Goldberg Segalla LLP

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Toxic Torts

For years, the attorneys at Goldberg Segalla have committed their time and talents to turning the tide of toxic tort litigation. Case by case and client by client, in local and individual matters and in mass tort litigation, we have won trials and appeals and shaped case law around the country.

It’s the reason our attorneys publish in top journals, work closely with the leading scientists and engineers, serve on national boards and committees, and share our knowledge and experience in lectures, seminars, and certified CE/CLE courses. But our method is simple: In each case, we fight to put verifiable facts, tested scientific principles, and the law back in their rightful place as the determining factors of liability.

Our team of over 50 exceptional attorneys includes veteran toxic tort litigators, nationally recognized rising stars, and thought leaders with deep backgrounds in emerging toxic tort trends. With the ability to defend cases and advise clients across our national footprint, we’ve built a reputation for precedent-setting victories over aggressive plaintiff lawyers in some of the country’s toughest judicial jurisdictions — but also for developing cost-effective litigation management strategies to meet each client’s goals.

Breadth of Experience

Goldberg Segalla’s Toxic Tort team represents a diverse array of over 100 prominent clients in thousands of cases pending around the country. Flexible, collaborative, and efficient, our attorneys are equally equipped to serve as local, regional, or national counsel in complex, high-value toxic torts. Unlike many firms, our breadth of experience extends beyond some of the more traditional toxic torts and includes:

  • Asbestos — We have been successfully defending and trying toxic tort cases for decades in many of the “judicial hellholes” around the country, including New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, St. Louis (St. Louis and Madison County) and Chicago (Cook County). Collectively, our team has litigated thousands of asbestos cases across the country over the last 35-plus years, and we have experience managing immense asbestos caseloads. Throughout our footprint, we have capable trial teams on the ground defending our clients’ interests.
  • Legionnaires’ Disease — Our team leadership comprises nationally recognized litigators who have successfully defended clients in high-profile Legionnaires’ disease cases. We have a successful track record of mitigating, if not completely defeating, exposure claims related to Legionnaires’ disease and other bacterial contamination claims across the country.
  • Talc Litigation — Two emerging talc litigation trends are claims of exposure to talc allegedly causing ovarian cancer, and asbestos-contaminated talc resulting in asbestos-related disease. Despite the paucity of scientific and factual support, these claims are being filed with increasing regularity, placing manufacturers and suppliers whose products contain talc at risk. We have litigated the asbestos talc cases and gone to trial, obtaining the first-ever defense verdict in a talc case under New Jersey’s Product Liability Act.
  • Water Contamination — There is heightened scrutiny on municipal water suppliers and other regulated entities under the Safe Water Drinking Act (e.g., schools, day care centers, and hospitals) and similar state statutes. In the wake of the water crisis Flint, Michigan, claims regarding lead and other pathogens in drinking water are on the rise. We have extensive experience defending clients against such water contamination claims.
  • Lead Paint — Our team has collectively defended hundreds of lead paint claims. While our experience often helps us obtain early dismissals and win motions for summary judgment, our team never hesitates to bring a case to trial — and, if necessary, defend our successes on appeal.
  • Benzene — Lawsuits involving exposure to this chemical are on the rise — and have all the typical hallmarks of classic toxic tort litigation. Our toxic tort team understands the medical and scientific intricacies to rigorously defend benzene cases, and we use our depth of experience to our clients’ advantage.
  • Carbon Monoxide — Aided in part by advancements in brain imaging, plaintiffs’ lawyers are continuing to mount an aggressive challenge to the long-held belief that low-level exposure to carbon monoxide leaves individuals with no long-term deleterious health effects. Our toxic tort litigators mobilize quickly, tap the best experts, and use their solid grasp of the medicine and science behind these cases to mount tight Daubert and Frye challenges.
  • Pesticide Exposure — Pesticides encompass a vast array of chemical products used as herbicides, insecticides, rodenticides, and fungicides. Our toxic tort attorneys and support teams have successfully handled numerous claims involving chemical drift, bodily injury/property damage, weed resistance, crop destruction, livestock injury and death, idiosyncratic and allergic reactions, and personal injury claims in both class action and individual lawsuits.
  • Mold — Mold litigation presents a litany of complex scientific causation questions. By utilizing a carefully curated network of expert witnesses and tried-and-true, science-based defense strategies, our toxic tort team has built a long record of successfully resolving mold-related tort and property claims.

Depth of Science Experience

One of many things that distinguish our toxic tort team is our mastery of the complex medical and scientific issues related to each particular toxin and claimed exposure. Our depth of scientific understanding, coupled with long-standing relationships with prominent experts, positions us well to defend the interests of our clients in science-based litigation.

  • Our team leadership includes lawyers with educational backgrounds in epidemiology, chemistry, biology, and genetics, which gives us deeper insight and a competitive edge when litigating against our opponents.
  • We have served as national science counsel and vetted hundreds of scientific and medical experts in connection with mass toxic tort litigation, both in federal and state courts. We have successfully precluded plaintiff experts around the country under Daubert and Frye.
  • We regularly partner with science experts to lecture and write on emerging scientific issues such as nanotechnology and epigenetics.

National Thought Leaders

Commitment — to our clients and to our practice — has carried our toxic tort attorneys to the forefront of the field. Winning national regard as thought leaders in traditional and emerging toxic torts, we strive to stay on top of the latest developments, to anticipate tomorrow’s trends, and to share our knowledge with peers and industry leaders just as passionately as we work to defend clients in the courtroom.

  • We have lectured, both in private client settings and on the national public stage, on myriad topics, including Legionnaire’s Disease, talc (both industrial and cosmetic), a variety of asbestos-related topics, PFOAs, water contamination, nanotechnology, toxicoepigenetics, bisphenol A, carbon monoxide, mold, silica, formaldehyde, marijuana, food borne illness, mold, benzene, lead, zinc toxicity, pesticides and more.
  • Through our Knowledge Is Power Lecture Series we offer CLE/CE seminars and workshops on basic and advanced toxic tort topics for corporate, insurance, and risk-management professionals across our national footprint.
  • Our Asbestos Case Tracker blog has earned national recognition as the “go to” resource in asbestos litigation, named The Expert Institute’s Best Litigation Blog in 2016 and 2017, and making the ABA Journal’s Top 100 blogs (out of over 5,000).
  • We have authored over 100 toxic tort articles for local and national legal and industry publications, including the American Bar Association, DRI’s For the Defense, National Forum on Environmental and Toxic Tort Issues (FETTI), Drake Journal of Agricultural Law, Today’s General Counsel, Claims Management, Food Processing, Law360, Mealey’s Litigation Report, Asbestos Case Tracker, Prepared Foods, USLAW Magazine, and more.

Cost-Efficient Litigation Management Strategies

Managing mass tort litigation is often client-specific and raises unique challenges. We appreciate the importance of cost-efficiently managing litigation, providing strategic and expense-controlling representation during discovery and motion practice, and having battle-tested trial teams at the ready to take a verdict in the appropriate case.

  • We develop client-specific litigation plans, each custom-designed to achieve particular goals.
  • We have internal systems and checkpoints to ensure adherence to client or insurer deadlines and compliance with reporting requirements.
  • We have incentive-based file turnaround strategies to achieve early dismissal or settlement of claims when appropriate.
  • We develop global litigation plans to minimize duplication of efforts in individual cases.
  • We have internal mandatory training to ensure knowledge of each client’s products and defense strategies.
  • We have developed national coordination counsel strategies.
  • We routinely monitor toxic tort developments on a national level to detect emerging trends and new defenses.

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4.7/5.0 (1253 reviews)
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  • 5.0/5.0 Review for John M. Allen by a Associate on 05/04/16 in General Liability

    John is an excellent civil defense attorney. Most importantly, he seeks resolutions that are fair to the parties. This is a trait not often found in litigation matters. Given that John and I were on opposite sides of the fence in a recent case, my... Read more

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    John is an excellent civil defense attorney. Most importantly, he seeks resolutions that are fair to the parties. This is a trait not often found in litigation matters. Given that John and I were on opposite sides of the fence in a recent case, my comments stem from personal knowledge of this gentleman. Read less

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    Mike is an excellent attorney, a strong client advocate and worthy adversary.

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Diversity

Both within our own firm and across the wider business and legal communities, Goldberg Segalla’s commitment to diversity is strong, sincere, and a critical component of our firm’s mission and culture. Our philosophy has always been that we hire people who are excellent at what they do, and even better human beings. Period. We feel we would be doing a disservice to our firm and to our clients if we didn’t include contributions from every available resource.


We are extremely proud that our commitment has received regional and national recognition for the innovative programs we have developed and the results we have been able to achieve. The following is a sampling of the firm-wide or individual honors we have received for implementing initiatives that make a difference:


  • George B. Vashon Innovator Award, Minority Corporate Counsel Association
  • MCCA Firm Affiliate Network
  • Vault/MCCA Commitment to Diversity
  • Community Service Award, Defense Research Institute
  • Good Works Award, American Bar Association Section of Litigation
  • Outstanding Committee Chair, ABA Section of Litigation
  • Diversity Trailblazer Award, New York State Bar Association
  • Legal Service Award, Minority Bar Association of Western New York
  • Lawyer of the Year, Bar Association of Erie County
  • Legal Community Leader Award, National Federation for Just Communities of Western New York
  • Diversity Excellence Award, Buffalo Niagara Human Resource Association
  • Value Award for Diversity, Leadership Buffalo
  • Western New York Game Changers, Buffalo Spree magazine

What we are most proud of, though, is that our efforts have shown significant results and continue to make a lasting impact on the lives of many.

Leadership and Action

To put our philosophy and commitment into practice, we have a Diversity Task Force, which includes our managing partner, in place to conceptualize and implement diversity-focused programs as well as give diversity a voice in our decision-making at the highest level. The individuals on this task force share the firm’s strong commitment to increasing diversity, and they use their unique experiences and backgrounds to support and advance that goal. The team meets regularly to create programs, schedule events, establish diversity initiatives both inside and outside of the firm, set long-term goals, and develop the strategy to recruit and retain people from diverse backgrounds.


The chair of our Diversity Task Force, Joseph M. Hanna, has spearheaded numerous diversity initiatives in various organizations and outreach programs, serves on several diversity-related committees, and is a frequent author and speaker on diversity. Among other positions, he is co-chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) Young Lawyer Leadership Program, former chair of the association’s Minority Trial Lawyer Committee and its Special Committee on Human Rights, and former editor-in-chief of the ABA’s Minority Trial Lawyer; a 2014 fellow of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD); a past president of the Minority Bar Association of Western New York (MBAWNY) and the MBAWNY Foundation; and the Diversity Liaison for several committees at the 22,000-member DRI.


For more than a decade, Goldberg Segalla has proudly supported the ABA’s Judicial Internship Opportunity Program, which provides racial and ethnic minority law students, along with members of other groups underrepresented in the legal profession, opportunities to serve as an intern with a judge during the summer after their first or second year of law school. Joe Hanna — an alumni of the program himself — acts as a mentor and leader in the program, through which he has conducted more than 100 interviews for students across the country.

In 2017, Goldberg Segalla participated in the Thurgood Marshall Summer Law Internship Program, the New York City Bar Association’s flagship pipeline program for high school students. As a participating legal employer, we hosted high-achieving inner-city students for the summer and collaborate with the NYC Bar to provide them with additional programming before, during, and after the summer designed to help them prepare for a legal career.

Each summer, Goldberg Segalla proudly welcomes interns through a formal Diversity Clerkship Program that was conceived by Joe while he served as president of the MBAWNY. The program was developed in collaboration with the MBAWNY and the SUNY Buffalo Law School to provide opportunities for minority UB Law students to gain firsthand experience in the legal system. Since it was launched in 2011, the program has placed more than 100 students in clerkships in area courts as well as in several area law firms, with more judges and law firms asking to participate every day. It provides participants with an in-depth look at the legal process and the interaction between the bench and the bar that they would not otherwise get. At our firm, a dedicated team of partners monitors the work of these law clerks and ensures they obtain valuable experience to help develop important legal research, writing, case management, and client service skills critical to their long-term success. Our program earned the firm the Minority Corporate Counsel Association’s 2012 George B. Vashon Innovator Award.


We also have sponsored Success in the City, an annual diversity networking and mentoring event developed by Joe that brought together students, legal and business professionals, educators, nonprofits, and political leaders to make lasting partnerships. Many employment, business, and mentoring relationships resulted from this event. Past events have drawn more than 500 political and business leaders, legal professionals, and students. Success in the City has influenced the development of similar programs in Baltimore, Cleveland, Birmingham, Dallas, and elsewhere.


Our firm is committed to spreading the message throughout the broad legal and business communities that embracing diversity contributes to greater overall success. We conduct training sessions for in-house counsel at Fortune 500 corporations on increasing and promoting diversity. Our attorneys have authored articles and delivered presentations on diversity for various legal organizations, including DRI and the ABA, and our efforts and accomplishments in this area have been profiled in publications such as Law360, the New York State Bar Association’s State Bar News, Business First of Buffalo, the Buffalo Law Journal, and others.


In one example of our work to provide inspiration and raise awareness of diversity and women’s issues in the legal community, Caroline Berdzik, chair of our Employer and Labor Practice Group, spoke to Law360 for the publication’s “Female Powerbrokers” series. In the interview, Caroline discussed her career, the challenges of being a woman at a senior level at a law firm, the work-family life balance, and the importance of taking risks. She also offered guidance to female attorneys on moving their careers forward and advice to law firms on both increasing the number of women partners and retaining top female talent. Her longtime advocacy for women (at her previous firm, she served on the Women’s Business Development Committee and was a member of what became the national Women’s Presidents Organization) helped earn her a spot on the 2015 NJBIZ list of New Jersey’s Best 50 Women in Business.


Joe Hanna also was featured by Law360 in its “Minority Powerbrokers” series, in which he shared his perspective on breaking the glass ceiling in the legal industry, the challenges of being a lawyer of color at a senior level, how law firms can increase diversity in their partner ranks, and Goldberg Segalla’s core commitment to diversity.

Partnerships

Goldberg Segalla is proud to be a member of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association Firm Affiliate Network, which was created by the MCCA to assist and acknowledge law firms that are committed to advancing diversity and inclusion in the legal profession.


We are also a member of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD), a national organization of leaders in law firms and corporate legal departments dedicated to creating a truly diverse legal profession. As noted earlier, Joe Hanna was a fellow of the LCLD in 2014. In this position, he played a critical role in organizing the first-ever New York City LCLD Fellows Roundtable event, and he was instrumental in establishing a mentorship program in Hartford for local diverse first-year law students.


We support the diversity efforts of numerous organizations, including:

  • American Bar Association
  • Asian American Bar Association of New York
  • Columbian Lawyers Association
  • Defense Research Institute
  • Federal Bar Association
  • Korean American Association of Greater New York
  • League of First Nations
  • Minority Bar Association of Western New York
  • National Bar Association
  • Native American Rights Fund
  • National Association of Asian American Professionals
  • National Congress of American Indians
  • New York State Bar Association
  • Seneca Free Trade Association
  • SUNY Buffalo Law School
  • Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York

Our outreach efforts led to the creation of a comprehensive database of more than 500 minority law organizations throughout the United States. Contact between these organizations takes place in anticipation of bringing CLE and legal programs together. This group of minority bar associations includes both local and national organizations, such as:

  • National Association of Women Lawyers
  • National Association of Muslim Lawyers
  • Hispanic National Bar Association
  • National Asian Pacific American Bar
  • Black Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles
  • South Asian Bar Association of Philadelphia
  • Vietnamese American Bar Association of North Carolina

A Talented and Diverse Team

Diversity is further evident within our firm through the many languages and dialects spoken by members of our team, including Albanian, Arabic, Croatian, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Korean, Malayalam, Mandarin, Marathi, Norwegian, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Tagalog, Tamil, Thai, and Urdu.


Goldberg Segalla’s culture is one that values team-spiritedness, collegiality, and interpersonal harmony within our working community. We are a firm that believes in diversity in the workplace, and we are proud to offer a professional and positive work environment for each and every member of our team.


On these values, and on our commitment to diversity, we will never waver. We are proud of what we have accomplished thus far, but we also realize that this is a long-term mission. We will continue to innovate and to improve diversity in law and business — both within Goldberg Segalla and across the communities in which we live and work.

Diversity Matters — Join the Conversation

If you have questions regarding any of the firm’s diversity initiatives or would like to discuss ideas regarding increasing diversity in the legal profession, please contact Joe Hanna (716.566.5447; [email protected]) or another member of our Diversity Task Force:

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