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Quentin F Urquhart Jr
Office:
400 Poydras Street, Suite 2700
70130
City:
New Orleans
State:
Louisiana
Country:
USA
Tel:
+1 504 310 2107
Fax:
+1 504 310 2101

Questions and Answers:

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders: Product Liability Defence

Quentin Urquhart is a senior partner with Irwin Fritchie Urquhart & Moore who concentrates his trial practice in the defence of individual and multiparty claims involving a wide range of products including electrical components, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, robotic equipment, hydraulic components, food products, pesticides, vehicles, genetically engineered crops, construction equipment, radiation exposures and asbestos. Urquhart has served as local, regional and national counsel and successfully defended multimillion-dollar claims through to verdict. He is a frequent guest speaker and author on numerous subjects ranging from federal civil procedure to trial strategy.

WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO A CAREER IN PRODUCT LIABILITY DEFENCE?

The opportunity to learn about so many different kinds of products. Each case presents a unique challenge to thoroughly understand the underlying need for the product, how it was developed and what it took to bring it to market. One of the things I like most about my practice is trying to find the best way to present complex evidence about a product to a jury.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST MEMORABLE CASE OF YOUR CAREER SO FAR?

One of the most fascinating cases I worked on involved an agricultural chemical sold in the early 1900s to prevent the spread of disease in cattle. Later, it was alleged that the use of this product by cattle ranchers resulted in groundwater contamination and a products liability claim was asserted against the successor to the company who originally manufactured the product. To defend the litigation, we had to research historical information dating back to the late 1800s about the impact of the disease and how this product had helped to save the US cattle industry.

YOUR WORK ENCOMPASSES DEFENDING CLAIMS CONCERNING A BROAD RANGE OF PRODUCTS – TO WHAT EXTENT IS SECTOR-SPECIFIC KNOWLEDGE IMPORTANT WHEN HANDLING DIFFERENT CASES?

Obviously, if a lawyer is already familiar with the particular product or category of products, this will decrease the initial learning curve in defending the claim. However, we never consider a lack of sector-specific knowledge a hindrance in defending a particular claim. We are quick learners and, in many cases, the lack of prior knowledge can actually be
an advantage since we bring a fresh perspective to the table.  

HOW HAVE ADVANCEMENTS IN TECHNOLOGY AFFECTED THE PRACTICE SINCE YOU BEGAN YOUR CAREER?

I have been an early adopter of many technologies that are now commonplace in the legal industry. In 1984, I brought my own computer to the office and started using it to type briefs long before this became the norm. While technology has certainly helped to make the practice of law and how we communicate more efficient, I really appreciate tools that help me to be a more effective advocate for our clients.

ARE THERE ANY PARTICULAR CHALLENGES CURRENTLY FACING PRODUCT LIABILITY DEFENCE PRACTITIONERS?

Over the last 20 years, we have seen a significant increase in “mass tort” litigation in which plaintiff law firms focus hundreds or even thousands of claims in a small number of jurisdictions. Such cumulations can exert undue pressure on product liability defendants to settle without due regard for the merits of individual claims. The key to successfully defending such claims is to create the maximum number of opportunities to eliminate or reduce your client’s exposure while identifying the best time to pursue a favorable overall resolution.

WHAT QUALITIES MAKE A SUCCESSFUL TRIAL LAWYER?

Honesty, passion, hard work and a willingness to take calculated risks to achieve the best results for your client. A good trial lawyer must also keep in mind that defending product liability cases is not the “business” of the client.

AS A SPECIALIST CIVIL LITIGATION FIRM, HOW DOES IRWIN FRITCHIE URQUHART & MOORE DISTINGUISH ITSELF FROM THE COMPETITION?

Our singular focus is on the defence of civil litigation and we have put together a team of experienced and highly qualified professionals who passionately represent the interests of our clients. Although we are capable of handling many matters internally, we are also “team players” and will enthusiastically assume virtually any role.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNGER LAWYERS LOOKING TO SPECIALISE IN THIS AREA?

The defence of products liability litigation presents numerous opportunities for engagement but it is important for younger lawyers to identify specific areas where they can have the biggest impact. They should then focus on becoming an essential resource to their firm (and its clients) in that area. 

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