Products Liability and Toxic Torts

Clients, ranging from some of the world's largest manufacturers and insurance companies to startup companies and individual inventors, turn to Duane Morris for counsel and representation regarding products liability and toxic torts. Duane Morris has for many years worked with clients to develop cost containment and strategic litigation plans resulting in high-level representation without fear of wildly escalating costs.

Duane Morris has many lawyers with extensive trial experience in the products liability and toxic torts arenas. As one of the 100 largest law firms in the world, Duane Morris utilizes industry-leading technology and IT professionals to efficiently and effectively handle client data needs through secure extranets and other means. In addition, our firm's breadth of capabilities and geographic footprint help us to assist clients with issues touching a range of legal disciplines in jurisdictions across the United States and around the world.

Duane Morris' experience includes product class actions, mass tort defense, and service on clients' national trial teams in federal, state and multidistrict litigation. In fact, we serve as National Coordinating Counsel (NCC) for huge, multinational manufacturers, and our lawyers have been published and quoted on best practices regarding the use of NCC.

The firm has working relationships with an extensive group of well qualified, independent and trial-tested consultants and expert witnesses, as well as experience in developing experts, and handling Daubert and Frye hearings in multiple jurisdictions. Our trial lawyers also work arm-in-arm with our Appellate Practice Group to provide sophisticated approaches to appellate issues faced by our clients in products liability matters.

Range of Services

Our lawyers have defended a wide variety of products manufactured, distributed, sold or insured by our clients. We also counsel clients on regulatory, labeling, packaging and marketing issues to help manage risk and avoid litigation. We advise clients on product safety compliance, reporting, recalls and penalty proceedings before the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and their state counterparts, and other regulatory agencies.

Range of Experience

Areas in which our attorneys have experience include:

Food, Drugs and Medical Devices

  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Vitamins
  • Dietary supplements
  • Diet drugs
  • Medical devices
  • Surgical implants
  • Surgical tools
  • Orthopedic devices
  • Hospital equipment and medical supplies
  • Clinical and genetic laboratory testing
  • Dental devices and equipment
  • Food and food processing

Consumer Products

  • Sporting goods
  • Recreational equipment
  • Toys
  • Weapons and body armor
  • Hair care and cosmetics
  • Cleansers
  • Clothing

Toxic Torts

  • Asbestos
  • Silica
  • Amorphous silica
  • Benzene
  • Pesticides
  • Mold
  • Chemicals, paints and coatings
  • Cleaners and degreasers
  • Ground Water Contamination

Vehicles and Equipment

  • Automobiles, trucks and their components
  • Landscaping and grounds maintenance equipment
  • Energy generation equipment
  • Construction and farm equipment
  • Printing equipment
  • Heating equipment
  • Industrial equipment

Representative Matters

  • In re World Trade Center Litigation (S.D.N.Y. 2012) – Defended the City of New York and over 150 contractors against thousands of personal injury lawsuits in connection with the rescue, recovery and debris removal efforts following the World Trade Center terrorist attacks.
  • Obtained on behalf of Ranbaxy, Inc., manufacturer of a significant generic acne pharmaceutical, a complete dismissal of all claims in New Jersey state court because plaintiffs could not evade the U.S. Supreme Court's Pliva Inc. v. Mensing ruling, which barred failure-to-warn claims against generic drug makers, and the Court's recent Mutual Pharmaceutical Co. v. Bartlett ruling, which barred design defect claims against these companies.
  • National science defense coordination for two major automotive manufacturers, including expert development, strategic defense oversight and trial oversight and coordination.
  • National coordinating counsel for Pliva in its PPA litigation involving both diet drugs and generic prescription medications.
  • Participated in a successful Frye hearing in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas on behalf of Ford Motor Company and General Motors Corporation, which challenged the opinions of plaintiffs' experts that "each and every" exposure is a substantial contributing factor to disease.
  • Represent Fortune 100 manufacturer in one of the largest furnace recalls (240,000 furnaces) in the history of the CPSC.
  • Represent owners and insurers of the Water Taxi LADY D, which was involved in one of the worst maritime accidents to occur in the Chesapeake Bay in the last 30 years, in liability lawsuits that were brought by passengers and crew and also before the National Transportation Safety Board after several fatalities occurred when the vessel capsized due to a testing error made by the U.S. Coast Guard as to the vessel's stability rating. After personal injury lawsuits settled, represented clients in seeking to recover the amounts paid out (over $13 million) from the Coast Guard.
  • Represented major cruise line with regard to numerous passenger injury cases brought against their cruise ships for defective conditions and/or products aboard its various cruise ships.
  • Serve as national litigation counsel for a welding rod manufacturer in defending against product liability and toxic tort claims. The company, named in thousands of cases brought by welders or former welders who allegedly developed neurological injuries from breathing welding fumes, has joined other welding rod manufacturers in defending against these claims.
  • Advised on product recall for a "Big Three" auto maker involving unexplained hand brake failures causing numerous incidents and several fatalities, garnering large scale media and public interest.
  • Represented leading Tier 1 component supplier in issues arising from its supply of fuel connectors to trucks which leaked fuel, leading to a sizeable recall and business interruption issues. Engaged in follow up litigation against Tier 2 component supplier, which supplied the connectors, concerning sealing and molding technologies, manufacturing issues and questions of ownership of design responsibility.
  • Advised a major manufacturer of lawn and grounds maintenance equipment on product safety and labeling issues to reduce the risk of future product liability claims and to enhance the client's litigation defenses.
  • National counsel to dietary supplement marketer in U.S. product liability litigation. Represented client in litigation in more than 40 jurisdictions across the country.

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Peer Reviews

  • 4.9/5.0 (510)
  • Legal Knowledge

    4.9/5.0
  • Analytical Capability

    4.9/5.0
  • Judgment

    4.9/5.0
  • Communication

    4.9/5.0
  • Legal Experience

    4.9/5.0

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Client Reviews

  • 4.6/5.0 (56)
  • 91% (51)
  • Communication

    4.6/5.0
  • Responsiveness

    4.6/5.0
  • Quality of Service

    4.6/5.0
  • Value for Money

    4.6/5.0

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Diversity

"In my discussions with Duane Morris leaders, they frequently speak about how diversity within their firm has enabled them to better serve their diverse clients. They understand that investing in diversity is a wise business decision that positions them for the marketplace of the future."

Don Liu
Senior VP, General Counsel & Corporate Secretary
Xerox Corporation

At Duane Morris, achieving diversity is paradoxical. By supporting and celebrating the differences of our attorneys - and the individual strengths that they bring - our firm culture expands, fostering creative solutions for our clients. But diversity at Duane Morris does not mean that we have a certain number of diverse attorneys; true diversity means that it is no longer noteworthy to see diverse lawyers leading our practice groups or managing client relationships. Ascending to positions of leadership and greater responsibility and providing the highest levels of client service is simply what is expected of all our lawyers. Diversity is another strong asset that adds to our collective abilities to meet the needs of our clients.

Our vision of diversity at Duane Morris is to realize an environment in which our lawyers' outstanding qualities are not just measured by ethnicity, race, gender and sexual orientation, but more importantly, that our lawyers are remarkable as excellent attorneys above all else. Only then can we celebrate our differences while focusing on the common pursuit of legal excellence which everyone shares at Duane Morris.

To reach this goal, Duane Morris understands that the familiar diversity strategies and policies that most law firms have are needed. Without demanding results from such policies, most law firms are bound to fail in even achieving numerical hiring and retention goals. Duane Morris has been proactive and ambitious in its efforts to improve diversity at the firm, and has set deadlines for reaching the milestones which mark our progress. To create a more diverse law firm, Duane Morris is:

  • Committed to strategically increasing our diversity levels, which is currently at 10 percent.
  • Bringing together our Diversity Committee and our Hiring and Retention Committee to raise diversity as an important factor in our hiring decisions.
  • Dedicated to improving retention by building upon our monitoring and mentoring program for all diverse associates.

Combining new initiatives with our longstanding diversity efforts, Duane Morris has seen increasingly positive results. In the Minority Law Journal's annual diversity survey of the nation's largest 260 firms, Duane Morris continued to improve its regional and national ranking, rising to number 136 of all firms surveyed. Our strides in Philadelphia are encouraging; in a city known for both the racial diversity of its population and the lack thereof in its law firms, Duane Morris is one of only two law firms to exceed the national average of minority partners at all law firms. Additionally, Duane Morris leads all national law firms based in Philadelphia in the number of Latino partners. Nearly 30 percent of all of our attorneys are women, and more than 20 percent of our partners are women.

In our approach to diversity, progress in racial, gender and cultural diversity cannot be measured in numbers alone. Duane Morris has focused our diversity initiatives on both increasing the number of diverse associates and addressing the challenges diverse attorneys face in building lasting careers and rising to senior and leadership positions. While several of our key practice groups are led by diverse partners and female partners, Duane Morris endeavors to create a culture which will foster a deep pool of such attorneys who can then develop into the firm's future leaders. Duane Morris understands that simply hiring diverse associates will not change the diversity of the firm; Duane Morris is working to mentor and retain diverse associates so that our progress in racial, gender and cultural diversity is also reflected at the highest levels of leadership within the firm.

Our progress on gender diversity has been profound. We have no glass ceilings: women hold positions of leadership at all levels of management at the firm. Women lead a number of our key practice groups, including our Energy, Immigration and International practices, and serve on the firm's Executive Committee. The success of our female attorneys at Duane Morris has not gone unnoticed. Barbara Adams was chair of the firm's Finance Practice until her appointment by Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell to serve as General Counsel of the Commonwealth. In 2004, our longtime General Counsel, Gene E.K. Pratter, was approved by the United States Senate and is now a judge for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Our efforts to improve diversity extend beyond our firm's walls. The chair of our Diversity Committee, Nolan N. Atkinson, Jr., recognized the lack of diversity in Philadelphia's legal community and formed the Philadelphia Diversity Law Group. Nolan now serves as the chair of the organization, a consortium of 25 law firms and corporations that commits to employing at least one diverse first-year law student each as a summer associate. From this program, law students of diverse backgrounds gain access to what was once an exclusive legal community, and now have the opportunity to learn and develop their legal careers with experience at Philadelphia's top law firms.

In addition to our involvement in the Philadelphia area, Duane Morris has increased our presence at national conferences and events focused on diversity. We sponsor the Hispanic National Bar Association and its job fair. Duane Morris is also a longtime supporter and sponsor of the Equality Forum, a national gay and lesbian rights organization. Duane Morris continues to sponsor the Minority Corporate Counsel Association, and is active in other associations of diverse attorneys including: the Asian American Bar Association of the Delaware Valley; the Charles Houston Bar Association; Cuban Bar Association; Korean American Lawyers Association; National American Indian Housing Counsel and the National Bar Association.

The challenge of improving gender, ethnic and cultural diversity at Duane Morris is an ongoing effort that has the support of the entire firm. Duane Morris has been at the vanguard in supporting gender diversity throughout the firm beginning a generation ago. Our diversity programs are leading to similar success in improving racial and national origin diversity at Duane Morris. But even as we share these examples of Duane Morris attorneys and our involvement in numerous legal events, associations and programs for diversity, our hope is that such examples will no longer be necessary to mention in the future. We hope that through our efforts, and the efforts of other law firms, these stories become so common that they are no longer the remarkable accomplishments they are today, but simply routine aspects of the legal world tomorrow.