Firms To Watch: Transport: rail and road - litigation and regulation

The US rail team of international law firm Greenberg Traurig, LLP has acted for freight-hauling railroad, Union Pacific (UP), in major regulatory proceedings (throughout UP's 23-state service territory) for over 25 years.
Kirkland & Ellis LLP's track record includes the representation of General Motors (GM) in a putative class action, as well as 3,000 consolidated individual claims, which allege that GM and its suppliers conspired to install defeat device software in hundreds of thousands of trucks equipped with Duramax Diesel engines.

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

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP‘s Washington DC-based team encompasses a wide variety of practice areas, including litigation, appellate matters involving punitive damages, environmental law, franchising, and antitrust. The offering benefits from the firm’s ability to leverage expertise in false advertising, class actions, labor and employment law, international trade and antidumping. Also of note, the firm has longstanding experience in efforts to conform punitive damage awards and procedures to constitutional requirements. In the railroad space, co-partner-in-charge of the Washington DC office, Thomas Dupree Jr, recently led Indiana Rail Road Company, the Association of American Railroads, and the American Short Line and Regional Rail Association, to a major victory – a federal court was persuaded to strike down as unconstitutional a newly enacted Illinois statute, which imposed a minimum crew size for freight trains traveling in or through Illinois. Environmental regulatory and litigation specialist Raymond Ludwiszewski spent eight years in senior legal positions in the US Government.

Practice head(s):

Thomas Dupree Jr

Other key lawyers:

Raymond Ludwiszewski

Key clients

Association of American Railroads

BNSF Railway Company

Purple Line Transit Partners

CSX Transportation

Union Pacific

American Short Line  and Regional Rail Association

Fiat Chrysler

Daimler AG

Mercedes-Benz USA

Coalition for Sustainable Automotive Regulation

Automotive Regulatory Council

Association of Global Automakers

Uber

Nissan Motor Acceptance Corporation

Yamaha Motor Corp

Hogan Lovells US LLP

Hogan Lovells US LLP represents both traditional automotive companies and emerging mobility industry players. It routinely works with leading participants and disrupters across the industry supply chain; and leverages its global team for cross-border work. In Washington DC, the track record of transportation regulatory practice head Latane Montague includes high-stakes transport industry-related safety and emissions crises; and rail practice leader Kevin Sheys is ‘thoroughly versed in railroad environmental law‘. Also integral to the DC office are transport and logistics sector leader, Joanne Rotondi; automotive industry co-head William Yavinsky; and Michael Kidney, who has longstanding experience in defending automotive industry-targeted lawsuits. In New York, John Sullivan acts in franchise litigation and related disputes, while senior counsel Carl Chiappa is a widely respected motor vehicle franchise law expert. In Denver, counsel Emily Kimball has served as outside counsel for the Railway Supply Institute since 2012. Notable growth in DC includes the early 2021 promotion to partner of Ryan Ford, who handles litigation for motor vehicle manufacturers; and the January 2022 elevation to counsel of transportation industry-focused environmental and safety regulation expert, Kathryn Lannon.

Testimonials

The team is heavily engaged in our industry. The depth of its knowledge of the nuances of the rail industry give a level of strategic thinking that gives us an edge in situations involving regulatory bodies.

The skill level of the team I engaged with was beyond expectations.

The industry contacts that this firm has give greater insight into potential solutions that the regulatory bodies are more willing to accept. This mitigates our risk well beyond expectation.

Our railroads use H-L for guidance on railroad environmental laws on a federal and state basis, particularly in relation to new terminal construction projects. They have often gone the extra mile to solve intricate problems.

Intimate knowledge of the regulatory statutes and agency processes, with a collaborative approach to working together.

‘Excellent thought leadership on future industry, technology and legal trends.

A good balance of hard work, intelligence, expertise, humility and humor.

Kevin Sheys is thoroughly versed in railroad environmental law, very responsive and easily reachable.

Key clients

Daimler

Ford Motor Company

Nissan Americas

Nissan Motor Co

Nissan Europe

TRATON SE

Hyundai Motor America

Genesis Motor America

National Association of Manufacturers

Kia Motors America

Daimler Trucks North America

Alliance for Automotive Innovation

ZF Friedrichshafen

Commonwealth of Virginia

Railway Supply Institute

Dallas Area Rapid Transit

Sonoma–Marin Area Rail Transit

Denver Regional Transportation District

Virginia Passenger Rail Authority

Work highlights

  • Represented Ford Motor Company in its appeal to the Supreme Court on the critical issue of personal jurisdiction.
  • Advising DART, which operates commuter rail and other transportation services, on the development and construction of the Silver Line light rail transit project; its current role includes assisting with the evaluation of competing freight railroad and utility uses.
  • Represented LG Energy Solution in its longstanding trade secret dispute with SK Innovation over electric vehicle batteries.

McGuireWoods LLP

McGuireWoods LLP represents a broad range of transportation industry players, including passenger rail companies, Class II railroads, short line railroads, and equipment financing companies. The team is able to draw upon expertise in energy, natural resources development, land use, real estate, litigation and M&A. It notably stands out in the market for the firm’s government relations subsidiary, McGuireWoods Consulting, which enhances its overall practice through public policy insight. Former managing partner of the firm’s Jacksonville office, Eric Bilik, is a complex business and financial litigation specialist, while Christopher Thanner is a commercial real estate law expert. All-round litigator Bryan Brantley leads the firm’s transportation industry group from the Pittsburg office, and Davis Walsh in Richmond regularly represents public and private automotive sector companies. At associate level, Natalie Zagari focuses on product and consumer litigation, primarily serving as national coordinating counsel for a major transportation company. All attorneys listed are based in Jacksonville unless mentioned otherwise. Former partner Matthew Monsour departed the firm in January 2022, while former counsel Patrick Dover exited in 2021.

Practice head(s):

Bryan BrantleyEric Bilik

Dykema Gossett PLLC

Dykema Gossett PLLC‘s strong track record includes defending thousands of automotive product liability, wrongful death, defect, property damage and recall claims. Laura Baucus is director of the automotive industry group, which includes Detroit-based litigation department director Michael Cooney. In Los Angeles, previous group head Dommond Lonnie has longstanding experience in representing automobile and mobility manufacturers; while Derek Whitefield serves as trial, support and discovery counsel to automotive manufacturers in airbag cases. Elsewhere, Dallas-based Deron Wade routinely represents major automobile manufacturers; Detroit’s Lisa Brown assists with automotive-related commercial disputes; and Michael Carey in Minneapolis co-leads the electric and autonomous vehicles and advanced mobility practice. Also highly regarded is automotive product liability specialist Brian Smith, while Nina Gavrilovic  is a key litigation associate. In January 2022, John Black was promoted to partnership, while Fred Fresard departed in 2021. All attorneys listed are based in Bloomfield Hills, save where otherwise stated.

Practice head(s):

Laura Baucus

Key clients

Kia America

ZF TRW Automotive Holdings Corp

Ford Motor Company

General Motors

Harley-Davidson

Work highlights

  • Represented Kia Motors in proceedings against a claim seeking $103.5m in damages, alleging the plaintiff’s diffuse axonal traumatic brain injury was caused by a defect in the restraint systems of her vehicle after she was involved in a significant side impact crash that caused the vehicle to rollover.
  • Represented ZF TRW Automotive Holdings Corp in proceedings against an antitrust class action brought by two separate classes, which alleged that ZF TRW and other competitors conspired to unlawfully fix, artificially raise, maintain and/or stabilize prices for hydraulic braking systems.
  • Represented Harley-Davidson in the US Court of Appeals, the opinion resolving an unsettled Class Action Fairness Act question in the Ninth Circuit.

Holland & Knight LLP

In August 2021, Holland & Knight LLP merged with Thompson & Knight LLP, the combination bringing on board Dallas-based partner Charles Shewmake, whose experience  includes 26 years in-house at BNSF Railway Corp. The rail practice, which is ‘very accessible and responsive to time-sensitive issues‘, routinely acts for Class I, II and III railroads in rail transportation contracts and railroad line sales. It also assists with railroad transaction agreements, real estate issues and regulatory concerns. William Byrne offers extensive experience in rail, road, intermodal and ocean transportation; Lawrence Hamilton II is a highly regarded transportation and class action trial attorney; while the ‘knowledgeable, smart and client-focusedJameson Rice provides regulatory guidance on transportation regulations. In Los Angeles, Linda Auerbach Allderdice is also a transportation specialist. The attorneys mentioned are based in the firm’s Jacksonville office unless otherwise stated.

Practice head(s):

William Byrne; Jameson Rice

Testimonials

This group is very accessible and responsive to time-sensitive issues.

Thinks creatively to find solutions for our company.

We sought out Jameson Rice because of his reputation in the transportation industry. He was knowledgeable, smart and client focused.

Charles Shewmake’s industry experience and contacts make him a key part of our group of outside advisors- always very accessible, solutions oriented and fair with billing.

Key clients

XPO Global Forwarding

CSX Transportation

Landstar System

Florida East Coast Railway

Inxeption

Lyft

Trained Eye

Quality Distribution

Boasso Global

Work highlights

  • Representing CSX Transportation in the sale of assets to the Commonwealth of Virginia to expand passenger and commuter rail to Washington DC.
  • Representing XPO Global Forwarding in litigation relating to services rendered with partial payments, and counter-claims as to a customs fine imposed for logistics undertakings.
  • Assisting Inxeption with all US and international multi-modal and customs matters.

King & Spalding LLP

In addition to King & Spalding LLP‘s regulatory, enforcement and policy expertise, its automotive and transportation practice houses specialists in complex litigation and government investigations. In recent years, the group has been highly involved in the headline diesel-related issues surrounding the automotive industry. In Washington DC environmental law expert Granta Nakayama co-leads the team and is regularly sought out by automakers facing high-profile diesel-related issues and litigation. Co-head John Hooper in New York is a complex litigation specialist; Chicago-based Livia Kiser is a vehicle component expert; and Susan Vargas in Los Angeles litigates high-exposure cases. Atlanta's Susan Clare predominantly represents automotive manufacturers and transportation companies. In 2021, Jackie Glassman left the firm, while former counsel Christie Iannetta also departed.

Practice head(s):

Granta NakayamaJohn Hooper

Key clients

American Honda Motor Co

Automobili Lamborghini America

Daimler

Mercedes-Benz USA

Daimler Trucks North America

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles group companies

General Motors

Kia Motors America

Porsche

Porsche Cars North America

Subaru of America

Subaru Corp

Toyota Motor Sales

Toyota Motor Company

Volkswagen

Work highlights

  • Represented BASF in securing an effective $84.9m jury award in the District of Delaware, the matter concerning an antitrust dispute over automotive emission control technology.
  • Represented Volkswagen in widely publicized matters before the Environmental Protection Agency, California Air Resources Board, and the US Department of Justice, which relate to emissions from 2.0-liter and 3.0-liter diesel engine-powered vehicles.
  • Representing Toyota in multiple product liability and class action cases pending in various courts nationwide.

Thompson Hine LLP

Thompson Hine LLP‘s Washington DC-based practice has extensive experience in regulatory debates concerning the transportation of hazardous materials by rail, including safety and liability issues and common carrier obligations. The team also acts in rail rate cases, including matters for the chemical and plastics industries, while electric utilities seek out the team for coal transportation issues. It additionally advises on the full gamut of motor carrier work, including regulatory rulemaking proceedings and federal preemption-related litigation. Karyn Booth is a regulatory and commercial freight rail specialist, and Sandra L. Brown advises on the transportation by rail of coal, chemicals, crude oil and other hazardous materials. Former senior US Department of Transportation official Tim Goodman ‘has vast industry knowledge‘, while counsel David Benz is a freight railroad regulation expert.

Practice head(s):

Karyn Booth

Testimonials

The team’s ability to understand the issues at hand rapidly, based on industry and legal experience, has been instrumental in the risk analyses we take at the company.

The TH team gives practical advice, without overly complicated legalese, that can be quickly actioned.

What I enjoy most about the Thompson Hine team is that they make you feel like a partner, not just a client. They introduce you to potential partners, bring potential opportunities for efficiencies to light, and give you the feeling that they really are part of your team.

Tim Goodman has vast industry knowledge; and, having worked both for NHTSA and in private practice, he has an edge over the competition. Tim is responsive, practical and direct with his replies and advice.

Tim Goodman is an outstanding communicator, who doesn’t talk in vague terms or give nebulous answers. You get straightforward answers to questions, and he utilizes his experience and past relationships to streamline answers to projects.

Sandra Brown and counsel David Benz are both extremely knowledgeable in the area of transportation, specifically railroad law. They are in tune with the policies of the Federal Railroad Administration and the Surface Transportation Board, and are able to advise my railroad company on almost any matter.

Sandra Brown and David Benz are business minded, and able to assist with long- term business strategy, while ensuring certain legal hurdles are either avoided or anticipated and prepared for.

I have always been very impressed with the responsiveness of both Sandra Brown and David Benz. They make me feel that my company is highly valued, because they are quick to return calls, answer emails, produce summaries and white papers, and provide timelines for their work.

Key clients

Alaska-Alberta Railway Development Corporation

Ameren Corporation

American Chemistry Council

American Forest & Paper Association

Corn Refiners Association

Costco Wholesale Corporation

Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries

LFS Freight Solutions

Mowi USA

Myers Industries

National Association of Chemical Distributors

Nexterus

NiSource

Port of Moses Lake

Southern Company

Suez Water Technologies

The Dow Chemical Company

The Fertilizer Institute

The National Industrial Transportation League

Toyota Tsusho America

Work highlights

  • Representing Southern Company, Ameren Corporation and NiSource in fuel surcharge-related antitrust litigation against four large railroads.
  • Assisted CA -AB 5 Coalition Members with filing an amicus curiae brief at the US Supreme Court in support of the trucking industry’s Petition for Certiorari, which sought review of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling that California’s AB-5 law (as applied to motor carriers) is not pre-empted.

ArentFox Schiff

Arent Fox LLP‘s client base comprises some of the US’ largest retail dealership groups, auto-tech leaders, global auto parts suppliers, and equipment and aftermarket suppliers. Its expertise covers litigation, including complex class actions and government investigations, and franchise and distribution cases. The team also acts before all the relevant government agencies, as well as various state motor vehicle boards and agencies. The experience of Los Angeles-based automotive practice head Aaron Jacoby encompasses driverless cars, online car sales, and transformative dealership transactions. In New York, Russell McRory assists auto dealerships with issues involving relations with factories and franchising.

Practice head(s):

Aaron Jacoby

Key clients

McKenna Auto Group

Alfredo’s Foreign Cars

Napleton Automotive Group

Work highlights

  • Representing Norm Reeves Honda group of dealerships in an advertising matter that came before the FTC.
  • Advising industry newcomers on a regular basis, including tech startups and online retailers, on the legal and regulatory hurdles surrounding their market penetration strategies.
  • Represented Alfredo’s Foreign Cars against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) in a state administrative proceeding, proving that FCA’s segment-adjusted regional market share metric was unfair and unreasonable to dealers.

Dentons

Dentons‘ ‘solid‘ transportation team is regularly mandated to advise on matters involving freight railroads, rail passenger carriers and trucking. The department also fields autonomous vehicle specialists. Washington DC-based David Hirsh leads the US transportation and rail practice as well as the firm's global transportation team, and is an expert in transportation-related regulatory and business issues, his experience including representing freight rail carriers in litigation with passenger carriers.

Practice head(s):

David Hirsh

Other key lawyers:

Gregory Walden

Testimonials

Not everyone understands the basics of the transportation industry, particularly in relation to railroads. The agreements Dentons have collaborated on with our company are industry standards and required reading for our counterpart companies.

Excellent international scope and reach, with strong client relation management in the US.

Dentons works well as a team across time zones, allowing work to be performed at lower costs and more efficiently.

We particularly liked the firm’s railroad expertise – not something you would expect in a large firm.

Small but solid team.

David Hirsh has great rail and transportation experience.

David Hirsh’s industry knowledge and ability to produce a winning strategy make his opinion sought after during our joint industry meetings and conferences.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP

Representing automakers, suppliers, technology developers and financial institutions, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP automotives-focused team handles disputes surrounding product development, technology and IP, as well as litigation over marketing, distribution, warranty and product liability. Boston-based co-head Daniel Savrin’s work for automotive companies predominantly focuses on antitrust, consumer protection, and dealer relations and distribution matters. In Los Angeles, David Schrader represents automotive and mobility sector clients in critical matters; and co-head Lisa Weddle‘s automotive experience includes the recent defeat of the certification of a nationwide class of seven million-plus vehicle owners, who alleged defective heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.

Practice head(s):

Daniel Savrin; Lisa Weddle

Key clients

BMW Manufacturing Co

BMW AG

Uber Technologies

High Performance Industries

Ferrari

Scuderia Ferrari

Toyota Motor North America

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

Amtrak

Work highlights

  • Representing BMW in California warranty claims.
  • Representing Toyota Motor North America in all facets of its benefit programs, including retirement, health and executive compensation issues.
  • Representing Ferrari SpA and Ferrari NV in a patent infringement action.

Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP

Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP has a strong reputation for its representation of car companies in dealership litigation. On the regulatory side, the practice fields experts in dealer relations, franchise matters and distribution-related work. In Columbia, Steven McKelvey has longstanding experience in representing automotive companies, while Keith Hutto acts in business litigation. In 2021, Washington DC-based Christie Iannetta, who focuses on automotive industry-related regulatory and compliance issues, joined as partner from King & Spalding LLP, where she was counsel.

Work highlights

    Steptoe & Johnson LLP

    Steptoe & Johnson LLP‘s Washington DC-based rail team has great experience in rail litigation and regulatory activity. The practice routinely represents rail carriers in complex commercial disputes, mergers and acquisitions, and preemption matters before the Surface Transportation Board. The group is also sought out for its advice on related safety and environmental issues. Chair of the firm’s transportation practice Linda Stein is a specialist in railroad-related regulatory proceedings, civil litigation and arbitration, while Anthony LaRocca represents railroad clients in economic regulations and preemption work. Also key to the department is railroad industry expert Peter Denton.

    Practice head(s):

    Linda Stein

    Key clients

    BNSF Railway

    CSX Transportation

    Work highlights

    • Advising CSX Corporation, a large Class I railroad, on obtaining regulatory approval at the Surface Transportation Board for its acquisition of New England’s Pan Am Railways.
    • Advising BNSF Railway Company, a large Class I railroad, on its participation in the regulatory approval proceeding at the Surface Transportation Board for the proposed merger between Canadian Pacific Railway Company and The Kansas City Southern Railway Company.
    • Advised funds managed by a major private equity house on the acquisition of Dow’s rail infrastructure assets and related equipment by Watco Companies.

    Winston & Strawn LLP

    Winston & Strawn LLP‘s ‘business-oriented‘ practice has longstanding experience in transactions and litigation involving transport infrastructure, including heavy and light rail. It also has notable expertise in representing trucking and logistics companies. Praised as 'Among the best railroad appellate lawyers in private practice‘, Andrew Tauber joined the Washington DC office in 2021 from Mayer Brown, with experience covering Federal Railroad Safety Act and Locomotive Inspection Act-related litigation; and in the automotive sector, representing an automobile manufacturer facing consumer claims involving emissions standards. Chicago-based transactions specialist Nick Golem is also experienced in working with transportation industry clients.

    Other key lawyers:

    Andrew TauberNick Golem

    Testimonials

    Winston & Strawn brings a wealth of experience, expertise, and legal IQ to the table.

    Their litigators are true trial lawyers, who do not shy away from a fight, but who also recognize business and significant legal risks, and tailor their advice accordingly.

    They pair smart, hard-working associates with seasoned, accomplished partners to create winning teams.

    Willing to work collaboratively with other outside counsel when asked to fashion creative, best-in-class advice and solutions.

    Commercially and business oriented – they go above and beyond in providing leverage to the deal team.

    I have always admired Andy Tauber’s tenaciousness, creativity, legal knowledge, and advocacy skills (both written and oral).

    Andrew Tauber and I have worked together on dozens of railroad cases over the years.  He is a master of multiple aspects of railroad law, particularly preemption under the FRSA and ICCTA.

    Andrew Tauber is certainly among the best railroad appellate lawyers in private practice.

    Key clients

    Patriot Rail Company

    FreightCar America

    Soo Line Railroad Company

    CSX Transportation

    Paceline Equity Partners

    RELAM

    Hub Group

    Echo Global Logistics

    Revelstoke Capital Partners

    Transport Holdings

    Hertz Global Holdings

    Pasha Automotive Services

    Work highlights

    • Representing CSX Transportation in an important appeal before the Ohio Supreme Court, which challenges an Ohio statute that prohibits trains from blocking grade crossings for more than five minutes.
    • Represented Patriot Rail in both its acquisition of shortline rail operator Salt Lake Garfield & Western Railway and the sale of Patriot Ports.
    • Representing Echo Global Logistics, a provider of technology-enabled transportation and supply chain management services, in its $1.3bn sale to The Jordan Company.