Practice/Industry Group Overview
Depth and Scope
Few law firms in California have experience as extensive as RMKB in handling product-liability cases. With four of our offices in California, we have attorneys located in all the major California venues who are knowledgeable about the local federal and state courts, experts and plaintiffs’ counsel. In addition to defending many individual actions at the trial level, our attorneys have handled a large number of class action/mass tort cases. We are also highly regarded as product-liability consultants, capable of providing everything from preventive advice to preliminary investigations to the retention of expert witnesses. In addition to trial expertise, we have one of the largest appellate departments in California with over 15 lawyers emphasizing appellate and writ work.
Our product liability work has involved clients in industries as diverse and demanding as chemical manufacturing, recreational products, aircraft, coatings, food and beverage, automotive parts, consumer electronics, and industrial equipment, as well as clients in the drug, pharmaceutical and medical device industry. We have been on the national trial team for breast implant litigation, for the cell phone litigation, as well as handling individual actions involving kidney-dialysis machines and mercury amalgam dental fillings, heart valve implants, uterine devices, geothermal generating equipment and electrical transformers; printing presses; and, highway graders and snowboards.
We represent clients in class actions, individual lawsuits, and mass tort litigation, as well as in multidistrict litigation. Our lawyers were the original participants in asbestos damage litigation that helped develop current national product liability and class action law. Our lawyers serve as national coordinating counsel and national trial counsel on product liability cases and as lead counsel on mass, multidefendant toxic tort cases, including high-profile community exposure cases.
Product liability defense requires a sophisticated understanding of the product in question, taking into account manufacturing, engineering, production, sales and distribution networks, and processes specific to an industry, both nationally and internationally.
In all these areas, RMKB has a proven record of outstanding results. At the outset of a case, we assign a team of lawyers - usually one partner and one associate, for efficiency and cost-effectiveness. We use experienced paralegals to manage the paper load. We engage the appropriate experts early in the process. And we move quickly to establish a productive relationship with the client, intruding as little as possible in the client’s day-to-day business while gathering information rapidly and comprehensively. We discuss case strategy and goals with the client at the beginning of the case after performing the initial fact investigation. We work for quick and early resolution when feasible and in the client’s best interest. Should the case be one that “must” be tried, for any of a multitude of reasons, we have experienced trial lawyers to do so; such experience is represented by membership in ABOTA (American Board of Trial Advocates) as well as in PLAC.
We are trial lawyers. We know that the best strategy, the best facts, and the best legal briefs don’t mean a thing if the opposing party does not view us as a credible, formidable trial threat. We excel in the depth and breadth of our trial experience.
In terms of toxic tort and mass tort, we have a national network of top scientific, medical and economic experts in oncology, teratology, epidemiology, toxicology, potable water distribution, contaminant fate and transport, geology, and hydrogeology, among others.
We have more than two decades of experience defending toxic exposure cases, with mass plaintiffs requesting damages for alleged wrongful death, personal injury and property devaluation caused by a myriad of toxins and chemicals. We have served as lead liaison counsel in many such cases.
Our experience with a wide range of products regularly implicated in personal injury litigation includes:
- Asbestos Products
- Building and Construction Products
- Medical Devices
- Blood Products
- Automotive Parts
- Fire Safety Products
- Recreational Products
Chemicals and Other Alleged Toxins
Our Toxic Tort lawyers have successfully litigated cases involving all commonly alleged routes of exposure, including releases to soil, groundwater, and air, and exposure via workplace, industrial and consumer products and processes, and drinking water.
Samples of the toxins/chemicals with which we have a proven background include:
- 1, 4-Dioxane
- Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons(PAHS)
- Carbon Tetrachloride (Carbon Tet)
- Dichloroacetic acid (DCA)
- Dichloroethene (DCE)
- Diesel Fuel
- Dioxins and Dibenzofurans
- Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs)
- Ethyl Benzene
- Hexavalent Chromium (Chromium 6)
- Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK)
- Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE)
- N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA)
- Perchloroethylene (PCE)
- Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)
- Radioactive Waste
- Sulfur Trioxide
- Trichloroacetic acid (TCA)
- Trichloroethylene (TCE)
- Vinyl Chloride
Our Product Liability and Toxic Tort lawyers routinely draw on the resources of our Environmental, Corporate Investigations, and White Collar and Government Practices to handle specific regulatory matters, and defend against parallel government/regulatory investigations and orders, and provide additional strategic advice with regard to risk management.
Working closely with our clients and, as appropriate, public relations consultants, we’ve been successful in limiting unfavorable media coverage, using, when necessary, publicity to our clients’ benefit. We have received specific media training to handle high publicity cases. We have attended public meetings when in our clients’ interests and have thus been able to control or diminish any adverse publicity.
Corporations as Consumers
Increasingly, large companies and public entities are bringing actions against product manufacturers for alleged defects. Although the stakes may be higher, the principles are the same as in individual tort cases. For example, a power failure over a large area of Northern California resulted in an automobile accident that left a young girl paralyzed. Our client, a publicly owned utility company, retained us to defend it against charges that its electrical distribution system had failed, causing the blackout. In a two-month Superior Court trial, we succeeded in showing that it was the electrical distribution products, rather than the system of distribution, that had failed.