbestos-related toxic tort defense work, and has over the years tried more than half of the asbestos property damage cases ever taken to trial. Los Angeles-based deputy head Yardena Zwang-Weissman  excels in handling large-scale environmental toxic tort cases while Brady Edwards  in Houston is also recommended for his ability to provide co-ordinated national defense strategies for companies embroiled in asbestos and talc litigation.

    Key clients

    SoCalGas and Sempra Energy

    Covil Corporation

    NiSource Inc.

    PepsiCo, Inc./Pepsi-Cola Metropolitan Bottling Company, Inc.

    Southern Insulation

    Starr Davis Companies

    Work highlights

    • Co-ordinating and litigation counsel for SoCalGas and Sempra Energy in various matters arising from the 2015 natural gas leak at the Aliso Canyon storage facility.
    • Represented the Receiver of Covil Corporation in multiple insurance coverage cases; obtained a favorable ruling in January from a South Carolina state trial court holding that an asbestos claim against Covil was an “operations” claim unless insurers proved the asbestos exposure via Covil’s products occurred after they were released into the stream or commerce or via Covil’s completed work.
    • Represented ITT LLC, which entered into a settlement that provides for the reimbursement of $366.3m in future product liability suit settlement and defense costs and keeps $196.5m in additional insurance coverage available to ITT. The pact adds to a “buyout” settlement reached earlier in 2020 and a trial judgment that with other recoveries from insurers resulted in payments totaling approximately $100m.

    Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP

    Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP‘s leading reputation in the toxic tort market has been well earned as a result of many years’ experience defending clients in claims involving exposure, toxic poisoning, drugs and disasters. Consequently, the firm is at the cutting-edge of market trends, aided by a team of experienced trial lawyers has had a myriad successes in jury and bench trials. Many of the firm’s engagements are in the context of class actions and MDLs, where it regularly serves as national co-ordinating counsel in reputation threatening matters. As well as its traditional strength in asbestos-related matters, the firm was also national co-ordinating counsel to Marathon Oil with respect to various complex and high-profile claims related to climate change. Peter Bicks has a superb track record as trial counsel in major product liability/mass tort cases and alongside team head Elyse Echtman  recently secured a number of high-profile victories for Johnson & Johnson on Proposition 65-related litigation regarding alleged asbestos in its talc products. Leveraging her broader IP credentials, Lisa Simpson is excellent at explaining complex scientific matters to juries and is a key member of the team that also includes recently promoted Washington DC-based partner Anne Malik. All named practitioners are based in New York unless otherwise noted.

    Practice head(s):

    Elyse Echtman

     

    Key clients

    Johnson & Johnson

    National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)

    Marathon Oil

    Microsoft

    ANI Pharmaceuticals

    China National Building Material Company (CNBM)

    Union Carbide Corporation

    Renco

    Solvay

    Work highlights

    • Led Johnson & Johnson to victory in three significant litigation matters related to California’s Proposition 65.
    • Serves as one of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) national trial counsel in its student-athlete concussion litigation, co-ordinating and executing strategy, and successfully defending the NCAA in courts across the country.
    • Serving as national co-ordinating counsel for Marathon Oil with respect to various complex and high-profile claims related to climate change. Most recently, Marathon Oil won a merits victory at the US Supreme Court requiring that all of their grounds for removal be addressed on appeal.

    Baker Botts L.L.P.

    Combining strong national litigation strength with a standalone full-service environmental offering, Baker Botts L.L.P. is able to provide a “soup to nuts” service to energy and manufacturing companies in the defense of toxic exposure and environmental tort cases. The Houston office, in particular, has in recent years, gained a particularly strong reputation for its ability to handle large-scale crisis response work following major incidents –  including in the aftermath of chemical explosions, water and soil contamination. It can quickly mobilize resources and therefore manage reputational damage, liaise with regulators, litigate private class actions and pursue government investigations. Russell Lewis  and Kevin Jacobs  both have significant experience co-ordinating litigation, including MDLs, and exemplify this multi-faceted approach which frequently sees them fending off government actions. ‘Calm in a crisis’, Washington DC-based Kent Mayo  is particularly adept at representing clients in the aftermath of major disasters, including refinery explosions and chemical spills. Joshua Frank is also well-versed in handling chemical exposure cases and co-heads the team alongside Mayo and Houston-based elder statesman Tynan Buthod .

    Practice head(s):

    Tynan Buthod ; Joshua Frank; Kent Mayo

     

    Testimonials

    Kent Mayo is calm in a crisis.’

    Key clients

    Assertio Therapeutics

    BASF Corporation

    CenterPoint Energy

    Dixie Chemical Company

    ExxonMobil

    Intercontinental Terminals Company

    Orlando Utilities Commission

    Tenaris Global Services USA

    TPC Group

    Tennessee-American Water Company

    West Virginia-American Water Company

    Assertio Therapeutics

    BASF Corporation

    CenterPoint Energy

    Dixie Chemical Company

    ExxonMobil

    Intercontinental Terminals Company

    Orlando Utilities Commission

    Tenaris Global Services USA

    TPC Group

    Tennessee-American Water Company

    West Virginia-American Water Company

    Work highlights

      Dechert LLP

      Dechert LLP has strong market presence in the product liability and mass torts space from its East coast stronghold, as well as more recently from a burgeoning California-based offering – a corollary of which includes a significant amount of toxic tort work for consumer goods, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and manufacturing companies. The well-known practice c0-head, Sheila L. Birnbaum is well-versed in the relevant science, the substantive law and litigation strategies relating to a range of product liability/mass tort matters and has, throughout her career, achieved many notable victories at both a trial and appellate level. ‘Calm and knowledgeable‘ in her approach, Rachel Passaretti-Wu ‘gets results‘ for clients in toxic tort and product liability matters; she recently played key role for Saint-Gobain in toxic tort-related matters regarding its use of materials containing perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). Managing partner of the firm’s Los Angeles office, Kimberly Branscome has been pivotal to the firm’s growth on the West Coast. Mark S. Cheffo co-heads the team alongside Birnbaum. All named practitioners are based in New York, unless otherwise noted.

      Testimonials

      I work closely with Rachel Passaretti-Wu. I enjoy her working style. She is calm and knowledgeable. She gets great results.’

      Key clients

      Johnson & Johnson

      Saint-Gobain

      Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP

      Recognized as a ‘premier firm in highly complex, high-value litigation’, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP has, over the years, won many notable victories for defendants in critical environmental and toxic tort cases, both at trial and appellate level. As well as regularly achieving success in venues throughout the US, including in traditional plaintiff-friendly jurisdictions, the environmental and toxic tort team, which is led from Washington DC by Daniel Nelson and Stacie Fletcher, has also developed particular strength in handling trans-national cases. In addition, the firm has successfully cultivated expertise in cutting-edge matters relating to climate change, an area that ‘exceptional‘ New York-based trial lawyer Andrea Neuman  and seasoned California-based appellate lawyer Theodore Boutrous  have been particularly visible. 

      Practice head(s):

      Daniel Nelson; Stacie Fletcher

       

      Testimonials

      It is a premier firm in highly complex, high-value litigation’. 

      Andrea Neuman is exceptional’. 

      Work highlights

        Greenberg Traurig LLP

        Drawing upon a highly developed knowledge of underlying environmental regulations and laws throughout the country, allied with a strong litigation capability, Greenberg Traurig LLP‘s sprawling national practice is regularly involved in high-stakes cases, including those involving alleged soil, water, and air pollution. The team, which is led by seasoned trial lawyer David B. Weinstein from Tampa, is not only well-versed at litigating private suits, including class actions and MDLs, but also government enforcement actions, regulatory matters and cases with criminal exposure. Weinstein is currently representing an international aerospace company in two high-profile mass toxic tort actions, in which plaintiffs allege that emissions from a manufacturing facility contaminated nearby properties and injured persons near the facility.

        Practice head(s):

        David B Weinstein

         

        Key clients

        Lockheed Martin Corporation

        Union Pacific Railroad

        The Mosaic Company

        National Foam, Inc. and other related entities

        Empire State Development

        PSEG Long Island and the Long Island Power Authority

        Ovivo Water, LLC

        Orlando Utilities Commission

        Work highlights

        • Representation of Orlando Utilities Commission in Irizarry, et al. v. Orlando Utilities Commission, et al., a high-stakes toxic-tort class action in which Plaintiffs allege, among other things, that particulates from a coal-fired power plant “have contaminated properties with carcinogenic radionuclides” and caused children in the class area to develop fatal “paediatric brain and blood cancers.”
        • Represents 8701 Collins Development, LLC and related entities in what is expected to be a consolidated class-action arising from the Champlain Towers South (CTS) building collapse on June 24, 2021 in Surfside, Florida.
        • Representing Lockheed Martin Corporation in two high-profile mass toxic tort actions in which plaintiffs allege that emissions from a manufacturing facility contaminated nearby properties and injured persons near the facility.

        Jones Day

        Praised for its ‘great skill at writing briefs and its strategic approach‘, Jones Day has achieved many successes for clients across a range of toxic tort cases, succeeding at an early stage through aggressive pre-trial strategy, as well as being well equipped with an impressive roster of trial lawyers to try cases should it be necessary. While she is best-known for her track record trying product liability cases within the tobacco and pharmaceutical industries, Atlanta-based team head Stephanie Parker  has broader capability within the toxic tort space, including cases involving groundwater and air emissions. Clients also benefit from access to the firm’s first-rate appellate offering (including ten former Supreme Court clerks), who are often brought in at an early stage to help shape the litigation process.

        Practice head(s):

        Stephanie Parker

         

        Key clients

        Chevron USA, Inc.

        Daikin America/Daikin Industries

        Schaeffler Group USA

        Sherwin-Williams Company, The

        Steris Corporation

        Work highlights

          Kirkland & Ellis LLP

          Historically rooted in litigation and still maintaining a market-leading presence in bet-the-company cases across the spectrum of civil disputes, Kirkland & Ellis LLP is a popular choice for clients seeking a robust and trial-ready defence, including in major class actions. It regularly handles some sizeable mandates in the toxic tort space, where it receives plaudits for ‘its uniformly excellent service, both at a partner and associate level’. As well as his work within the pharmaceuticals space, Washington DC-based Mike Brock has also gained market recognition for his versatile trial practice that includes work on major environmental toxic tort mandates; former key roles included his work for BP in all matters relating to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill litigation.

          Testimonials

          ‘The firm provides a uniformly excellent service both at a partner and associate level.’

          Key clients

          Allergan Plc

          Amneal Pharmaceuticals

          GlaxoSmithKline

          Syngenta Corporation

          Torrent Pharmaceuticals Ltd., Torrent Private Limited and Torrent Pharma, Inc.

          Mayer Brown

          Drawing upon the expertise of trial and appellate litigators throughout the country, as well as being able to effectively 'leverage subject matter and scientific expertise', Mayer Brown is well-positioned to defend clients in toxic tort and product liability disputes at a state and federal level. Michael Olsen  is 'a terrific trial lawyer with great instincts'; he continues to represent Union Carbide in asbestos litigation and 3M in national cases brought by private individuals and government entities relating to damages caused by alleged chemical contamination. 'A master strategist who can help guide a client through challenging procedural and legal obstacles', Daniel Ring co-heads the team alongside Olsen. Both named practitioners are based in Chicago.

          Practice head(s):

          Michael Olsen ; Daniel Ring

           

          Other key lawyers:

          Henninger Bullock 

          Testimonials

          ‘The firm has a core group of experienced product liability lawyers who can leverage subject matter and scientific expertise in high-stakes product cases.’

          ‘Mike Olson is a terrific trial lawyer with great instincts.’

          ‘Dan Ring is a master strategist who can help guide a client through challenging procedural and legal obstacles.’

           

          Key clients

          3M

          Veolia S.A.

          Union Carbide

          Weyerhaeuser Company

          Whirlpool Corporation

          Nicor Gas Company

          The Dow Chemical Company

          National Association of Manufacturers

          American Petroleum Institute

          American Farm Bureau Federation

          Work highlights

          • Represents 3M in significant high-stakes litigation, which includes representing 3M Company in over 1,500 suits in 19 states filed by individuals, water suppliers, and units of government at the state and local level.  
          • Represents Veolia against unwarranted allegations of wrongdoing regarding the Flint, MI water crisis.
          • Represents The Big Ten Conference, Inc, the oldest Division 1 collegiate athletic conference in the United States, in several pending putative class actions seeking recovery on behalf of classes of former college football players for alleged concussion-related injuries.

          McDermott Will & Emery LLP

          Leveraging longstanding client relationships with high-profile companies, including ExxonMobil and Honeywell, who continue to instruct the firm across many of their most significant toxic tort and product liability mandates, McDermott Will & Emery LLP has strong nationwide reputation. It is appreciated for its trial-ready approach, as well as its deep subject matter knowledge – including as it relates to asbestos and glyphosate exposure, and groundwater contamination. Miami-based Anthony Upshaw , whose ‘excellent trial skills in the area’ are underscored by his selection by Monsanto/Bayer to try its PCB-related matters and its Roundup related trials, leads the team James Pardo  is based out of New York and has an excellent track record defending clients in private and government enforcement actions relating to allegations of hazardous waste, clean water and clean air laws.

          Practice head(s):

          Anthony Upshaw 

           

          Testimonials

          Anthony Upshaw has excellent trial skills in the area.’

          Key clients

          American Petroleum Association

          Motorola

          NCAA

          ExxonMobil

          DECRA Roofing Systems

          IKO Manufacturing

          Monsanto

          BDO

          James Hardie Building Products

          Work highlights

          • Lead counsel for ExxonMobil in a product liability case brought by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in connection with gasoline additive methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in damages.
          • Represents Motorola Mobility in more than 65 cases pending in D.C. Superior Court in which individual plaintiffs claim that wireless telephone use caused their brain tumors.
          • Represents Monsanto in relation to multiple venue products liability mass tort actions related to the manufacture, sale and distribution of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB).

          Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP

          Product liability forms the backbone of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP‘s national litigation offering which continues to grow and was further enhanced by the arrival of a 22-partner team in January 2022 from Bowman and Brooke LLP, adding depth and even further geographical range including offices in several new locations. The team now has further strength in handling asbestos and talc-related mandates, as well as environmental toxic tort matters caused by chemical release and spill incidents. Michael Brown   in Baltimore is one of many first chair trial lawyers in the space and continues to represent Johnson & Johnson as lead trial counsel for the healthcare giant in its talc cases. Based out of South Carolina, Mark Jones  and David Dukes  co-head the team alongside Brown, with Dukes handling a significant amount of pharmaceuticals-related work as part of his broad product liability practice.

          Key clients

          Johnson & Johnson

          Honeywell

          American Optical

          Arvin Meritor

          Work highlights

          • Lead trial team for Johnson & Johnson in talc cases.
          • Ongoing representation of Honeywell on asbestos matters, including trials across the country.
          • National trial counsel to American Optical on product liability matters involving underground mine respirators.

          Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP

          Combining litigation, regulatory and counselling expertise, Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP‘s Kansas City-based team provides a one-stop-shop service to chemicals, petroleum, utilities, and pharmaceuticals clients across the gamut of their environmental needs. Truly national in scope, the team has deep knowledge across the panoply of federal and state environmental regulations, and is as effective on behalf of clients from a risk management perspective, as it is litigating individual, group and class action toxic tort disputes. The team is also well-versed in advising on Superfund-related matters, including in the context of cost recovery and contribution claims under CERCLA. Mark Anstoetter  and David Erickson co-head the team and both have vast experience across the spectrum of environmental litigation (including toxic tort), with expertise defending clients against private litigation, as well as government enforcement actions and citizen group lawsuits.

          Practice head(s):

          Mark Anstoetter ; David Erickson

           

          Key clients

          The Chemours Company

          SPG (Passaic River Court Litigation) and SPLG (CERCLA Cost Recovery Litigation)

          Huhtamaki Inc.

          Mallinckrodt, Inc.

          Zoetis Inc.

          The Doe Run Company

          Work highlights

            Steptoe & Johnson LLP

            Combining trial experience with deep regulatory and subject matter knowledge, the ‘well-organized‘ team at Steptoe & Johnson LLP provides ‘extremely high-quality legal services’ across the gamut of toxic tort claims, from environmental contamination to consumer products claims alleging injurious exposure to chemicals. The scope of the client base is also broad and includes well-known names within the chemicals, agricultural and  energy sectors, which are appreciative of the firm’s ability to advise on reputational damage, not only through effective litigation strategies but also strategic board level advice. Robert Shuftan  in Chicago, has vast experience representing manufacturers and chemical companies both at board level and in litigation, and co-heads the team alongside Seth Goldberg  in Washington DC. Jason Levin , who is managing partner of the firm’s Los Angeles office, is also a key practitioner by dint of his trial skills and effectiveness at defending clients in claims under various state and federal laws, including Proposition 65, CERCLA and the Clean Water Act. 

            Practice head(s):

            Robert Shuftan ; Seth Goldberg

            Testimonials

            Partners and associates work efficiently as a well organized team and provide extremely high-quality legal services.’

            Key clients

            Koppers Inc.

            Lonza (formerly Arch Chemicals)

            Koppers Performance Chemicals (formerly Osmose, Inc.)

            Beazer East, Inc. (formerly Koppers Company, Inc.)

            GROWMARK

            Honeywell International, Inc.

            Chevron U.S.A. Inc.

            Work highlights

            • Acted for Koppers Inc. and Beazer East, Inc. in a series of lawsuits in Minnesota federal district court brought by eleven cities in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Metro region. Plaintiffs claim that they have incurred and will continue to incur significant costs to address contamination of their municipal storm water ponds.
            • Represents a wood preservative manufacturer in claims related to the Portland Harbor Superfund site.
            • Continuing to act as lead counsel in multiple portfolios of agricultural product exposure cases for clients including Chevron and GROWMARK.

            Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP

            Appreciated by clients for its ‘great service and availability’, Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP‘s ‘hardworking‘ team excels at handling high-stakes toxic tort disputes for energy, utilities, retail and pharmaceutical companies, in federal and state courts throughout the country. With a large group of lawyers with first-chair trial experience in the product liability and broader commercial litigation fields, the firm has great experience as trial and national co-ordinating counsel in big-ticket disputes, including as it relates to talcum powder litigation, water contamination and disputes related to plastics pollution. The team also regularly handles toxic tort disputes in a bankruptcy context, where it is able to draw upon expertise within the firm’s market-leading insolvency offering. New Jersey-based product liability and mass tort litigator par-excellence Diane Sullivan  co-heads the team alongside the ‘excellent’ David Singh  out of Silicon Valley. New York-based Theodore Tsekerides  is also a key figure, including in bankruptcy-related matters and is recognized as a ‘great communicator’. 

            Practice head(s):

            Diane Sullivan; David Singh

             

            Testimonials

            ‘A solid, hardworking team with a commitment to diversity.’

            ‘Great service and availability, coupled with high-quality work.’

            ‘David Singh is an excellent lawyer, devoted to his practice and advancing the legal profession at large.’

            ‘Ted Tsekerides is a great communicator.’

            Key clients

            Johnson & Johnson

            ExxonMobil

            PepsiCo Inc.

            Giant Eagle

            PG&E

            Starbucks

            Sanofi

            Exide Holdings

            Greenstone Assurance Ltd.

            Work highlights

            • Won Second Circuit victory affirming the complete dismissal of a high-profile class action in New York federal court alleging that a leading global coffee and retail company’s Manhattan stores have for many years been permeated with a toxic pesticide.
            • Representing Repsol, S.A. in a series of complex environmental and business litigations involving allegedly more than a billion dollars in liabilities in connection with the pollution of the Passaic River, one of the EPA’s largest Superfund projects in history.
            • 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.

            Winston & Strawn LLP

            Winston & Strawn LLP handles a significant amount of toxic tort mandates under the umbrella of the broader product liability and mass tort group, which is led by Sandra Edwards  from San Francisco. George Lombardi is a trial lawyer of considerable repute; as well as his well-documented tobacco-related product liability victories, is, alongside Edwards, leading the charge for Monsanto, as trial counsel, on Roundup-related product liability matters. The firm’s appellate expertise is also well rated in challenging decisions.  Based out of Washington DC, the ‘tenacious and creative’ Andrew Tauber  adds particular value to product liability/toxic matters as his ‘appellate advocacy is first-rate’.

            Practice head(s):

            Sandra Edwards

            Testimonials

            Andrew Tauber is tenacious, creative and probably the most knowledgeable expert on the law of federal pre-emption in private practice, if not in the entire legal profession. I have seen him develop pre-emption arguments that no other lawyer had previously raised and prevail on them. As a consequence, he is a critical member of any product liability team.’

            Andrew Tauber is a highly sophisticated, experienced appellate lawyer with outstanding writing skills. His appellate advocacy is first-rate and his client service is timely and responsive.

             

             

            Key clients

            Monsanto Company (now Bayer AG)

            Schlumberger Technology Corporation

             

            Work highlights

            • Continuing to represent Monsanto Company as trial counsel for the Roundup® product liability matters, including the first US jury trial (Johnson), 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 $211m.
            • Representing Schlumberger Technology Company and affiliates in a mass tort groundwater contamination lawsuit at a Superfund site in Midland, Texas.
            • Representing Schlumberger Technology Corporation in connection with litigation in which plaintiffs allege fly ash contamination on their property located in Creek County, Oklahoma.

            Bartlit Beck LLP

            Bartlit Beck LLP has a strong track record defending clients from a range of industries in toxic tort actions brought by both private individuals and government entities in state and federal courts throughout the US. The scope of this work has included cases involving lead, asbestos, fossil fuels, fungicides, herbicides, and PFAS, alleging contamination of air, soil, water, and residential dwelling interiors. Recognized as a 'very strong trial firm', it is this unwavering focus on and preparation for a trial which is beneficial to the client if it does reach that stage, as well as ensuring strong leverage in the event of pre-trial settlement. Brian Prestes is particularly skilled at handling MDLs and mass litigations and heads the team alongside Jason Peltz . All named practioners are based in Chicago. 

            Other key lawyers:

            Jason Peltz ; Brian Prestes

            Testimonials

            It is a very strong trial firm.

            Work highlights

              Bowman and Brooke LLP

              Bringing top-tier strategic thinking to mass tort management’, litigation boutique Bowman and Brooke LLP regularly takes on lead and national counsel roles in toxic tort matters relating to chemical exposure, soil and water contamination and asbestos. Clients, that include leading household cleaning and sanitizing product manufacturers, transportation and heavy equipment entities, also appreciate the firm's flexibility on fees. As part of his product liability trial practice, Phoenix-based William Auther  has a strong grounding in toxic tort matters, and continues to act as national toxic tort counsel for a leading global air conditioning and refrigeration company. Minneapolis-based trial lawyer Roshan Rajkumar is also a key member of the team and is regularly engaged to act as national co-ordinating or lead trial counsel for major manufacturers defending asbestos and other toxic tort litigation. Larry Ramsey co-heads the team alongside Auther from Los Angeles.

              Practice head(s):

              Larry Ramsey; William Auther

               

              Testimonials

              ‘The firm brings bring top-tier strategic thinking to mass tort management.’

              Key clients

              W.M. Barr & Company, Inc.

              Daikin Applied Americas Inc.

              Ford Motor Company

              Nissan North America Inc.

              Hitachi Construction Truck Manufacturing (Euclid Hitachi)

              Mack Trucks, Inc.

              Toyota Motor North America, Inc.

              Daimler Trucks North America LLC

              Navistar International

              Wayne Combustion Systems, a Scott-Fetzer Company

              ViacomCBS

              Tuthill Corporation

              Caterpillar Inc.

              Resolute Management, Inc. (RMI)

              International Paper Company

              Payne & Keller Company, Inc

              DCo (Dana Companies, LLC)

              Work highlights

              • National premises asbestos counsel to Ford Motor Company in personal injury or wrongful death matters where plaintiffs allege injuries due to exposure to asbestos at a Ford facility.
              • Serves as national toxic tort counsel for the largest air conditioning, heating, ventilating and refrigeration company in the world.
              • Serves as national no-ordinating and trial counsel to Hitachi Construction Truck Manufacturing, defending asbestos and toxic tort cases filed nationwide, with responsibility for overall strategy and trial defense.

              DLA Piper LLP (US)

              Knowledgeable across a range of toxic-related matters, including chemical exposure, and strengthened by the recent recruitment of a number of accomplished trial lawyers, DLA Piper LLP (US) is increasingly well-positioned to guide defendants throughout the life cycle of litigation. Washington DC-based Buffy Mims co-heads the toxic tort sub-group, following her arrival from Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP in January 2021; she has particular expertise handling state and federal MDL proceedings. The ‘responsive and diligent‘ team is also appreciated for its ‘willingness to innovate‘ on billing and its conversance with hot-button issues including climate change and PFAS matters. On the West Coast, numerous practitioners have toxic tort/environmental litigation expertise, including San Francisco-based George Gigounas who handles national work as well as California’s Proposition 65 law matters.

              Other key lawyers:

              Buffy Mims; George Gigounas; John Phillips; Adam Baas; Jayme Long; Greg Sperla; Alexander Giraldo

              Testimonials

              ‘This is truly a full-service shop. Stemming from one litigation, they have been able to answer questions on commercial, government affairs, investor relations, communications etc.’

              ‘They are all willing to innovate on AFA and billing practices. Because of this, the client feels that its interests are fully aligned with those of the law firm.’

              ‘Very easy to work with; responsive and diligent.’

               

              Key clients

              BASF

              Porsche AG

              Exxon-Mobil

              Helena-Agri Enterprises

              Sanofi

              Wells Lamont

              Sanofi

              Danone US, LLC

              Work highlights

              • Represents BASF in federal multidistrict litigation in the District of South Carolina involving allegations that Aqueous Film Forming Foam, a foam used to suppress large gasoline fires, contains per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), including perfluorooctanoate sulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), and which plaintiffs allege are hazardous to human health.
              • Secured a significant victory for Porsche. In the underlying case, Plaintiff sued Porsche AG (among others) in California Superior Court (San Francisco) for personal injuries allegedly sustained from exposure to asbestos.
              • Represented ExxonMobil as defendant in a contract-based tort matter involving the Iranian Government and several Western Oil companies in the California Second District Court of Appeal, Division 7. The court affirmed summary judgment in favor of ExxonMobil, dismissing the civil lawsuit brought by an Iranian refinery worker who developed an occupational disease as a result of alleged exposure to products at the Abadan Refinery in Iran.

              Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP

              Adept at handling private litigation (including class actions/MDLs and individual actions), as well as matters proceeding on multiple fronts (including regulatory and government enforcement actions), the ‘knowledgeable and experienced’ team at Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP provides ‘efficient and effective’ representation of clients in toxic tort cases involving product liability, occupational injuries and public nuisance. Asbestos litigation is a strength, as is involvement in novel areas, including Covid-19 litigation, where the team, led by ‘top-notch‘ Richmond-based litigator Alexandra Cunningham, recently secured dismissal of federal law suit brought against its client, Smithfield Foods, against allegations that it subjected its employees to unsafe working conditions in the immediate outbreak of the pandemic. Houston-based Georgia Lucier co-heads the team alongside Cunningham and is a key contact, as is Richmond-based associate Merideth Daly, who exhibits ‘thoughtful, effective, and strategic approach to litigation and case strategy’. 

              Testimonials

              ‘The team is knowledgeable and experienced, with excellent judgement when it comes to case strategy. They are highly responsive and client-focused, with an excellent network of expert consultants and witnesses when needed.’

              ‘For a large firm, they are extremely efficient and effective. I would trust this team with any toxic tort matter nationwide, including high-profile, high-value, bet-the-company litigation.’

              ‘Ali Cunningham is an experienced, strategic thinker, responsive and client-focused. She is a top-notch litigator and trial lawyer, and provides clear, concise, and practical advice. My go-to-partner for toxic tort defense.’

              Meredith Daly is efficient, hardworking, and responsive. Thoughtful, effective, and strategic approach to litigation and case strategy. Outstanding communicator. I would trust Merideth in a lead role on any litigation matter.’

              Key clients

              Smithfield Foods, Inc.

              Alfa Laval Inc.

              Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII)

              Samsung Electronics America, Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.

              Balfour Beatty and related companies, including AMC West

              Atotech USA, LLC

               

               

              Work highlights

              • Successfully defended and won the dismissal of a high-profile federal lawsuit for Smithfield Foods involving allegations of unsafe Covid-19 working conditions.
              • Represent several defendants, including product manufacturers, power companies and large industrial companies, as national coordinating counsel, regional counsel and trial counsel in asbestos, benzene and silica personal injury and wrongful death claims around the country.
              • Serving as regional counsel for a major oil company in toxic tort, chemical exposure, and personal injury litigation.

              Husch Blackwell LLP

              Husch Blackwell LLP  has a strong reputation for representing clients in the defence of a range of toxic tort matters, and has gained plaudits for its effective use of legal technology to streamline often resource intensive matters. The firm has had a more regional bent to its practice (particularly from its Missouri stronghold), however, the arrival in April 2021 of a 21-lawyer mass tort and litigation practice from Dentons substantially enhances the firm’s capabilities in the area and provides increasing geographical bandwidth on the West Coast. Based out of the firm’s Oakland office, Lisa Oberg is one of the new arrivals who adds increased firepower to the firm’s already strong asbestos litigation work. Joseph Orlet is a stalwart of the practice; based out of the firm’s St Louis office, he is a popular choice among clients for toxic tort and product liability matters.

              Other key lawyers:

              J.Y Miller ; Lisa Oberg

              Key clients

              International Paint, LLC; Akzo Nobel Coatings, Inc.; and Akzo Nobel Coatings, Ltd.

              Olin Corporation

              Bayer

              Marley-Wylain Company

              Work highlights

                McGuireWoods LLP

                Undertaking work from new clients, as well as continuing to handle a significant pipeline of matters for longstanding ones – including DuPont, which the firm continues to defend in lead paint litigation – McGuireWoods LLP has significant market visibility in class action and MDL proceedings across a range of products liability and toxic tort matters. Joy Fuhr  in Richmond has a strong track record at trial and appellate level, and has had many victories over the years, securing the dismissal of public nuisance actions relating to lead paint. Diane Flannery , who has broad experience in class action and MDL matters, chairs the products, environmental and mass tort litigation department from the Richmond office.

                Practice head(s):

                Diane Flannery

                 

                Key clients

                Ford Motor Company

                Lumber Liquidators, Inc.

                STIHL Incorporated

                Columbia Gas of Massachusetts

                United Technologies Corporation

                Olympus Corp.

                E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company

                Aquion

                Universal Corp. and Universal Leaf Tobacco Company

                Work highlights

                • Secured a major victory for client E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, which reversed a headline-grabbing $6m jury verdict against the company and two other paint manufacturers on allegations that they sold lead-based paint that caused brain damage to three men as youths.
                • Acted for Aquion and won denial of class certification in a lawsuit that threatened the client’s business model, its strategic relationship with The Home Depot — and put the entire high-end water treatment industry at risk. The win effectively eliminates the flood of class actions expected across the country raising similar claims.
                • Successfully represented Universal Corp. as lead trial counsel and co-ordinating counsel in Hupan, et al. v. Alliance One International, Inc., and five related suits in the Supreme Court of New Castle County, Delaware. This litigation was filed by more than 406 plaintiffs, including 153 children born in Argentina with birth defects, such as spina bifida and other serious medical problems.

                Morrison Foerster

                Morrison Foerster has all-encompassing expertise advising clients on toxic tort-related matters regarding hazardous materials, waste disposal and chemical release. This manifests itself not only in the ability to secure favorable settlements, early dismissals and trial verdicts but also in relation to risk management. The firm’s well-resourced West coast offices have an excellent track record defending clients in Proposition 65 litigation, with San Francisco-based William Tarantino particularly noted for his ‘deep knowledge‘ of the regulations. Erin Bosman  and David Fioccola  co-head the class actions and mass torts offering from San Diego and New York, respectively.  

                Practice head(s):

                Erin Bosman ; David Fioccola

                 

                Testimonials

                William Tarantino has deep knowledge of California’s environmental regulations/laws.’

                Key clients

                Suja Green Juice

                Clearwater Seafoods

                Mexilink, Inc.

                Etsy, Inc.

                Clorox Company

                Work highlights

                • Defending Suja in a class action lawsuit, accusing the defendants (Suja Life and Whole Foods) of knowingly and actively concealing the material fact that the Suja Juices contain the chemical element lead at levels above the safety threshold set by the State of California in Proposition 65.
                • Defending Clearwater Seafoods, the largest producer of shellfish in North America in a Proposition 65 enforcement action brought by the California Attorney General claiming that certain clams, mussels, and shellfish contain excessive levels of heavy metal.
                • Acting for Mexilink, resolved Proposition 65 investigations and civil enforcement matters for this leading importer and distributor of top consumer packaged goods brands for the Spanish-speaking market.

                Nixon Peabody LLP

                Drawing upon a deep bench of seasoned trial lawyers located across both coasts and the Midwest, Nixon Peabody LLP is well-equipped to represent clients from a range of industries on complex product liability and toxic tort matters in federal and state courts throughout the country. The team is also able to leverage this trial-ready approach to secure success in resolving cases before they go to trial. As part of his broad trial practice, New York-based Joseph Ortego  is regularly at the forefront of the firm’s most significant toxic tort-related matters, including in relation to pesticide exposure cases in Los Angeles and defending a Fortune 500 company in a product liability MDL regarding Aqueous Film-Forming Foam (AFFF). Ortego co-heads the team alongside Buffalo-based partner Vivian Quinn, who takes on regional and national cases.

                Practice head(s):

                Joseph Ortego ; Vivian Quinn

                 

                Key clients

                PestSure

                Brookhaven National Laboratories

                CSX Transportation (Railroad)

                Work highlights

                • Serve as national counsel for pest control companies in chemical and health effects litigation.
                • Represent Brookhaven National Laboratories in a contamination class action, where hundreds of plaintiffs were seeking property and personal injury damages related to alleged migration of various chemicals and other toxic material from the Lab. Successful in defeating class certification and narrowing the claims to property damage only.
                • Advising a subsidiary of a Fortune 500 company in responding to a subpoena and developing a defense to claims of negligence, strict liability, and nuisance regarding a product liability MDL action pending in South Carolina concerning Aqueous Film-Forming Foam.

                Norton Rose Fulbright

                Led from the firm’s Houston office by Brett Young , Norton Rose Fulbright has a particularly strong reputation advising energy companies (including oil entities) in relation to environmental incidents. As well as his trial expertise, Young is also skilled at responding to catastrophic events and providing crisis response counselling for clients. The firm’s international network is also of great value to clients in relation to trans-national mandates. On the West Coast, Los Angeles-based Kevin Mayer is a key member of the team, both in relation to Proposition 65 matters, as well as on water-borne pathogen litigation.

                Practice head(s):

                Brett Young

                Other key lawyers:

                Kevin Mayer

                Work highlights

                  Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP

                  The well-known litigation powerhouse Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP has a strong record of success for clients subject to high-stakes product liability and toxic tort disputes, including as it relates to the talcum powder litigation. Based out of San Francisco, Morgan Tovey continues to represent a Fortune 500 consumer products company subject to talc-related asbestos claims throughout the country; significant victories have included numerous summary judgments, often achieved through successful Daubert challenges. JD Horton and Michael Lyle  co-head the team (alongside Tovey) from Los Angeles and Washington DC, respectively. Both have considerable trial expertise in the space, with Lyle, in particular, noted for his past work defending companies embroiled in the largest disasters of recent times including the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

                  Practice head(s):

                  Morgan Tovey; Michael Lyle; JD Horton

                   

                  Other key lawyers:

                  Kirk Goza

                  Key clients

                  LG Chem, Ltd., LG Chem Power, Inc., and LG Chem Michigan, Inc.

                  Seacor Holdings Inc., O’Brien’s Response Management L.L.C, National Response Corporation

                  Colgate-Palmolive Inc.

                  Work highlights

                    Reed Smith LLP

                    Co-headed by Melissa Geist and Robert Roth from Princeton and Chicago, respectively, Reed Smith LLP‘s product liability group houses a substantial team of lawyers with experience defending clients in toxic tort disputes. A number of these are energy clients and in this regard Houston-based partner Stan Perry is ‘very well-known’. In addition to toxic tort work based on chemical exposures, releases and contamination, the firm is also accomplished at handling talc-based litigation. 

                    Practice head(s):

                    Melissa Geist; Robert Roth

                    Other key lawyers:

                    Stan Perry

                    Work highlights

                      Tucker Ellis LLP

                      Leveraging the expertise of litigators throughout its national network of offices, Tucker Ellis LLP represents an eclectic portfolio of companies, at both trial and appellate levels, in cases involving exposures to substances such as coal mine dust, talc, vinyl chloride, lead and heavy metals, PFAS, and mold. Cleveland-based team head Laura Kingsley Hong handles a range of toxic tort and product liability matters and has developed a particularly strong reputation defending clients in asbestos-related personal injury matters.

                      Practice head(s):

                      Laura Kingsley Hong

                       

                      Key clients

                      AB Electrolux

                      Carrier Corporation

                      Otis Elevator Company

                      Rockwell Automation, Inc.

                      United Technologies Corporation

                      Edward Orton Jr. Ceramic Foundation

                      Pfizer Inc.

                      Work highlights