Practice/Industry Group Overview
Product liability exposures increasingly drive the litigation risk profile of many U.S. and global corporations. These matters frequently extend beyond legal defense to the business effects on risk management, insurance coverage, brand image, financing, financial reporting, corporate governance, future corporate transactions and communications to shareholders. Moreover, they rarely are limited to one court or jurisdiction. Each claim has nationwide and, often, international implications.
Our practice is among the largest and most diversified in the United States, with more than 70 seasoned product liability litigation attorneys across 24 offices.
For more than 30 years, Wilson Elser has built an enviable track record of defending against product liability and mass tort actions in a variety of categories. Our practice is among the largest and most diversified in the United States, with more than 70 seasoned product liability litigation attorneys across 24 offices. We represent not only U.S.-based businesses, but have for decades been at the forefront of representing foreign manufacturers confronting exposures arising from U.S. product liability litigation.
Among the tasks we perform for our clients is to select, retain and direct local counsel in areas where Wilson Elser does not maintain an office. When our attorneys’ specialized skill sets are required, we frequently seek admission to practice in the jurisdictions where the actions are pending in order to maintain more efficient “hands on” control of the litigation. Whether in motion practice, in settlement negotiations or at trial, our attorneys are well known and well regarded for advancing our clients’ immediate and long-term objectives. We also have developed a nationwide network of consulting experts to draw upon as the need arises in any number of engineering or scientific disciplines.
We work in integrated teams, marshaling those resources – and only those resources – required to properly advise our clients and to mount vigorous defenses for their products. Our shared knowledge ensures a coordinated, cost-effective approach, whether a claim arises out of a product’s design, manufacture or marketing.
As noted, our clients include domestic and international corporations headquartered in North and South America, Europe and the Far East and representing a broad spectrum of industries and products, including:
- Agricultural and farm equipment
- Aircraft and aviation products
- Automotive products
- Boats and marine products
- Chemical and toxic products
- Children’s products
- Consumer goods
- Construction equipment/building products
- Fire & Casualty
- Food products Household appliances
- Industrial machinery
- Medical devices
- Mining equipment
- Office equipment
- Recreational products
- Recreational vehicles
- Scaffolding, cranes and aerial devices
- Sporting goods and equipment
- Technology and electronic products
A cornerstone of Wilson Elser’s Product Liability practice is our immersion in our clients’ businesses. We walk the production lines, examine quality control procedures and stay abreast of the latest government and industry compliance standards. Our attorneys also attend and speak at conferences, author articles for business publications and engage with clients and other counsel to reinforce our standing as consummate legal and business advisors.
We are frequently hired to try large, complex product liability matters in various jurisdictions throughout the country, often involving catastrophic injuries. Trial lawyers at heart, we’re not afraid to resolve matters in court when that path will best advance our clients’ objectives. Our attorneys routinely employ state-of-the art computerized defense techniques in connection with product liability and mass tort cases. When appropriate, we call on the skills of specialized investigators and forensic experts in such areas as engineering design, medicine, biomechanics, full-scale burn testing, forensic failure analysis and information technology. We also conduct mock trials and engage fully in jury selection to shape the most effective strategy, overcome prejudices and assess exposure.
Product Liability Prevention
By virtue of our vast trial experience, we are deeply familiar with the legal issues raised against manufacturers, and we are well equipped to develop highly effective prevention programs as the first line of defense in product liability cases, advising clients on ways of settling disputes without trial. We mitigate risk from the ground up, from drafting distribution and sales agreements, to training employees, to counseling organizations on claims prevention. We work closely with clients to identify potential risks involved in product use and to form teams, which comprise legal counsel, company management and departmental representatives, charged with addressing product safety and liability prevention issues as they arise. We are called upon to review and consult on product warnings, introductions and manuals. Recognizing the vital roles played by those in manufacturing and sales, we routinely conduct seminars designed to sensitize them to the importance of product liability prevention.
Our attorneys have considerable experience guiding clients through product recalls and managing the crises that typically trigger these complicated processes. We offer insurers and insureds prompt, experienced and intelligent engagement soon after a crisis develops. When circumstances dictate, we are quite literally at our client’s side facing regulatory bodies, the press or the public anywhere in the country or around the world. We also routinely assist them with policy wording, coverage and liability issues.
Establishing a product’s in-market safety is arguably the most effective means of preventing a lawsuit. Accordingly, we can assist clients in ensuring that their products are in compliance with all required regulations and industry standards, and we are experienced in working with regulatory agencies to obtain necessary approvals. Our attorneys stay current on product requirements and standards and materially influence their content. We also are recognized leaders and active participants in more than 30 key industry groups and associations.