Product Liability Defence 2018: Analysis

This year’s research into the product liability defence market sees nearly 600 practitioners from 32 jurisdictions around the globe listed in our guide. The US continues to be a hub of products work, with recent trends showing a growing market globally. Industries such as pharmaceuticals, medical devices and automotive claims all feature heavily among the practices of the lawyers below.

 

North America

Thought Leaders
1. Tripp Haston Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP, Birmingham
2. Bruce R Parker Venable LLP, Baltimore
3. Christy D Jones Butler Snow LLP, Jackson
4. Donald F Zimmer Jr King & Spalding LLP, San Francisco
5. Mark S Cheffo Dechert LLP, New York
6. Quentin F Urquhart Jr Irwin Fritchie Urquhart & Moore LLC, New Orleans
7. David Dukes Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP, Columbia
8. Sheila L Birnbaum Dechert LLP, New York
9. Sara J Gourley Sidley Austin LLP, Chicago
10. Craig A Thompson Venable LLP, Baltimore
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.
 

Shook Hardy & Bacon

This firm maintains its position at the top of our rankings for nominations this year, with an exceptional 23 practitioners listed from across its offices in the US.
Michelle Fujimoto is “a great lawyer” and a standout name in the US. She garners high praise from respondents for her practice which spans areas such as toxic torts, device litigation and pharmaceutical matters.
Eric Anielak is “an excellent lawyer” who is highly respected by colleagues for his work advising and representing clients on areas including pharmaceutical and medical device claims and mass torts.
Matthew Keenan is praised by sources as “outstanding”. He has an “excellent practice” advising and representing clients on matters relating to pharmaceutical and medical device liability claims.
Madeleine McDonough is highly respected for her wide-ranging practice covering matters including food and beverage, animal health, pharmaceutical and data discovery disputes.
Scott Sayler is a top name in the region who is widely praised by sources for his work on issues such as consumer goods, biotechnology and medical device claims.

Sidley Austin

A top US firm with eight highly impressive individuals nominated this year.
Sara Gourley is “a market leader” according to sources who praise her “excellent clientele”. She is highlighted as “very bright and meticulous” and “a top-notch product liability litigator and strategy planner”.
Maja Eaton excels in the market and continues to receive strong praise from sources. She has an enviable practice covering such areas as medical discipline disputes, mass tort litigation and toxic tort.
Debra Pole is described by sources as “a great lawyer” and “tough in the courtroom”. She has an impressive practice which sees her frequently involved in multi-state proceedings. 
Eugene Schoon is “a first-class appellate lawyer” with an outstanding reputation in the field. He is “the go-to guy for pharmaceutical and medical device appeals”, according to market players.
Heidi Levine is a “highly talented and impressively skilled” practitioner who wins praise for her “top-notch” practice which includes mass tort and multi-district proceedings, with specialism in the life sciences field.

Reed Smith

A dominant force in the legal marketplace that continues to excel in the product liability field. Twelve of its practitioners receive nominations in our guide this year.
Michael Brown is praised highly by sources, with one stating, “He’s an excellent lawyer – he’s one of my favourites,” while another describes him as “a star of the American defence bar”. His formidable practice has seen him represent major clients in the pharmaceutical field such as GSK, Pfizer and 3M.
Thomas Yoo is a greatly respected name in the field who receives strong praise from respondents as an “excellent litigator”. His practice sees him involved in such areas as biotech, real estate and transportation disputes.
James Beck enjoys a top-tier reputation in the US and is described by sources as “an absolute guru on pharmaceutical drug litigation”.
Barbara Binis is a prominent name in the field who is recognised for her work in the life sciences and healthcare industries, into which she offers clients exceptional insight.
Stephen McConnell possesses particular expertise on matters relating to consumer products, energy and real estate and boasts a strong reputation in the market.

King & Spalding 

The firm sees 11 practitioners listed this year for their strong expertise in the product liability space.
Donald Zimmer Jr is a pre-eminent practitioner both globally and in the region who is described by sources as “very wise, articulate and someone you can trust”. He is “one of the greatest lawyers” in the field and is well known for his work handling toxic tort and environmental disputes.
Chilton Davis Varner is praised by market players as “a great trial lawyer”. She is “one of the top lawyers in the country” and has a formidable practice in which she offers clients experience on issues regarding pharmaceutical and healthcare litigation.
Lana Varney continues to receive strong praise from sources across North America for her wealth of knowledge into drug and pharmaceutical matters.

Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer

The firm is well recognised for its work in the product liability space, with nine of its practitioners listed in this year’s guide.
Pamela Yates is “the real deal” according to sources who “hold a high opinion of her”. She is noted for her extensive experience in the field, with particular insight into matters pertaining to life sciences.
A “true star of a professional”, Sheila Boston is “lively, smart and well connected”. She is praised for being “on top of cases and very informative” and has a wealth of experience in multi-state life sciences litigation.
Lori Leskin is an outstanding practitioner who offers clients 20 years of specialist expertise in matters relating to mass tort and consumer fraud.

Other Leading Individuals

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

Canada

At Fasken Martineau Dumoulin Peter Pliszka is a highly regarded lawyer and one of the top-rated individuals in our research this year. Sources regard him as “a thoughtful practitioner” who is very good in automotives, sports equipment and medical device matters.
Steven Rosenhek is noted for being “a real international lawyer” who boasts a first-class practice encompassing issues such as life sciences and class actions.

Blake, Cassels & Graydon’s Gordon McKee is “one of the very best” according to our sources who cite him as “a dean of the product liability bar in Canada”. He has strong expertise on matters including automotive, medical device and environmental disputes.
James Sullivan is an outstanding practitioner with 30 years’ experience in the field. He is frequently engaged in representing clients on matters including drug and consumer goods claims.

“Top-notch lawyer” Mary Thomson of Gowling WLG is described by market players as “one of the first choices for complex litigation”. She is known for her expert handling of matters relating to medical device, food and beverage and natural resources industries.

USA

Bradley Arant Boult Cummings’ Tripp Haston is “an exceptional product liability litigator” who stands out as the leading lawyer in the region. He is a pre-eminent name noted to be “one of the best trial lawyers in the country”, particularly when it comes to life sciences and agriculture matters.
Lela Hollabaugh is a top name in the region for product liability matters who offers clients over 25 years’ experience advising and representing on matters including medical device and pharmaceutical claims.

Bruce Parker at Venable is a pre-eminent name in the product liability market globally. One source effuses, “He’s really good, I’m impressed by his work” while others note, “He’s very good at scientific issues.”
The “outstanding” Craig Thompson is one of the leading names in the region according to our research. He’s “a big shot” say sources, while his practice offers clients “really impressive” insight into drug-related matters.
Paul Strain is an exceptional practitioner who offers clients over 30 years’ experience advising and representing on a range of issues including life sciences and technology disputes.

Christy Jones of Butler Snow is “an iconic figure” and “probably the most prominent defence attorney in the country” according to sources. Her practice is “very well respected” and she is noted as “a great trial lawyer and strategist” with exceptional expertise in pharmaceutical and medical device litigation.

Dechert's Mark Cheffo is “top notch in his field” and ranked in the top five globally according to our research. He is “an outstanding lead national counsel” with “amazing capabilities in trying high-profile cases” with specialist expertise in environmental exposure and medical device litigation.
Sheila Birnbaum is “a terrific lawyer” and “a real asset to the firm” according to sources. She offers clients extensive experience in matters such as medical device and environmental claims.
Rachel Passaretti-Wu is “practising at the top of her game”, according to sources and is someone who sources “wholeheartedly endorse”. Her practice offers clients expertise in handling multi-district pharmaceutical cases as well as advising on risk management.

Irwin Fritchie Urquhart & Moore’s Quentin Urquhart Jr is a highly distinguished name both in the region and globally. Sources think highly of him, stating, “He’s probably the best trial lawyer in Louisiana.”

James Irwin is a top practitioner in the product liability field with an outstanding reputation for his work on issues such as environmental and toxic tort and medical device litigation.
Kim Moore is a highly thought of litigator who receives tremendous support from market players this year. She offers clients over 30 years’ expertise on medical litigation.
Douglas Moore has a strong reputation in the region. He has a wide-ranging practice in which he advises and represents clients on matters including pharmaceutical, medical device and aviation product liability.

Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough’s David Dukes is “one of the best” according to market players who consider him “a great lawyer” with an impressive practice covering issues such as pharmaceuticals and consumer products.
James Rogers is an outstanding practitioner with an excellent practice. He has spent over 25 years advising and representing major medical device companies on issues such as surgical mesh, silicone implants and heart valves.
John Kuppens has a strong reputation in the market and is described by sources as “a terrific lawyer”. He offers clients over 25 years’ experience handling such matters as risk prevention and product safety relating to consumer goods.

Tucker Ellis’ Sherry Knutson is “top of her game” and “an excellent trial lawyer” according to market players. She is noted in particular by sources for her outstanding work on pharmaceuticals matters.
James Mizgala is an excellent litigator who continues to receive strong praise from commentators for his excellent work advising clients on matters including toxic torts and pharmaceutical liability.

Greenberg Traurig’s Lori Cohen is praised by market observers as “a top trial lawyer”. Sources state they “have a great deal of respect for her” and she is noted to have an “absolutely fantastic” practice that provides representation on pharmaceutical and medical device matters.

Jack McCowan Jr of Gordon & Rees is described by sources as “a standout practitioner” who is widely recognised for his particular expertise in medical device and toxic tort cases.
Nancy Erfle is “a great lawyer” who offers clients extensive experience in the field. Her practice sees her involved in matters including aviation manufacturers and medical device claims, with one source effusing: “She’s my top recommendation!”
Laura De Santos is a highly respected player in the product liability field, with over 20 years’ experience representing clients on matters including consumer products and automotive cases.

Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott’s Philip Beck is a well-respected name in the product liability field. “He is the best trial lawyer in the country” say commentators who add that “if you had one person to try a case, it should be him”.
Adam Hoeflich is “very prominent” in the market according to respondents who describe him as “terrific”. He is “a super practitioner” who offers clients over 30 years of experience on matters such as consumer products and pharmaceutical litigation.
The “super talented” Rebecca Weinstein Bacon enjoys a great reputation in the region and receives high praise from commentators for her practice that spans issues arising from consumer goods and drugs among others.

At Drinker Biddle & Reath, Susan Sharko is praised by respondents as “a very good lawyer” who “manages a lot of very big litigation cases”. She has over 30 years’ experience in matters such as mass tort and pharmaceutical and medical device litigation.
Thomas Campion is a brilliant practitioner who receives high praise for his representation of clients on matters such as pharmaceutical and consumer products litigation.
Paul Cauley Jr’s practice offers clients over 30 years’ experience and is commended for his extensive experience in automotive matters.

Goldman Ismail Tomaselli Brennan & Baum’s Tarek Ismail is “a superb practitioner” who is “top of the field” according to market commentators. He is “a standout litigator” with a practice that sees him represent clients in the pharmaceutical sector, with particular expertise in mass tort claims.
The “excellent” Joe Tomaselli Jr is “a great lawyer who is very experienced in trial management”. He is noted to be “very good in cross-border teams” with a practice that often involves mass tort pharmaceutical claims.
Andrew Goldman has an excellent reputation in the product liability market for his distinguished practice which sees him represent clients on issues such as drug claims.
Shayna Cook is recognised by a number of commentators this year for her work in the field on behalf of major global clients including Bayer and Johnson & Johnson.

John Trigg of Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell, is praised by sources as “a fine lawyer” with a “terrific reputation”. He is an impressive practitioner with a strong regional presence, representing clients on matters such as consumer products and automotive claims.
Michael O’Donnell is a highly respected litigator with over 35 years’ specialist experience in the field. He has represented a multitude of major clients in recent years including successfully defending Michelin against high-value claims.
Malcolm Wheeler is praised by sources for his “big-time trial experience” and commands a great deal of respect from market observers for his experience acting in a number of major automotive, consumer goods and pharmaceutical cases.

At Hughes Hubbard & Reed, Charles Cohen is “an extremely capable, skilled and wise practitioner” who is adept at “coordinating global strategy” according to sources. He is “always available, on top of cases and collaborative” with a “deep understanding of many jurisdictions”.
Theodore Mayer receives much praise for his first-rate practice which sees him represent clients on matters including consumer goods, automobiles and pharmaceuticals.
James Fitzpatrick is “a top-notch lawyer” who “does a great job managing strategy, always with clients’ best interests in mind”. He is noted to be “one of the best in the New York area” with a practice that involves issues such as pharmaceutical and environmental litigation.

McDowell Knight Roedder & Sledge’s Edward Sledge III is “a fantastic lawyer” who is praised for his extensive experience in the product liability market. He offers clients over 45 years’ insight into matters including aviation, construction and mass tort.
Archibald Reeves IV is a prominent name who boasts extensive experience in the field including matters such as medical device and pharmaceutical litigation.

At Lavin O’Neil Cedrone & DiSipio, Joseph O’Neil is “a terrific guy” who wins praise from commentators who state that “clients love him”. He possesses over 30 years’ experience representing clients on issues such as pharmaceutical and automotive claims.
Basil DiSipio is recognised for his impressive practice which includes representing clients on matters including industrial product liability and medical device claims.

Campbell Campbell Edwards & Conroy’s James Campbell is “a wonderful product liability lawyer” according to sources. He “really knows his stuff” and is particularly adept on matters relating to automotive, aviation and pharmaceutical industries.

The “amazing” Molly Hood Craig of Hood Law Firm “should be on any list” according to one respondent. She’s praised as a “first-rate lawyer” and a practitioner who “is on everyone’s shortlist of best courtroom lawyers in the country”. Her outstanding practice includes such areas as pharmaceutical and medical device litigation.
Robert Hood Jr is an “excellent” lawyer who has over 20 years’ experience handling a wide range of toxic torts, medical device and construction litigation.

James Hood is a top practitioner at the South Carolina bar who is frequently engaged in multi-district litigation, often with a focus on matters such as pharmaceutical and medical device claims and personal injury claims.

Mitchell Williams Selig Gates & Woodyard’s Lyn Pruitt is “a very good trial lawyer” who is praised by sources for the “excellent work” she has conducted in the pharmaceuticals field.

Pepper Hamilton’s Nina Gussack is “one of the best and most experienced lawyers in the US” and “a really trusted adviser for her clients” who she offers extensive experience on multi-district pharmaceutical litigation.
Sean Fahey is “a great lawyer” and “an excellent coordinator of legal defence teams” according to one source this year. She is well known for her strong practice which sees her represent clients on issues concerning pharmaceutical and medical device claims.

Wells Anderson & Race’s Mary Wells is “a practitioner with amazing judgement” and praised as “one of the top lawyers in the US” by sources. Her practice has seen her represent clients on a range of complex litigation matters, most notably spanning the medical devices and pharmaceutical arena.

At Ellis & Winters the “fantastic” Andrew Chamberlin is a highly respected litigator with over 25 years of experience in the field. His wide-ranging practice sees him represent clients on issues including construction and medical device claims.
Leslie Packer is “always a thorough, diligent and well-prepared advocate”. She is praised by market sources as “an outstanding attorney with 30 years’ significant litigation and trial experience”.

Weil Gotshal & Manges’ Diane Sullivan is “a trial warrior” who is praised by market commentators as “an extremely skilled individual”. She is “a great trial lawyer” with a practice involving such areas as consumer products, healthcare and energy matters.

Rest of the World

Thought Leaders
1. Colin Loveday Clayton Utz, Sydney
2. Ina Brock Hogan Lovells International LLP, Munich
3. John Meltzer Hogan Lovells International LLP, London
4. Andrew Morrison Clayton Utz, Melbourne
5. Cécile Derycke Hogan Lovells (Paris) LLP, Paris
6. Roddy Bourke McCann FitzGerald, Dublin
7. Greg Williams Clayton Utz, Sydney
8. Alessandro P Giorgetti Studio Legale Giorgetti, Milan
9. Stuart Clark AM Clayton Utz, Sydney
10. Thomas Rouhette Hogan Lovells (Paris) LLP, Paris

Leading firms

Hogan Lovells

A highly respected firm with a formidable presence in the European market and a strong global footprint. This year, 17 of its practitioners are listed in our guide.
Ina Brock is “a dean of Germany’s, and perhaps all of continental Europe’s, products bar” according to one source. She is noted as “one of the best in her field” and “handles many international high-profile, high-stakes cases” including digital health, biotechnology and medical devices.
John Meltzer is regarded by one market observer as “the best life sciences product liability lawyer in the UK”. He “has superb knowledge of EU law” and is “extremely experienced” in matters including medical device, consumer products and environmental damage.
Cécile Derycke is “an excellent practitioner” with sources stating that “you can really trust her professional advice”. She has a “highly recognised practice, especially for drugs-related matters” and is praised by market insiders as both a “very impressive” and “an outstanding practitioner”.
Thomas Rouhette a distinguished name in the region and a “product specialist” according to respondents. His practice covers aviation, consumer goods and automotive litigation.
Sebastian Lach is “an excellent lawyer” who is “skilled in advising in complex multi-jurisdictional cases”. He boasts particular expertise in matters relating to consumer products, automotive and life sciences.
Francesca Rolla is “a very impressive practitioner” who offers clients over 25 years’ experience in the field. She has a wide-ranging practice which sees her represent clients on matters including life sciences, automotive and consumer goods.
Christian Di Mauro is a highly respected name in the Italian market who sources highlight for his expertise in a number of areas including automotive, consumer goods and medical device litigation.
Christine Gateau is praised by sources as “a brilliant strategist” and an “excellent lawyer” who “knows her jurisdiction upside down”. Her practice includes consumer goods and automotive litigation.
Sylvie Gallage-Alwis provides “timely updates on new developments” while also having “a thorough understanding of the law”. She is “analytical, intelligent and responsive” and provides clients with representation on matters concerning toxic torts and consumer goods.

Clayton Utz

A market leader in the Asia-Pacific region with an impressive five practitioners nominated this year.
Colin Loveday is “the top product liability lawyer in Australia” according to one source. He is an “excellent and sophisticated practitioner” as well as “a standout name” in the field with expertise on issues including environment, pharmaceuticals and toxic torts.
Andrew Morrison is “one of the very best” and has a distinguished practice which sees him involved in a range of matters including environment and toxic tort claims.
Greg Williams is a well-known practitioner in the jurisdiction with market players continuing to rate him highly. His outstanding practice offers clients representation on matters relating to drug and medical device claims.
Stuart Clark AM is “one of the real heavyweights” and a “first-rate” name in the field. He’s “a wonderful thinker who has been active in the industry for a long time” with particular expertise in toxic tort, medical device and drug matters.
Ross McInnes is a highly respected lawyer recognised for his extensive experience in matters such as drug and medical device claims.

Meitar Liquornik Geva Leshem Tal Law Offices

This firm provides top-tier representation and advice to manufacturers with expertise running across the full gamut of products work. Three of their excellent practitioners receive nominations this year.
Ron Peleg is an “excellent, smart and sophisticated litigator” who is praised for his work in pharmaceuticals. Sources state that “there is no comparison” and that he has “really tremendous experience in successfully defending multinationals” with “great legal skills and a confident, smart approach”.
Israel Leshem is “an excellent all-round litigator”. He is described by sources as “wise and talented” and regularly represents clients on matters including pharmaceuticals and automotive claims.
Hagit Avrahami possesses over 30 years’ experience in the field and has a wide-ranging practice that sees her represent clients on issues such as pharmaceuticals.

Other Leading Individuals

Australia

Peter O’Donahoo at Allens is a highly respected practitioner who offers clients over 20 years’ experience in the field with matters such as pharmaceuticals, biotech and energy all being areas in which he excels.
Ross Drinnan is an outstanding litigator who provides clients with representation on a number of areas including consumer goods and pharmaceuticals and well as advising on risk management.

Brazil

At Pinheiro Neto Advogados Sérgio Pinheiro Marçal is “a fabulous lawyer” who is praised as “an excellent and highly experienced litigator”. He provides clients with representation on matters concerning consumer goods and life sciences.

China

Ariel Ye of King & Wood Mallesons is the top name in the country for product liability work, with sources describing her as “an incredible lawyer”, particularly when it comes to issues relating to pharmaceuticals.

England

Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer’s Ian Dodds-Smith is a “guru” in the product liability market and is regarded as a top practitioner by respondents to our research. Sources praise him highly stating that “on the regulatory side, he is the doyen of the field”.

Rod Freeman of Cooley “has deep and broad knowledge and experience in product safety matters”, according to sources who praise his work advising many international consumer products companies.

Geldards’ Paul Llewellyn is an “excellent” practitioner who provides clients with extensive insight into product liability defence matters. His practice includes experience in a number of areas including pharmaceuticals, medical device and automotive matters.

The “wonderful” Bill Perry at Carter Perry Bailey “has a great mind” with one source effusing: “Every encounter I have with him is terrific!” He has spent more than 30 years representing clients and has specialist insight on matters relating to insurance liability.

France

Jacques-Antoine Robert of Simmons & Simmons is “a very experienced and impressive practitioner”, who “has a great clientele” according to market observers. He is “one of the best in health matters” and is also recognised particularly for his industrial products practice.

SCP Soulie & Coste-Floret’s Emmanuèle Lutfalla is “a specialist in product liability matters” according to commentators. She has nearly 20 years’ experience with matters involving industrial products and safety, areas in which she is particularly adept.

Germany

Taylor Wessing’s Henning Moelle is described as “one of the major European names in the products sphere” by respondents. He is “a great lawyer, who is very pleasant to work” and stands out for his impressive practice which spans pharmaceuticals, medical device and automotive issues.

Michael Molitoris at Noerr has “an excellent reputation” according to market observers who commend his outstanding expertise across the product field, particularly regarding automotive claims.

Ireland

McCann Fitzgerald’s Roddy Bourke is “very knowledgeable” and “a big player in the market” according to sources. He has a wealth of experience in matters including medical device and drug matters, with one stating: “If I had to hire someone in Ireland, he would be first on my list.”

At Arthur Cox, Isabel Foley receives strong praise from market sources who note her “very impressive” practice as well as her extensive experience in matters such as tobacco, medical devices and pharmaceuticals.
Orla Clayton is well regarded by sources and maintains an enviable practice. Her industry involvement is wide-ranging with areas of insight including healthcare and consumer goods.

Italy

Studio Legale Giorgetti’s Alessandro Giorgetti is “a great lawyer” who garners strong praise from respondents for his extensive experience across the life sciences and medical sectors.

New Zealand

Robert Gapes at Simpson Grierson is “always first choice in New Zealand” according to respondents who commend his excellent work handling liability matters across the life sciences sector.

Spain

At Eversheds Sutherland, Francisco Carrión García de Parada is “a fantastic lawyer who should definitely be listed” according to sources who praise his “excellent work” across the health and life sciences sectors.

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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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