Practice Areas & Industries: Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP


Product Liability - Commercial Return to Practice Areas & Industries

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Practice/Industry Group Overview

Sutherland combines trial experience with technical and business knowledge to defend claims of product liability in many industries and jurisdictions.

The strongest defense against a product defect claim requires legal, technical and business knowledge as well as skill in persuasively explaining design, manufacturing, engineering and construction concepts to judges and juries. This is particularly true in toxic tort and pharmaceutical cases, where success with statistical, medical and epidemiological evidence and Daubert expert challenges have significant impact. Our product liability attorneys bring these skills and understand that product claims, which are often putative classes or multiple-plaintiff cases, create financial, reputational and business risks.

Our work for product manufacturers, designers, transporters and retailers includes trial, putative and certified class actions, and issues of indemnity, insurance and reinsurance. Sutherland handles claims across multiple jurisdictions, and our attorneys serve as national, regional and state/local coordinating counsel and trial counsel for clients facing repetitive claims in multiple jurisdictions. We developed sophisticated staffing models for mass tort litigation so that we can defend multiple claims on the merit in partnership with our client while managing costs and efficiently handling millions of documents.

Sutherland attorneys have specific experience defending claims related to chemical products (including MTBE, pesticides, petroleum products, silica, manganese, solvents/benzene and other chemicals in these families), IT products (including computer chips, semiconductors and electronic devices), and physical, mechanical and electrical component parts used in aviation, drilling platforms and drilling equipment, watercraft, automobiles, hand and power tools, medical devices, and heavy construction equipment. We also defend and prosecute claims for false advertising, regulatory violations, breach of contract for, inter alia, nonconforming product, breach of express or implied warranties, breach of express or implied representation and violation of consumer production and deceptive trade practice statutes. We understand each client’s business objectives and deliver customized service. Through our collaborative approach with clients, we foresee challenges, avoid surprises and provide meaningful counsel on ongoing compliance matters.

Why Sutherland
Deep industry knowledge.
Years of experience in the energy, construction, transportation, chemical and technology industries position us to provide exceptional counsel to companies facing challenges to the manufacture, distribution, design, sale, transportation use or handling of their products.

Regulatory experience. Product liability matters often intersect with regulatory, enforcement and compliance. We work with federal and state environmental, consumer product and health and safety regulations that may impose liability through fines or penalties and set a standard of care in product liability cases. We represent clients facing claims under statutes, including the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), Clean Water Act (CWA), Clean Air Act (CAA), Oil Pollution Act (OPA), Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA).

Proactive approach. Risk management and avoidance represent an integral part of our litigation services, and we assist clients with compliance and auditing procedures to identify issues, with corporate disclosures, and with activities such as recall and class notification.

Range. Our attorneys represent clients with product liability cases, including environmental contamination, malfunctions, chemical product failure and automotive product failures. Our extensive experience involves commercial entities as well as personal injuries.

Strength of a full-service firm. We regularly handle product liability claims in parallel with ongoing governmental, criminal or administrative proceedings, and we advise clients about voluntary and involuntary product recalls.

National reach. Our litigators defend product liability cases in all fifty states and in international jurisdictions.

Insurance knowledge. Our broad-based insurance industry knowledge helps us to work with, and represent, product liability insurers and reinsurers.

Nuts and Bolts

  • Industry Experience
    • Energy upstream E&P, development, transportation, storage and retention
    • Drilling platforms and subsea/subsurface and equipment
    • Chemicals
    • Computer chips, semiconductors and electronic devices
    • Pharmaceuticals
    • Medical devices
    • Heavy construction equipment
    • Aviation products
    • Watercraft
    • Automobiles and automotive products
    • Hand tools
  • Class action and multidistrict litigation (MDL) experience
  • Counseling and advice
    • Regulatory compliance
    • Pre-litigation risk assessment
    • Labeling and warning review
    • Recordkeeping and reporting requirements
    • Insurance and reinsurance coverage
    • Preparing for Food Drug Administration (FDA), Consumer Product Safety Administration (CPSA) and other governmental interaction
  • Environmental and health and safety statutes and regulations
    • Chemical reporting and monitoring requirements under Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), Clean Water Act (CWA) and Clean Air Act (CAA)
    • Assist numerous clients in matters involving releases of chemicals and hazardous substances
    • Negotiating on behalf of clients with state and federal regulatory agencies regarding enforcement and compliance issues
    • Experience assisting clients with in-house environmental compliance and auditing procedures
  • Contract issues
    • Express and implied warranties
    • Negligent misrepresentation
    • UCC actions and remedies
    • Failure to warn where there is no privity of contract between the parties

Take Action
Our partnership with clients means that obtaining a favorable decision is only part of a victory. We focus on your needs and business goals beyond the outcome in a single product liability case. We understand the impact of litigation extends to your reputation, business plans, employees and shareholders.

Selected Experience
Sutherland counsels integrated oil and gas companies with product liability cases.
Our attorneys represent several integrated oil and gas corporations in toxic tort and chemical exposure claims, property damage claims and environmental contamination matters arising from the inadvertent release of gas or oil. 

Sutherland defends international engineering company in a dispute with subcontractors regarding defective material.
Sutherland represents an international engineering company in a dispute against subcontractors regarding defective material supplied for use in the construction of flue gas desulphurization scrubbers.

Sutherland defends an electric utility in a power line cancer lawsuit.
Sutherland defended an electric utility in a personal injury lawsuit, which claimed that electromagnetic fields (EMF) from power lines cause cancer.