Product Liability Defence 2017: Analysis

Who’s Who Legal: Product Liability Defence 2017 features over 570 practitioners from 271 firms across 35 jurisdictions. In this section, we identify the leading lawyers and firms across North America and the rest of the world, as well as highlighting the most highly regarded individuals as established by our research. Given the volume of product liability work and maturity of the US legal market, US practitioners dominate our listings, comprising over 400 listings in total, with Shook Hardy & Bacon leading the field off the back of a strong presence in the US market. Hogan Lovells tops the list of international firms, while Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer and Reed Smith also impress.

North America

Thought Leaders
1. Quentin Urquhart Jr Irwin Fritchie Urquhart & Moore, New Orleans
2. Bruce Parker Venable, Baltimore
3. Christy Jones Butler Snow, Jackson
4. David Dukes Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, Columbia
5. Chilton Davis Varner King & Spalding, Atlanta
6. Edward Sledge III McDowell Knight Roedder & Sledge, Mobile
7. Gordon McKee Blake Cassels & Graydon, Toronto
8. Donald Zimmer Jr King & Spalding, San Francisco
9. Tripp Haston Bradley Arant Boult Cummings, Birmingham
10. Sheila Birnbaum Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, New York
The Thought Leaders are those individuals who received the highest number of nominations from peers, corporate counsel and other market sources this year. Our research has identified them as being truly outstanding practitioners and the very best in their field.

Leading firms

Who's Who Legal does not list law firms, only individual lawyers. The leading firms are those in each region whose listed practitioners received the most total nominations in our research.


Kansas City-based litigation specialist firm SHOOK HARDY & BACON dominates the US market, boasting an unrivalled 21 listings across five offices. The firm’s celebrated product liability defence team boasts an impressive track record across a number of key product areas and is particularly proficient in life sciences and tobacco litigation.
In Irvine, Michelle Fujimoto is an experienced litigator with over 25 years’ experience handling life sciences-related product liability defence work. Sources maintain, “She is an extremely bright and capable lawyer whom experts enjoy working with.”
The “superb” Frank Rothrock is another of the firm’s seasoned litigators. His impressive practice spans class actions, consumer fraud and deceptive trade practices across a range of products, including medical devices and pharmaceuticals among others.
Kansas City’s William Sampson is a veteran of over 80 jury trials and recently played a key role in the industry-wide keyless ignition class action, winning a motion to dismiss with prejudice for Nissan North America in related proceedings.
Also in Kansas City, Scott Sayler is described as a “phenomenal strategist” who stands out for his case preparation. He is a proven trial attorney with experience handling large cases on both a regional and national level.
Mass torts practice head Robert Adams is also recognised for his considerable experience handling high-profile litigations.

REED SMITH is home to 11 nominees in this year’s research.
in Los Angeles, the “eminent” Michael Brown is commended for his impressive track record representing healthcare and pharmaceuticals clients such as C.R. Bard, Medtronic, Pfizer, Merck and GlaxoSmithKline in complex matters.
Stephen Scheve out of the firm’s Houston office is recommended for his extensive expertise representing pharmaceutical and chemical clients in some of Texas’ largest cases.
Philadelphia’s Michael Scott is a seasoned litigator with vast experience handling cases before the state and federal courts.

ARNOLD & PORTER KAYE SCHOLER sees nine practitioners recommended in this edition. The newly formed litigation powerhouse counts product liability defence work as a core practice and the firm’s deep bench possess extensive experience across a broad range of industries.
Pamela Yates is deemed a “terrific operator” by market commentators. She is an internationally renowned product liability litigator, particularly in the life sciences sector, and counts Bayer, Philip Morris and Pfizer among her impressive client roster.
In New York, Lori Leskin enjoys a prestigious reputation in the US market thanks to her position as national counsel to Pfizer in relation to its hormone therapy and Viagra litigations. One source posits, “she is a strong name in the space.”
Respondents “think very highly” of Sheila Boston. Her impressive practice focuses on complex pharmaceutical product liability cases and is experienced collaborating with a wide variety of scientific experts.

SIDLEY AUSTIN’s leading product liability team is noted for its strong life sciences expertise. Eight lawyers are recognised across three of the firm’s US offices.
Debra Pole, head of the Los Angeles product liability and mass torts practice, is a major player in the US market, particularly in relation to medical device and pharmaceutical litigation. According to one source, “She is one of the country’s premier trial lawyers; she has really excelled and has a tremendous presence in the courtroom.”
Chicago’s Sara Gourley is described as “a recognised leader in the products space” by one peer. She focuses her practice on pharmaceutical and medical device products litigation and is known for her expertise coordinating multi-jurisdictional proceedings.
The “exceptional” Eugene Schoon “scores very high marks” with one respondent thanks to his extensive experience defending class actions, multi-district litigation and third-party payer cases.
In New York, Heidi Levine is considered “a fine tactician” who is “tremendous at managing major litigation”.

GORDON & REES is also home to eight nominees.
Jack McCowan Jr out of the firm’s San Francisco office enjoys a fantastic reputation in the market. He is a seasoned litigator with over 35 years’ experience representing a wide variety of corporate clients before state and federal courts in California and nationwide.
Founding partner Stuart Gordon is a distinguished player who has represented a diverse range of clients in dozens of cases, including serving as regional and national counsel in high-profile mandates.
Portland’s Nancy Erfle draws praise for her broad practice that sees her handle cases on behalf of life sciences, automotive, aviation and agricultural chemical manufacturers.
Laura De Santos out of the firm’s Houston office is considered an “excellent litigator” by sources. She boasts a well-established practice that covers pharmaceutical, medical device and consumer products.

SEDGWICK garners seven inclusions in this year’s research. The firm’s reputation is built on a longstanding tradition of appearing in high-stakes litigation for Fortune 500 companies and multinationals since the 1950s.
In Los Angeles, Ralph Campillo is one of the state’s leading practitioners. He is a seasoned litigator with over 35 years’ experience handling high-profile mass torts and class actions.
Firm chair Michael Healy is a major name in the market thanks to his wealth of experience handling complex, high-value product liability cases, particularly those relating to pharmaceutical, medical device and biological products. One respondent states, “I always refer work to him when I have a conflict.”
Of counsel Kevin Dunne, also out of the firm’s San Francisco office, is another litigator with vast experience, trying more than 65 cases for a range of companies during his career.
Gregory Read is also regarded as “a top-notch player” in this space.

KING & SPALDING’s market-leading practice is home to seven nominees, including two of the most highly regarded individuals in North America.
San Francisco’s managing partner Donald Zimmer Jr is “a hugely respected lawyer” who is “extremely knowledgeable”. His practice focuses on the defence of disputes involving pharmaceuticals, medical devices and toxic substances.
In Atlanta, the “phenomenal” Chilton Davis Varner is considered “one of the very best” by market sources. Her longstanding appellate practice sees her represent a number of blue-chip companies in significant regional and national cases.

NELSON MULLINS RILEY & SCARBOROUGH’s product liability, counselling and reporting team fares well in our research this year. The team regularly handles difficult class actions, multi-district litigation, high-profile disputes, and challenging personal injury cases before the courts, CPSC and other regulatory bodies.
The “distinguished” David Dukes is recognised in our research as one of North America’s most effective product liability defence specialists. He co-chairs the firm’s prestigious practice and boasts extensive experience serving as national trial counsel for major corporates in the pharmaceutical, computer and consumer products industries.
James F Rogers is a highly rated litigator who boasts over 25 years of experience defending pharmaceutical and medical companies in high stakes, complex cases and mass torts.
Edward Mullins Jr, another of the firm’s distinguished litigators recognised in this edition, boasts an excellent reputation in the US market.

BRADLEY ARANT BOULT CUMMINGS sees seven lawyers recommended in the following pages.
In Birmingham, Tripp Haston co-chairs the firm’s life sciences industry team and handles product liability litigation for major pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers. According to one respondent, “He is a top practitioner with great management and client relations skills.”
Lela Hollabaugh out the firm’s Nashville office is a highly capable litigator with considerable experience representing manufacturers in jury and bench trials.

Trial specialist WHEELER TRIGG O'DONNELL emerges as one of the top product liability defence firms in the US. Seven individuals are singled out in this edition.
Malcolm Wheeler is an eminent practitioner who is widely considered “one of the best appellate lawyers in the country” and “a tremendous resource at the defence bar” by market commentators.
John (Jack) Trigg is a market fixture known for his longstanding excellence in the US product liability space. He is particularly well known for his impressive track record representing major car manufacturers in regional and national cases.
Chairing the firm is the “exceptional” Michael O'Donnell who has represented clients as lead defence counsel in 40 US states.

At DRINKER BIDDLE & REATH, seven lawyers are recommended. The firm’s product liability group is known for its proficiency in pharmaceutical and chemical cases.
John Dames enjoys national renown, with lawyers across the country recommending him. Dames’ diverse practice has seen him represent a wide array of manufacturers before both state and federal courts.
In Dallas, Paul Cauley Jr, a new addition to the firm, has an excellent reputation for his handling of automotive, industrial equipment and consumer goods product liability cases nationwide.
Susan Sharko out of the firm’s Florham Park office is a well-known practitioner with a highly developed practice servicing life sciences clients.

Headquartered in Baltimore, VENABLE is a prominent US firm with an active and respected product liability practice. Pharmaceutical and medical device litigation are key strengths, with the firm’s team representing major manufacturers in national and international cases.
A number of respondents are effusive in their praise of Bruce Parker, who they consider “top-notch” and “a science guru”. Parker is a celebrated litigator, particularly in major pharmaceutical and medical device product liability cases.
Craig Thompson is described as “one of the top five practitioners in the country” by one interviewee. He has extensive experience advising on, preparing and leading defences for major national and multinational pharmaceuticals.
Paul Strain is a veteran in the field, with over 30 years’ experience handling complex cases relating to technology and science. He has argued cases before state and federal courts, as well as the US Supreme Court.

MCDOWELL KNIGHT ROEDDER & SLEDGE’s is home to four leading product liability specialists. The boutique litigation practice counts product liability among its competencies and is a respected outfit in the state.
Name partner Edward Sledge III, a recognised thought leader in the space, is described as “a legend in the field” by one respondent.
Archibald Reeves IV is recommended for his proficiency in drug and device litigation. As one source maintains, “He is a really great lawyer to work with.”

IRWIN FRITCHIE URQUHART & MOORE is a leading firm in Louisiana with a strong reputation in the US market. Three outstanding lawyers are singled out in this year’s research.
The “remarkable” Quentin Urquhart Jr receives the most recommendations in North America this year. Sources are repeatedly impressed by his “bags of experience” and “fantastic courtroom manner”.
James Irwin is a celebrated practitioner with experience handling many high-stakes litigations as both regional and national counsel. He is particularly proficient when representing clients in the life science sector.
Kim Moore is a skilled litigator known for her prowess in the life sciences sector.



Leading Canadian firm BLAKE CASSELS & GRAYDON emerges as one of the country’s standout practices. The firm’s team is adept at advising clients on liability issues, risk and litigation throughout the entire product lifecycle. Four practitioners are recognised in this edition.
Gordon McKee is regarded as “the undisputed leader of the Canadian product liability defence bar” by a number of sources. He enjoys an excellent reputation on the international stage thanks to his “deep and wide-ranging practice” and “tactical aptitude”.
In Vancouver, James Sullivan stands out for his skill and expertise handling some of the province’s most complex class actions.

MCMILLAN’s product liability team is a respected outfit known for its quality and strength in depth. The firm garners four entries in this edition.
The “outstanding” Scott Maidment is a distinguished litigator with a well-established product liability practice covering pharmaceutical, automotive and consumer products cases.
Lindsay Lorimer is “a key name” recommended for her extensive expertise representing clients in both individual and commercial product liability lawsuits, as well as complex class actions. She is particularly proficient when handling national and international pharmaceutical cases.

FASKEN MARTINEAU DUMOULIN’s Toronto office is home to two outstanding lawyers, including “definite inclusion” Peter Pliszka. A distinguished litigator, Pliszka is considered a “well known and respected products lawyer” by one source. His experience covers products liability, class actions and mass torts across a range of industries, including the automotive, medical device and sports equipment sectors among others.
Steven Rosenhek draws praise for his “broad range of legal knowledge” and his “perceptive international outlook”. He is particularly proficient when handling automotive cases, and chairs the firm’s industry-focused automotive group.

At GOWLING WLG, head of the firm’s advocacy and product liability groups Mary Thomson stands out for her extensive experience in high-profile pharmaceutical and medical devices cases. Once source describes her as “a very thoughtful and experienced advocate


Other Leading Lawyers

We highlight individuals at other firms who also scored very highly in our research.


Sheila Birnbaum co-chairs QUINN EMANUEL URQUHART & SULLIVAN’s global product liability and mass torts practice and is praised as “one of the go-to lawyers in the US”. Another source notes, “She is capable, experienced and a supreme strategist.”
Sources are also quick to “wholeheartedly endorse” fellow co-chair Mark Cheffo. Another respondent describes Cheffo as “practising at the top of his game”.

LAVIN O'NEIL CEDRONE & DISIPIO is represented by two of the firm’s name partners.
Joseph O'Neil has been defending major corporates for over 30 years and is described as “an outstanding trial attorney and one of those people who really gives back to the defence bar” by one market commentator.
Managing shareholder Basil (Bill) DiSipio is held in equally high esteem, with one source referring to him as “a legend in our state”.

Cedar Rapids-based firm LEDERER WESTON CRAIG is represented by two of its three name partners.
The “superb” Gregory Lederer draws recommendations from a number of top market commentators and is known for his extensive life sciences expertise industries.
Michael Weston is also recognised as a leader in this space.

BUTLER SNOW’s Christy Jones continues to impress respondents and is selected as one of the foremost practitioners in North America. According to sources, “She is an outstanding trial lawyer and a "recognised leader in the field".

HOGAN LOVELLS’ US offering includes the “superb” Lauren Colton who regularly represents life sciences clients in product liability litigation across the country.

MITCHELL WILLIAMS SELIG GATES & WOODYARD’s Lyn Pruitt, a litigator respected across the country, is commended for her “ability to distil complex, scientific arguments into understandable terms”.

At BETTS PATTERSON & MINES, Christopher Tompkins is a highly regarded trial specialist with over 35 years’ experience in the field. According to one source, “He is one of the go-to local counsel in Washington state.”

Molly Hood Craig of HOOD LAW FIRM is an important figure in the US market with a well-developed practice that sees her representing major pharmaceutical, medical device and consumer products manufacturers in catastrophic products liability cases.

CAMPBELL CAMPBELL EDWARDS & CONROY’s James Campbell is considered a “fine lawyer” with an excellent reputation in the market, thanks to his considerable experience coordinating high stakes, national litigation for a variety of clients.

At HILTGEN & BREWER, peers warmly endorse Cary Hiltgen for his longstanding expertise in litigation involving heavy equipment.

Rest of the World

Thought Leaders
1. Colin Loveday Clayton Utz, Sydney
2. Stuart Clark AM Clayton Utz, Sydney
3. John Meltzer Hogan Lovells, London
4. Roddy Bourke McCann FitzGerald, Dublin
5. Alessandro Giorgetti Studio Legale Giorgetti, Milan
6. Emmanuèle Lutfalla SCP Soulie & Coste-Floret, Paris
7. Thomas Rouhette Hogan Lovells, Paris
8. Ina Brock Hogan Lovells, Munich
9. Ariel Ye King & Wood Mallesons, Shenzhen


Leading Firms

HOGAN LOVELLS emerges as the leading choice outside of North America, with 15 listings – including three of the most highly recommended individuals – across its Hong Kong, London, Milan, Munich, Paris and Shanghai offices. The firm’s excellent reputation rests upon its strength in life sciences work and international coverage.
John Meltzer in the firm’s London office is recognised as one of the foremost practitioners in Europe thanks to his “unmatched knowledge of EU product liability law, strong substantive expertise and excellent client skills”.
According to sources, Rod Freeman is “one of the top product liability and product regulatory experts worldwide”. He boasts over 20 years’ experience in international products law and enjoys a fantastic reputation on the global stage.
In Paris, the “fantastic” Thomas Rouhette is a noted litigator with extensive experience representing clients in product liability cases and toxic torts litigation. He is particularly well known for his expertise in the aviation sector.
Munich-based Ina Brock is regarded as “one of the best practitioners in continental Europe”. She possesses a wealth of cross-border experience, handling pharmaceutical and medical device cases in many jurisdictions worldwide.
Milan’s Francesca Rolla is regarded as “an impressive product liability litigator” thanks to her expertise handling difficult cases across a wide variety of sectors.
Cécile Derycke out of the firm’s Paris is commended for her reputed practice focusing on the defence of pharmaceutical products. Sources consider her “a go-to expert in France”.
In Shanghai, Eugene Chen is recognised for his "strong technical expertise".

Leading Australian firm CLAYTON UTZ stands out in the region, thanks to its impressive team offering deep experience on sophisticated product liability cases. We identify five outstanding practitioners.
Colin Loveday once again emerges as one of the global thought leaders in the product liability defence space. Sources consider him a “top-notch, knowledgeable and pleasant lawyer”.
Stuart Clark AM boasts a longstanding reputation for “strong subject expertise and excellent client service”.
Andrew Morrison is renowned for his experience working with multinational clients on complex liability cases. According to respondents, “He is fantastic, wise and a litigator in his soul.”
“Rising star” Greg Williams impresses market sources in this year’s research with his “thorough and effective advice” on high-profile matters.
Ross McInnes is a respected practitioner known for his “superb legal advice, judgement and litigation skills”.

SHOOK HARDY & BACON’s London office is home to five nominees.
Gregory Fowler is managing partner and one of five individuals singled out from the firm’s London office. His practice focuses on advising major tobacco, alcohol and life sciences clients on the product marketing and description, as well as strategic planning.
Simon Castley’s impressive practice focuses on product liability defence and regulatory issues facing clients in the agribusiness, food and beverage sectors.

FRESHFIELDS BRUCKHAUS DERINGER sees four practitioners recommended across three of its European offices.
In London, John Blain is considered “a top lawyer” who is “great to work with” on significant matters. He regularly assists represents client is multiparty, cross-border cases.
The “outstanding” Paul Bowden is recommended for his extensive experience handling complex, high-profile consumer product litigations, often involving multiple parties.
Munich-based Dietmar Knopp is a notable name in the German life sciences market, while Vicente Sierra in Madrid is described as “an excellent litigator”.

At HMN & PARTNERS, three practitioners are recommended.
Gérard Honig is a longstanding fixture in the French product liability space known for his adept handling of national and cross-border litigation and ICC arbitrations.
Bernard Mettetal is a prominent figure in the French insurance market, particularly in relation to complex product liability disputes.
Completing the firm’s complement is third name partner Simon Ndiaye who is recognised for his superb work for major aviation clients.

KING & WOOD MALLESONSAriel Ye is a market stalwart with an excellent reputation in complex, cross-border disputes. A standout practitioner in the region, she is particularly well versed in life science-related litigation.
Moira Saville out of the firm’s Sydney office is also recognised for her wealth of experience handling large class actions.

Dispute resolution practice head Michael Molitoris is one of two practitioners singled out for praise at German firm NOERR. Sources are effusive in their praise of his top-quality practice, with one describing him as a “truly excellent lawyer” and another claiming, “He is the best in Germany.”
Thomas Klindt excels when handling cross-border mandates and has extensive experience dealing with European regulators.

At CMS, the “unflappable” Daniela Karollus-Bruner leads the firm’s dispute resolution team in Vienna and is well versed in complex product liability issues.
Jodok Wicki out of the firm’s Zurich office is a skilled disputes specialist who impresses one client with his “well-structured and practice-oriented solutions”. The same client also maintains, “He manages to deconstruct and resolve issues in a very efficient manner while keeping the solutions very elaborate and precise from a legal perspective."

Leading Australian firm ALLENS is home to two outstanding practitioners.
The “wonderful” Peter O'Donahoo is a go-to lawyer for large, complex product liability cases. His practice has seen him represent a wide range of clients, including tobacco, pharmaceuticals and aerospace component manufacturers.
In Sydney, Ross Drinnan leads the firm’s litigation and dispute resolution practice and is recognised for his considerable experience handling class actions.


Other Leading Lawyers


Annette Hughes at CORRS CHAMBERS WESTGARTH in Melbourne is a seasoned practitioner with over 25 years’ experience acting for domestic and international clients on matters ranging from risk management to litigation. 


At PINHEIRO NETO ADVOGADOS, Sérgio Pinheiro Marçal’s excellent market standing is summarised by one client: “He is an excellent legal strategist with a creative approach to procedural tactics and comprehensive knowledge of the country’s courts.”


Ian Dodds-Smith at ARNOLD & PORTER KAYE SCHOLER is considered “one of the UK’s stars” thanks to his “unsurpassed knowledge in this area". As well as co-heading the food, drug and medical device group, Dodds-Smith leads the firm’s European practice and offers considerable experience handling multi-jurisdictional, multi-claimant cases.

Toby Riley-Smith QC is one of three barristers singled out for praise at HENDERSON CHAMBERS. According to one source, “He shines thanks to his unsurpassed knowledge in the area.”

At CARTER PERRY BAILEY, founder Bill Perry is a noted disputes specialist and one of the UK’s most prominent experts in product liability and insurance matters. According to one source, “His terrific insurance expertise is extremely useful.”

GELDARDSPaul Llewellyn is a highly rated products specialist with a wealth of experience representing international corporates across a range of industries, including the life sciences, engineering and automotive sectors.


At SCP SOULIE & COSTE-FLORET, Emmanuèle Lutfalla is one of France’s premier practitioners in the field. Sources consider her “a prominent, smart and practical lawyer”.

At BOUCKAERT ORMEN PASSEMARD – BOPS, name partner Christian Bouckaert is a major name in the market renowned for his experience in product liability litigation across a broad range of industry sectors.


Henning Moelle at TAYLOR WESSING comes highly recommended for his expertise handling life sciences-related cases for major clients. One interviewee claims, “He is responsive and great to work with.”


MCCANN FITZGERALD’s Roddy Bourke is dubbed “an excellent choice” for pharmaceutical, medical device and consumer products multinationals. He both defends claims as they arise and also actively advises on product recalls and safety issues.

ARTHUR COX’s Isabel Foley heads the firm’s product liability and product safety practice and is regarded as “one of Ireland’s go-to litigators”. Foley boasts an impressive track record in pharmaceutical and medical device products liability cases.


At MEITAR LIQUORNIK GEVA LESHEM TAL LAW OFFICES, sources widely endorse Ron Peleg. One source refers to Peleg as his “day-to-day contact” who “knows his jurisdiction cold", while another claims, “He is the best I’ve seen on in Israel on products matters.”


Alessandro Giorgetti at STUDIO LEGALE GIORGETTI is a well-respected figure on the international stage, garnering nominations from European, North American and Asian peers. He is particularly proficient when handling the defences of medical devices and mechanical machinery.


At LEE INTERNATIONAL IP & LAW GROUP, the “eminent” Kurt Gerstner is a seasoned litigator with a longstanding practice focusing on product liability across a diverse range of industries. Sources describe him as a “unique and practical lawyer”.

New Zealand

At SIMPSON GRIERSON, Robert Gapes emerges as one of the principal specialists active in the New Zealand market. Gapes, known as “the man in town” acts for a diverse range of international manufacturers.


At Polish life sciences boutique KRK KIESZKOWSKA RUTKOWSKA KOLASIŃSKI, name partner Ewa Rutkowska is a respected practitioner with extensive experience representing major pharmaceutical, medical device and FMCG clients in complex product liability disputes.
Paulina Kieszkowska-Knapik impresses peers with her proficiency in pharmaceutical-related issues.


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Nominees have been selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed.

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