Eyes on the Big Picture
Patton Boggs deals with product liability defense in multiple forms and venues
Patton Boggs' product liability and mass tort group prepares complex, multifaceted scientific and medical defenses in single and multiplaintiff actions in state and federal court on behalf of individual clients and groups of defendants.
The lawyers in the New Jersey office have expertise in defending complex cases that customarily involve claims for substantial damages, and often threaten the commercial viability of an entire product line or product design.
Often, these representations require coordination of hundreds of individual cases in courts around the country, as well as the defense of class-action claims. The firm has been retained to handle sensitive matters before the Consumer Products Safety Commission and other state and federal authorities. It also provides counseling on product development, labeling and warnings.
Practitioners have established an extensive network of experts in a broad range of disciplines and are experienced with various types of products, including automobiles, all-terrain vehicles, paint sprayers, adhesives, chemicals, orthopedic devices, stents, children's products, smoke detectors, silica, cement dust and other respirable dusts and substances, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxin, playground equipment, electric power supply equipment, telecommunications equipment and related software, diet drugs, synthetic estrogen and nutritional supplements.
In addition to litigation counseling, Patton Boggs advises on industrial crisis management, regulatory compliance, waste management and hazardous substance contamination and product-liability risk assessment.
A unique and distinguishing characteristic of the product-liability and mass-tort practice is its close working relationship with the firm's public-policy, government-affairs, and lobbying practice. The firm provides clients with comprehensive representation before courts, regulatory agencies, Congress, and state attorneys general, in view of the relationship between private product-liability actions and governmental action.
Attorneys in the New Jersey office also handle complex commercial litigation, food and drug, governmental and internal corporate investigations and white-collar criminal defense.
Due to the sensitive business concerns surrounding documentary and deposition discovery of corporate defendants, the firm's lawyers take a consistent approach to discovery across many related cases, using state-of-the-art data- and document-management systems, and addressing the significant public-access and media issues surrounding the production of confidential and commercially sensitive information.
The firm also has extensive experience in managing large-scale electronic and hard copy document productions in mass-tort litigation.
|Patton Boggs by the Numbers|
|Department as percentage of firm (head-count)||33%||75%|
|Department as percentage of firm (revenue)||98%||51%|
James Tyrrell Jr. (partner, Newark, admitted 1974) came to Patton Boggs to head New York-area offices in 2006 after nine years litigating toxic tort and environmental matters at Latham & Watkins, where he was managing partner of the firm's Newark office; national chairman of Patton Boggs' toxic torts and product liability practice groups; executive committee member.
Anthony Laura (partner, Newark, 1986) has extensive experience representing manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies and medical device makers; previously a partner at Reed Smith, where he headed the New Jersey trial practice group; past chairman of New Jersey State Bar Association's Product Liability and Toxic Tort Section.
Christopher DiMuro (partner, Newark, 1988) represents large chemical, medical device, health-care and consumer-products companies; has served as regional and national coordinating counsel and de facto general counsel for several companies in connection with recurring tort and product liability claims; one of 30 attorneys who, along with Tyrrell, came from Latham & Watkins' litigation department in 2006.
John McGahren (partner, Newark, 1990) managing partner of New Jersey office; handles a wide variety of environmental litigation, enforcement and compliance matters, ranging from hazardous waste litigation to counseling industrial clients on regulatory matters; former Latham & Watkins partner.
Joseph Hopkins (partner, Newark, 1992) has defended cases involving dust and chemical exposure, pharmaceuticals, the steel industry and telecommunications; was of counsel at Latham & Watkins.
Scott Weber (partner, Newark, 1993) served as senior counselor to the secretary at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, assisting with policy development; concentrates on general commercial and class-action defense, white-collar criminal defense and internal investigations, toxic torts and product liability; has acted as principal or second chair in numerous trials; formerly of Latham & Watkins.
Lisa Ann Ruggiero (partner, Newark,1993) has represented high-profile clients on matters relating to asbestos, medical devices, telecommunications equipment, consumer and juvenile products, heavy equipment; formerly of Latham & Watkins.
Eric Westenberger (partner, Newark, 1999) has defended several product liability, toxic tort and class-action matters for numerous high-profile clients, including a major food biotechnology company and the largest telecommunications organization in the U.S.; previously with Latham & Watkins.
Elissa Glasband (partner, Newark, 2000) helped defend a Fortune 500 chemical company, a multinational construction company, and other clients; has experience through the entire litigation process, including investigation, pleading, discovery, witness preparation, trial and appeal; was a Latham & Watkins associate.
Jason Rockwell (partner, Newark, 2000) participated in the defense of numerous high-profile clients, including construction management companies and defense contractors; focuses on appeals and critical motion practice in complex litigation; was a Latham & Watkins associate.
Daniel Mulvihill (of counsel, Newark, 2004) represents clients in complex environmental and natural resources litigation; previously was an environmental, land, and resources associate at Latham & Watkins and an associate in the litigation practice group at Sidley Austin; coordinates the firm's New Jersey pro bono program.
Stephanie Feingold (partner, Newark, 2005) has counseled major corporations in connection with enforcement actions by environmental agencies and governmental authorities and has also represented major corporations, insurers and reinsurers in litigation, mediation and arbitration; concentrates in environmental litigation and environmental and land use regulatory counseling
Claire Cooper (associate, Newark, 2006) handles complex environmental litigation arising under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), Spill Act and other state and federal environmental statutes.
Other key litigators: partners Mark Errico, Jonathan Peck, Mark Sheridan, Justin Strochlic and John Zefutie Jr.; of counsel Jason King and Adlai Small; and associates Patrick Gilmartin, Erin Kahn, Andrew McNally, Anthony Molloy, Amer Pharaon, Ora Sheinson and Alyson Villano.
Cases of Note:
Chevron Corp. v. Naranjo, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit The firm serves as international counsel to plaintiffs in litigation involving widespread contaminated soil and water in the Ecuadorian Amazon. An Ecuadorian trial court found Chevron liable for approximately $19 billion in damages, which was upheld on appeal. After the District Court entered a preliminary injunction enjoining worldwide enforcement of the judgment, Patton Boggs obtained a complete reversal and vacatur of the injunction from the Second Circuit on Jan. 26, 2012. Patton Boggs separately appeared before the D.C. Circuit and Third Circuit and succeeded in obtaining decisions reversing lower court orders requiring the production of its clients' privileged documents.
In re Toyota Motor Corporation Unintended Acceleration Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation In 2012, Patton Boggs continued its role as counsel to the Toyota North America Quality Advisory Panel, an independent group of experts appointed to review the company's quality and safety practices and procedures. In 2012, the firm completed its representation of the panel members in connection with subpoenas issued in the multidistrict litigation, including assisting with producing responsive documents and asserting applicable privileges and protections, none of which were ever challenged in court.
In re World Trade Center Disaster Site Litigation, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York Patton Boggs was selected as trial counsel for the City of New York and 150 contractors in connection with personal injury claims of approximately 11,000 plaintiffs alleging illness connected to the rescue, recovery and debris-removal operation at the World Trade Center site and related locations following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and served as court-appointed liaison counsel for all 536 defendants. Patton Boggs participated in the negotiation of a 2011 settlement that resolved over 10,000 individual actions (more than 95 percent of the actions pending at the time) and helped negotiate settlement of numerous remaining claims in 2012.
Spaulding v. Monsanto Co., U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York The firm served as counsel to Monsanto, a bio-agricultural company, in an action related to legacy litigation stemming from production of pesticide Agent Orange under government contract, and developed strategy that assisted in the defense of hundreds of related actions. Attorneys drafted a novel motion testing the scope of the government contract immunity defense, which soon after created the environment for complex and structured settlement plans in all cases that greatly benefited the client. The case currently is in abeyance pending an appeal of a related case, Bibb v. Monsanto, which was resolved in a $93 million settlement in early 2013 but is expected to be resolved.
Ford Motor Co. v. Edgewood Properties Inc., U.S. District Court, New Jersey Patton Boggs represented Ford in two actions related to the decommissioning and demolition of its Edison automobile assembly plant. Concrete that was crushed and distributed to developers was later determined to contain PCB levels allegedly higher than was set forth in the sales agreements. Patton Boggs drafted and filed initial and revised pleadings, brought and defended over 40 dispositive and discovery motions, conducted and defended depositions of over 90 witnesses, gathered and analyzed relevant documents, engaged in court conferences and motion arguments, and engaged in mediation with opposing parties and co-defendants. The matter was settled in December 2012 on undisclosed terms.
In re Float Sink Litigation, Circuit Court of Raleigh County, West Virginia Patton Boggs handled product-liability litigation by more than 125 plaintiffs against INEOS Chlor Americas Inc. and other manufacturers and suppliers of perchloroethylene (PCE), a chemical used in "float sink" labs in coal-processing facilities in West Virginia. The plaintiffs alleged that the manufacturers failed to warn about health risks associated with exposure to PCE. INEOS was dismissed from the action in June 2012 with no payment to plaintiffs whatsoever. Patton Boggs also defended INEOS in separate suits brought by former flooring workers in the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis, Missouri. Plaintiffs claimed that their prolonged exposure to various flooring chemicals caused injuries, including cognitive disorders and severe pain. INEOS was dismissed from one action, and settled the second action on undisclosed terms.