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King & Spalding LLP

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Chilton Varner

Work +1 404 572 4600
King & Spalding LLP


Chilton Varner, a senior partner in King & Spalding's product liability practice, has 30 years of courtroom experience as a trial lawyer defending corporations in product liability, business torts, contract and other commercial disputes. She has served as trial and appellate counsel for a number of the country’s largest automotive, pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers. She is experienced in mass tort litigation, class actions and MDL litigation, including the complex issues of discovery, attorney-client privilege and Daubert challenges to expert testimony that accompany such suits.


Ms. Varner was appointed by Chief Justice Rehnquist in 2004 and re-appointed by Chief Justice Roberts in 2007 to the Federal Civil Rules Advisory Committee, where she has participated in the Committee’s drafting of amendments governing electronic discovery and changes to the Rules governing summary judgment and expert discovery.


In 1995, Ms. Varner was elected to the American College of Trial Lawyers, a recognition requiring scrutiny by independent state-wide and national groups of her record as a courtroom lawyer. She chaired the College’s Committee on Attorney-Client Relationships from 2002-2005, served on the Board of Regents of the College (representing Georgia, Alabama and Florida), from 2005-2009, was elected Secretary of the College in 2009, and Treasurer in 2010. She currently serves as President-Elect of the College and will become President in October 2012.


J.D., with distinction, Emory University A.B., with distinction, Smith College.

United States: Dispute resolution

Product liability, mass tort and class actions: automotive/transport - defense

Within: Product liability, mass tort and class actions: automotive/transport - defense

King & Spalding LLP's automotive and transportation litigation team is jointly led by Philip Holladay and Susan Clare, and recently welcomed Livia Kiser and Michael Shortnacy in Chicago and Los Angeles, respectively, both of whom joined from Sidley Austin LLP in July 2018. With particular strength in class actions and product liability litigation, the group defends leading OEMs against manufacturing defects, design defects and failure to warn claims. In recent highlights, Stephen Devereaux represented Daimler and Mercedes Benz in a putative class action alleging a design defect in the HVAC systems of various models of Mercedes-Benz vehicles, and senior counsel Chilton Varner is defending Suzuki as appellate counsel against design defect, negligent recall, failure to warn, and loss of consortium claims arising from a crash involving the plaintiff’s motorcycle. John Hooper in New York continues to act for Toyota in the settlement of the unintended acceleration class action. Unless otherwise noted, all named partners are based in Atlanta.

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Product liability, mass tort and class actions: pharmaceuticals and medical devices - defense

Within: Leading lawyers

Chilton Varner - King & Spalding LLP

Within: Product liability, mass tort and class actions: pharmaceuticals and medical devices - defense

The pharmaceutical and medical device litigation team at King & Spalding LLP was strengthened by the October 2018 hire of Austin-based Melvin Bailey from Crowe Arnold & Majors LLP. In recent highlights, practice head Bruce Hurley and Tracie Renfroe in Houston defended Johnson & Johnson and DePuy Orthopedics as co-lead trial counsel in personal injury claims, including an MDL relating to a metal-on-metal hip implant. Andrew Bayman in Atlanta continues to represent GlaxoSmithKline as national counsel in litigation related to the anti-depressant medication Paxil, which involves allegations that the use of the drug increases the risk of suicidal behavior in adult patients. In addition, Los Angeles-based Alexander Calfo is acting as coordinating and trial counsel in California for Johnson & Johnson Consumer in the talc powder litigation, having recently defended the client against a plaintiff claiming she developed mesothelioma as a result of exposure to the alleged asbestos-contaminated talcum powder products. Other clients include Halyard Health, Eli Lilly and Allergan. Senior counsel Chilton Varner in Atlanta is also recommended.

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