Transport: rail and road - litigation and regulation in United States

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP's impressive client base includes global auto manufacturers, large rental car companies, automobile trade associations and companies involved in the manufacture of transportation industry-related materials. The firm's significant Washington DC-based rail and road transportation industry practice covers litigation, appellate matters, environmental matters, antitrust, false advertising, and consumer and other class actions. It also stands out for its leading role in the effort to conform punitive damage awards and procedures to constitutional requirements. Co-partner-in-charge of the Washington DC office, Thomas Dupree Jr is an experienced trial and appellate advocate, who has argued over 80 appeals in the federal courts; he recently acted for the entire railroad industry (through the Association of American Railroads) in Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees v. Federal Railroad Administration, which cleared the way for railroads to implement new automated track-inspection technologies. Providing notable support is experienced partner Raymond Ludwiszewski, who specializes in environmental matters.

Other key lawyers:

Thomas Dupree Jr; Raymond Ludwiszewski

Hogan Lovells US LLP

Providing regulatory advice that shapes the future of mobility, Hogan Lovells US LLP's team works with leading participants and disrupters across nearly all levels of the automotive industry supply chain. It also advises on the market's most significant and high-value rail industry matters. Transportation regulatory practice leader Latane Montague  consistently acts in high-stakes safety and emissions crises; rail practice leader Kevin Sheys  is lead regulatory and railroad counsel on the Commonwealth of Virginia’s planned $5.5bn acquisition of the Washington DC and Richmond (VA) rail line; and Michael Kidney   has over two decades' experience in defending automotive industry-targeted lawsuits. Also highly regarded are Joanne Rotondi , the industry sector head for transport and logistics; and automotive industry sector co-head, William Yavinsky . In New York, Carl Chiappa is a highly rated motor vehicle franchise law expert, while John Sullivan  focuses on franchise litigation and related disputes. Counsel Emily Kimball in Denver and senior associate Kathryn Lannon are key contacts below partner level. In January 2021, automotive litigation specialist Ryan Ford was made partner. Named individuals are based in Washington DC unless otherwise stated.

Practice head(s):

Latane Montague; Kevin Sheys; Joanne Rotondi; William Yavinsky

Other key lawyers:

Michael Kidney; Carl Chiappa; John Sullivan; Emily Kimball; Kathryn Lannon; Ryan Ford; Hannah Graae


Our business is very unique and requires a lot of flexible thinking and boundary pushing, especially with regulatory bodies. The team we work with at HL acts as a true partner and always looks out for the best interests of our business, both in a present and future sense; we never get the impression that they are trying to sell us on something that we don’t really need and they are always open to being a sounding board.’

The breadth and depth of its expertise makes the firm stand out above other firms. The firm also has deep relationships within government and the regulator.

Key clients

Daimler Trucks North America

Railway Supply Institute

Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit

Denver Regional Transportation District

Alliance for Automotive Innovation

Ford Motor Company

Nissan Group: Nissan Americas

Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.

Nissan Europe

Hyundai Motor Company

Mercedes Benz

Kia Motors America, Inc.

Work highlights

  • Secured the dismissal of all claims asserted against Ford in a putative nationwide consumer fraud and warranty class action, which establishes a precedent for dismissing putative class actions before the commencement of discovery.
  • Provides ongoing advice regarding emissions and fuel economy-related topics, including recent developments at the state and federal level with regard to mobile source greenhouse gas regulations and the Corporate Average Fuel Economy program.
  • Served as outside railroad counsel to the Commonwealth of Virginia on its landmark $5bn corridor acquisition and shared use transaction with CSX Transportation, a Class 1 North American freight railroad.

McGuireWoods LLP

Highly active in litigation filings, McGuireWoods LLP is widely respected for its representation of railroads, auto manufacturers and trucking companies. Clients also benefit from the firm's government relations subsidiary, McGuireWoods Consulting, which enhances its core practice. The rail sector department is chaired by Eric Bilik, whose experience includes the representation of a national rail transportation company in numerous lawsuits by adjoining landowners and residents; and real estate specialist Christopher Thanner, who successfully represented railroads in disputes with state agencies and local governments concerning the extent of vested railroad rights. In Pittsburg, Bryan Brantley chairs the transportation industry team, and Matthew Monsour oversees substantial litigation across the US. Also key to the practice is Charlottesville-based motor carrier litigation specialist Brian Jackson, who acts as co-director of the transportation industry team. Significant counsel-level support is provided by railroad-related litigation expert, Patrick Dover, who is particularly focused on appellate work. All attorneys listed are based in Jacksonville unless stated otherwise.

Practice head(s):

Bryan Brantley; Eric Bilik

Other key lawyers:

Matthew Monsour; Christopher Thanner; Brian Jackson; Patrick Dover

Dykema Gossett PLLC

Consistently taking bet-the-company lawsuits to verdict, Dykema Gossett PLLC is active equally for automotive original equipment manufacturers and automotive industry suppliers. In Los Angeles, experienced trial attorney Dommond Lonnie leads the automotive industry group; while Derek Whitefield recently represented American Honda Motor Co in airbag technology-related litigation. Also highly rated are Michael Carey in Minneapolis, who co-leads the mobility and advanced transportation practice; and Detroit-based litigation department director Michael Cooney, who is highly regarded for automotive crashworthiness litigation. In Bloomfield Hills, James Feeney's experience includes high-stakes, automotive industry-related trials; Fred Fresard is recommended for high-exposure cases; and Brian Smith is experienced in automotive product liability cases involving catastrophic injury and death. Detroit-based Boyd White III was elected member in January 2020, and John Black is an experienced associate in Bloomfield Hills.

Practice head(s):

Dommond Lonnie 

Other key lawyers:

Derek Whitefield; Michael Carey; Michael Cooney; James Feeney; Fred Fresard; Brian Smith; Boyd White III; John Black; Krista Lenart

Key clients

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA)

American Honda Motor Co., Inc.,

KIA Motors America

Metaldyne, LLC

Ford Motor Company



Work highlights

  • Served as lead trial counsel in a 17-day jury trial for a defendant automobile manufacturer, which was sued for damages involving a single car accident.
  • Obtained summary judgment in an airbag non-deployment case, where the plaintiff claimed to have sustained a permanent brain injury and injury to eyesight; the case asked whether the California consumer expectation test could be applied.
  • Served as trial counsel for a defendant automobile manufacturer (FCA US, LLC), in a claim that a shifter defect caused vehicle rollaway and fatal injuries.

King & Spalding LLP

Beyond traditional car and truck companies, King & Spalding LLP represents new entrants and technology developers throughout the autonomous vehicle space. The practice is equally adept in single plaintiff catastrophic injury cases (on behalf of companies), as well as in multi-district litigation and class actions. It is co-led by regulatory specialist Jackie Glassman and environmental law expert Granta Nakayama from the firm's Washington DC office. Glassman is particularly focused on safety responsibilities and fuel efficiency initiatives; and Nakayama's experience includes representing automakers facing tort and liability litigation. In New York, John Hooper is highly regarded for mass tort litigation, while Atlanta-based Susan Clare's experience includes acting as part of the team representing General Motors in high-exposure litigation. Since publication, Christie Iannetta left the firm.

Practice head(s):

Jackie Glassman; Granta Nakayama

Other key lawyers:

John Hooper; Susan Clare; Ilana Saltzbart

Key clients

American Honda Motor Co., Inc.


Daimler AG

Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA)

Daimler Trucks North America

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) group companies

General Motors LLC

Global Automakers

Kia Motors America, Inc.

Peloton Technologies

Porsche AG

Porsche Cars North America, Inc.

Subaru of America, Inc.

Subaru Corp.

Suzuki Motor Corporation

American Suzuki Motor Corporation

Toyota Motor Sales

Toyota Motor Company

Volkswagen AG

Work highlights

  • Represented Volkswagen AG (VW) in the Environmental Protection Agency and Air Resources Board’s portions of VW’s $15bn settlement, which involved the sale of approximately 450,000 engine vehicles.
  • Achieved a victory in the Georgia Supreme Court on behalf of Suzuki Motor Corporation and Suzuki Motor of America, which involved a groundbreaking decision impacting product manufacturers sued in Georgia.
  • Acting as lead counsel for General Motors LLC (GM) in various high-profile, high-exposure litigation matters throughout the country, and also serving as GM’s strategic, co-ordinating and trial counsel for consumer litigation in California.

Arent Fox LLP

Arent Fox LLP's Los Angeles-based team is 'dedicated to the immediate needs and requirements of its clients'. It acts for auto dealers, manufacturers, and suppliers in complex class actions and government investigations, as well as franchise and distribution cases. On the regulatory side, it acts before all the relevant government agencies and various state motor vehicle boards and agencies. Leader of the firm’s automotive practice, Aaron Jacoby 'delivers outstanding performances when dealing with multiple projects'; he distinguishes himself in automotive law through work in areas such as driverless cars, online car sales, and transformative dealership transactions.

Practice head(s):

Aaron Jacoby

Other key lawyers:

Russell McRory; David Meyer; Michael McMahan; George Koumbis; Franjo Dolenac


This team is dedicated to the immediate needs and requirements of its clients.

Aaron Jacoby delivers outstanding performances when dealing with multiple projects.

Key clients

Tech startups and online retailers

Braman Motors et al.

McKenna Auto Group

National Automobile Dealers Association

Alfredo’s Foreign Cars

Wide World Maserati

Work highlights

  • Defending the retail automotive industry before the US Federal Trade Commission, which seeks a greater enforcement role in an area typically led by state (as opposed to federal) regulators.
  • Regularly advises online car retailers on the legal and regulatory implications of their efforts to expand market share through online car sales.
  • Sued BMW of North America (on behalf of two BMW dealerships owned by billionaire car dealer Norman Braman) in relation to business model and incentive program changes.

Baker & Hostetler LLP

The broad practice of Baker & Hostetler LLP's Houston-based David Jarrett (who serves as the firm's distribution and franchise industry team leader) includes advising new motor vehicle and tire manufacturers on compliance with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; and advising commercial motor vehicle carriers on compliance with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act. Also in Houston, Billy Donley maintains an active litigation and appellate practice, while Keith Russell advises manufacturers and distributors on their relationships with dealer distribution networks. Columbus-based Elizabeth McNellie represents manufacturers and distributors that are subject to motor vehicle franchise statutes.

Other key lawyers:

David Jarrett; Billy Donley; Keith Russell; Elizabeth McNellie


Dentons' transportation lawyers work primarily in matters involving freight railroads, rail passenger carriers, and trucking, with the practice complemented by the firm's expertise in autonomous vehicles. Washington DC-based David Hirsh heads the US transportation and rail practice; Hirsh was recently part of a team representing Illinois Central Railroad Company (IC) and Grand Trunk Western Railroad Company (GTW) in a proceeding initiated by Amtrak before the Surface Transportation Board (STB), which requested the establishment of reasonable terms and compensation for Amtrak’s operation of six passenger train services over IC and GTW lines.

Practice head(s):

David Hirsh

Other key lawyers:

Gregory Walden; Matthew Ludwig

Key clients

Canadian National Railway Company

Bessemer and Lake Erie Railroad Company

Illinois Central Railroad Company

Grand Trunk Western Railroad Company

Work highlights

  • Represents Illinois Central Railroad Company (IC) and Grand Trunk Western Railroad Company (GTW) in a proceeding initiated by Amtrak before the Surface Transportation Board, which requested the establishment of reasonable terms and compensation for Amtrak’s operation of six passenger train services over IC and GTW lines.
  • Represented Canadian National Railway Company in a rulemaking conducted by the Federal Railroad Administration to promulgate metrics and standards for the performance of Amtrak trains, as provided by the 2008 Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act.
  • Representing Canadian National Railway Company in transactional and US regulatory issues, which relate to Bessemer and Lake Erie Railroad Company’s purchase of CSX Transportation’s Massena Lines.

Holland & Knight LLP

Holland & Knight LLP's Jacksonville-based rail practice is valued by clients for its ability to provide the 'support of a big law firm with the prices of a much smaller firm'. It consistently represents Class I, II and III railroads across a spectrum of matters. William Byrne is experienced in road, rail, intermodal and ocean transportation; Lawrence Hamilton II is an experienced transportation and class action trial lawyer; and Los Angeles-based Linda Auerbach Allderdice defends motor carriers and related companies in lawsuits. Tampa's Jameson Rice was promoted to partner in January 2020.

Practice head(s):

William Byrne; Lawrence Hamilton II

Other key lawyers:

Linda Auerbach Allderdice; Jameson Rice


They have the support of a big law firm with the prices of a much smaller firm.

Jameson Rice is a new partner, who has a nice demeanor, works well with our business team and knows his stuff.

Key clients

Coalition for Northeast Corridor

Quality Distribution, Inc. (and its affiliates and subsidiaries)

Lyft, Inc.

XPO Global Forwarding, Inc.

Work highlights

  • Represents Class I and Class II railroads in high-value litigation and arbitration matters, and provides regulatory advice concerning the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Surface Transportation Board.
  • Represents a nationwide motor carrier on a wide variety of matters, including pre-litigation and litigation involving its contracts, restrictive covenants, and non-compete agreements, among others.
  • Provides advice regarding the developing US regulatory environment for autonomous vehicles.

Mayer Brown

A member of Mayer Brown's Supreme Court and appellate and class action practices, Washington DC-based Evan Tager has handled dozens of cases involving claims against railroads, including litigation arising out of workplace injuries, grade crossing accidents, derailments, and injuries to trespassers. In administrative and regulatory matters, senior counsel Adrian Steel (also in DC) represents corporations before federal and state administrative agencies in rulemaking and adjudicatory proceedings, including acting for major Class I rail carriers in proceedings before the STB.

Other key lawyers:

Evan Tager; Adrian Steel

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP's broad practice works across the automotive ecosystem, acting equally for traditional automakers, suppliers, technology developers and financial institutions. Boston-based Daniel Savrin has represented leading automotive companies in high-stakes civil and class action litigation and government investigations for the past 30 years. In the firm's Los Angeles office, David Schrader's experience includes acting for a global auto manufacturer in class actions, including matters involving alleged defects; and Lisa Weddle is noted for her representation of automotive manufacturers and distributors.

Practice head(s):

Daniel Savrin; Lisa Weddle

Other key lawyers:

David Schrader; Jackson Stoddard; Noah Kaufman

Key clients

Bayerische Motoren Werke Aktiengesellschaft (BMW AG)

BMW Manufacturing Co., LLC

BMW of North America, LLC

Uber Technologies, Inc.

High Performance Industries, Inc.


Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

Work highlights

  • Currently handling a significant portion of BMW’s California warranty claims using, among other elements, specialized technology and an innovative staffing model.
  • Represented BMW AG in a civil adversary proceeding brought by Emerald Capital Advisors Corp, the bankruptcy trustee to the former Fisker Automotive company.
  • Represents Amtrak in all facets of its benefit programs, including retirement, health and executive compensation.

Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP

Fielding a sizeable automotive practice, Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP 'provides outstanding quality at a very good price'. It stands out for its representation of major car companies in dealership litigation all over the US; and on the regulatory side, the practice specializes in dealer relations, franchise and distribution matters. The practice is jointly led by 'top-notch', Columbia-based automotive lawyer Steven McKelvey, who 'knows the business better than almost anyone', and Keith Hutto. McKelvey represents automobile manufacturers and distributors in litigation, while senior partner Hutto is a dealership termination specialist. Other experienced litigators are Richard Otera in Los Angeles, Denver-based Mark Clouatre and Andy Bertron in Tallahassee. Since publication, Christie Iannetta joined the firm's Washington, DC office.

Practice head(s):

Steven McKelvey; Keith Hutto

Other key lawyers:

Richard Otera; Mark Clouatre; Andy Bertron; Christie Iannetta


‘The team provides outstanding quality at a very good price.

Top-notch Steven McKelvey knows the business better than almost anyone.

Key clients


Fiat Chrysler

General Motors




CSX Transportation, Inc.





Steptoe & Johnson LLP

Steptoe & Johnson LLP's Washington DC-based railroad practice has core strength in the representation of rail carriers in complex commercial disputes, M&A and preemption matters before the STB. It also regularly advises clients on rail-related safety and environmental issues. Transportation chair Linda Stein focuses on regulatory proceedings, complex civil litigation and arbitration involving the railroad industry; Anthony LaRocca advises railroad clients on complex economic regulations and preemption matters; and Peter Denton is also an experienced adviser to major railroad industry clients.

Practice head(s):

Linda Stein

Other key lawyers:

Tony LaRocca; Peter Denton

Key clients

BNSF Railway

All Aboard Florida, LLC (now known as Brightline)

Brookfield Asset Management Inc.


Association of American Railroads

CSX Transportation, Inc.

Oaktree Capital Management

Sierra Railroad Co.

City of Temple, Texas

Work highlights

  • Advised Brookfield and GIC on rail regulatory issues that related to their acquisition of Genesee & Wyoming Inc., a public short line railroad holding company.
  • Served as counsel to funds managed by Oaktree (an investor in Watco) on the acquisition of Dow, Inc.’s rail infrastructure assets and related equipment by Watco Companies, a Kansas-based transportation company.
  • Advises BNSF on the implementation of its right to access shippers in Lake Charles, Louisiana, which involves a rail line jointly owned by the Union Pacific Railroad Company and the Kansas City Southern Railway Company.

Thompson Hine LLP

Thompson Hine LLP is rated by clients for its 'comprehensive, multi-disciplinary approach, balancing expertise with practicality'. Key features of the rail and shippers practice include its involvement in major regulatory debates and its experience in rail rate cases; it also represents electric utilities in coal transportation issues. Additionally, the team regularly assists with motor carrier and automotive matters. Karyn Booth, who advises on regulatory and commercial freight rail matters, heads the transportation practice from Washington DC, where Tim Goodman is also recommended for his 'high-level National Highway Traffic Safety Administration experience'.

Practice head(s):

Karyn Booth

Other key lawyers:

Tim Goodman; Sandra Brown; Jeff Moreno; Nicholas DiMichael; David Benz; Jason Tutrone


Comprehensive, multi-disciplinary approach, balancing expertise with practicality.

Tim Goodman has deep, high-level National Highway Traffic Safety Administration experience.’

Key clients

Agro Merchants Group

Ameren Corporation

American Chemistry Council

American Forest & Paper Association


Corn Refiners Association

Costco Wholesale Corporation

Hasbro, Inc.

Health and Personal Care Logistics Conference

Mowi USA

National Shippers Strategic Transportation Council

NiSource Inc.

Southern Company

The Dow Chemical Company

The Fertilizer Institute

The National Industrial Transportation League

Toyota Tsusho America

Work highlights

  • Advised a global original equipment manufacturer on pre-production and design issues for a new vehicle product, which avoided potentially costly safety and quality issues (among others).
  • Represented multiple trade associations and individual companies (including The Fertilizer Institute and The Dow Chemical Company) in multiple STB proceedings, which focused on creating more effective and accessible regulatory remedies for unreasonable rail rates.
  • Represented Southern Company, Ameren Corporation and NiSource in a large antitrust litigation against four large railroads (in relation to fuel surcharges).