Our product liability, toxic exposure, and mass tort practice focuses on the management and litigation of complex, high stakes liability matters arising from the production and sale of allegedly defective products and exposure to allegedly harmful substances. Because such matters may not be confined to one court or one jurisdiction, they often require strategic coordination by sophisticated national counsel to limit liability and avoid the pitfalls of a disjointed defense conducted independently by multiple counsel. The firm’s managing partner, David R. Scheidemantle, has been involved in such representations since the 1980s, when he was part of a team defending a manufacturer of asbestos-containing fireproofing in approximately 150 litigations nationwide, involving thousands of buildings, including virtually every public school and public building and multiple bridges, tunnels, and office buildings in the City of New York.
Product liability matters must be managed and addressed as early as possible after the client has discovered a possible issue. We regularly counsel clients in a variety of industries on handling consumer or customer complaints immediately upon their inception to avoid litigation if possible and to lay the groundwork for a successful defense if the matter proceeds. Through a strategic and, if necessary, aggressive approach, we have been able to dispose of many claims without the payment of any settlement funds by our clients, even when litigation proceeds against other parties.
We also provide legal advice and support to clients for the reformulation or alteration of products to avoid future claims and assist in developing and implementing internal procedures, such as instituting a consumer product safety committee, to avoid claims and adhere to regulatory requirements.
A coordinated defense of product liability and mass tort matters requires not only the top notch legal skills possessed by our litigators but also proactive management of all aspects of the matter, from risk handling and insurance coverage to customer issues, public relations, and governmental lobbying. As a result of the philosophy and approach we bring to this area of the practice, clients often call upon us to address client problems that other assigned counsel have been unable to solve.
Our lawyers’ vast experience in this area of practice includes the following:
- National outside counsel for a multi-billion dollar manufacturing company in litigation filed in various state and federal courts throughout North America, involving alleged defects in sealant, adhesive, and lubricating products
- Defeated class certification in defense of a manufacturer in a putative class action involving thousands of alleged product uses in California and damages allegedly exceeding $750 million; the parties subsequently reached a settlement pursuant to which our client paid no money to plaintiffs
- Obtained summary judgment and dismissal of an alleged $200 million putative class action comprised of window and door manufacturers and distributors who had utilized the sealants over a 20-year period Wasco Prods., Inc. v. Southwall Techs., Inc., et al., 435 F.3d 989 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 127 S. Ct. 83 (2006)
- Successful defense, resulting in dismissals of our clients without the payment of any settlement funds, of many occupational exposure litigations since 2007, in diverse jurisdictions including California, Massachusetts, and Missouri
- Disposal of $1 million claim, with no payment of any settlement funds, involving hundreds of allegedly defective roofs in Illinois
- Successful defense, with no payment of any settlement funds, of multiple actions involving exposure by residents to allegedly toxic building products
- Disposal of potential claim by major mid-western university involving alleged defects in its swimming pools, without the payment of any settlement funds
- Successful defense, with no payment of any settlement funds, of product defect litigation in Montreal, involving a claim of $2.1 million for approximately 17,000 defective windows
- Successful defense, with no payment of any settlement funds, of product defect litigation involving a hotel constructed in Deadhorse, Alaska
- Won dismissal, based on the plaintiff’s litigation conduct, of virtually all claimed damages in alleged $30 million products action, then defeated the plaintiff’s petition for interlocutory appeal; shortly thereafter, the plaintiff agreed to dismiss the action in exchange solely for a waiver of costs
- Argued and won affirmance in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit of the dismissal of a massive products liability action alleging $4 million in damages Four Seasons Solar Prods. Corp. v. Black & Decker Corp., et al., 2004 U.S. App. LEXIS 10688 (2d Cir. June 1, 2004)
- Successful resolution of product defect litigation in Toronto, where plaintiff initially sought $1.5 million, then, during the principal’s testimony, reduced the amount claimed to approximately $400,000, leading to a settlement for much less
- Defended and obtained dismissal of the alleged manufacturer of shock absorbers in an action arising out of the nationally reported collision between a van and a truck in Texas, in which 16 passengers in the van were killed while on their way from Los Angeles to a family reunion in Mississippi
- On behalf of an international chemical company, obtained the dismissal on the pleadings of an environmental nuisance and fear of cancer action brought by 60 residents of a trailer park located near the company’s facility in Southgate, California
- Represented a Texas-based natural gas company in the prosecution of an indemnity action against the manufacturer of PCBs utilized in a pipeline extending from Texas to Arizona
- Defended a manufacturer of polybutylene underground water pipes in a claim alleging product failure, avoiding litigation, and entering into a highly favorable settlement after the matter had been litigated between the other parties
For further information, please contact David R. Scheidemantle (dscheidemantle@ScheidemantleLawGroup.com); Joshua J. Pollack (jpollack@ScheidemantleLawGroup.com); or Caroline A. H. Sayers (csayers@ScheidemantleLawGroup.com).