Product Liability

Managing Risk


“This group maintains an active litigation practice and makes an impression
in several important fields including products liability. . . .
Clients are pleased with the ‘technologically savvy lawyers’ who
‘react quickly and consistently produce good results.’

—Chambers USA

The responsibility of a product designer, a manufacturer, a seller, and a supplier for a product does not end at the point of sale or distribution. Rather, if an injury results from the use of the product, even years after its sale, the designer, manufacturer, seller, and supplier may become defendants in a lawsuit. High-profile cases can earn loud media attention and potentially millions of dollars for the aggrieved.  But no matter what the size of the case, the number of products that a company manufactures or sells, or the nature of the alleged injuries, a lawsuit can turn a designer’s, manufacturer’s, seller’s, or supplier’s world upside down. Reputations are at stake as much as the future of the products themselves.

Blank Rome’s pre-eminent product liability and mass tort litigation practice vigorously defends companies and individuals against a wide variety of product liability and mass tort suits, including, for example, toxic tort and various environmental disputes, matters arising from aviation disasters, and lawsuits arising from alleged defects in other equipment and vehicles. Blank Rome has been retained to defend single entities in discrete suits, to defend large companies, to provide litigation support in complex, multi-district litigations and class-action lawsuits, and to serve as national counsel for other entities in the defense of a multitude of cases.

The product liability practice has extensive experience representing various-sized entities that design, manufacture, sell, or supply a wide variety of products in many different types of lawsuits. No matter what the nature and scope of the matter, Blank Rome seeks the most favorable resolution under the circumstances for the defendant. Moreover, we have extensive trial and appellate experience in both federal and state courts across the country. We have represented national and international clients in a wide range of industries, including:

  • aircraft manufacturers
  • airlines
  • chemical companies
  • electronics manufacturers
  • general aviation, component-part manufacturers
  • heavy equipment manufacturers
  • hospitals
  • medical device manufacturers
  • producers of food-processing equipment
  • transportation companies

Select Engagements

  • Successfully defended manufacturers of engines, engine components, autopilots, avionics, transponders, emergency-locator transmitters, brakes, tires, and virtually every other type of component manufacturer on air transport, general aviation, and military aircraft, as well as ground equipment.
  • We represent the Paris, France, airport in connection with the building collapse of its newest terminal.
  • In a complex maritime construction case, Blank Rome attorneys prevailed on behalf of a premier provider of parts washers, industrial waste management, and oil recycling and re-refining services in an arbitration proceeding.  The case involved multi-million dollar allegations of damage to a dredging fleet of over 24 different vessels.
  • Served as lead trial counsel for a global manufacturer of chemicals and derivatives and its subsidiary in multi-district litigation involving water contamination in cities located within 16 states.  To date, the company’s share of the settlement payments has been less than half of one percent (0.005%).
  • Currently representing a major medical center implicated in multiple lawsuits following the deaths of numerous patients, allegedly by an employed nurse who has confessed to being a mass murderer at this hospital and several others over his twenty-year career.  Despite strong opposition by the plaintiffs’ various counsel, Blank Rome secured a change of venue, arguing that the cases were covered by the new MCare Act which requires that all matters be brought in the county where the alleged incident occurred.

 

Experienced Attorneys, Recognized in Their Fields

Our lawyers have government experience at branches such as the Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency. One member was an arbitrator for more than 15 years in U.S. district courts. The media often calls on our attorneys for comment and perspective in this area, including aviation and airport security issues.

 

Product Liability Insurance Recovery Practice 

Blank Rome’s product liability practice also represents companies in sophisticated defense matters involving significant risk exposure. We have extensive experience with a broad range of insurance coverage issues, including declaratory-judgment actions, first-party claims, interpretation of indemnity and breach-of-warranty clauses, and co-insurance and excess insurance claims, including:

  • aviation accidents and claims
  • commercial, industrial, and construction site claims elevator, machinery, and equipment claims employee liability claims
  • product liability / design defect claims toxic tort / environmental cases
  • utilities-related injury and damage claims

Select Engagements—Insurance

  • Successfully obtained a major settlement for a manufacturer, installer, and manager of national housing units in an insurance claim under an all-risk policy issued by the insurance company.
  • Obtained coverage for an air taxi operator in a multiple-fatality accident, where coverage was to be provided by the municipality.
  • Successfully tendered the defense of major airlines to subcontractors, security screening companies, and others as appropriate.

 

Asbestos Litigation

Our attorneys bring decades of experience representing clients in asbestos-related legal issues concerning liability, causation, damages, indemnity and contribution. Blank Rome lawyers have represented clients in both products and premises liability asbestos cases, and defended asbestos product manufacturers and suppliers. Our attorneys have extensive experience as national coordinating counsel, in-house counsel, and trial counsel in asbestos cases all over the country. They are knowledgeable of medical, toxicological, epidemiological and industrial hygiene aspects of asbestos litigation.

Past experience includes:

  • Representation of a private healthcare company in a Clean Air Act asbestos enforcement matter.
  • Representation of a company that owns and operates several rock mining quarries with respect to the generation of asbestos containing dust associated with rock production; conducted an air exposure evaluation; and obtained several Clean Air Act permits for the mining operations.
  • Representation of a major insurance company in asbestos-related Chapter 11. Successfully negotiated a settlement with a protective order issued that prevented future claims against the insurance company.
  • Representation of a large government defense contractor in a RCRA enforcement proceeding, representation of a large chemical manufacturer in a multi-media enforcement inquiry, representation of a marine transportation company in a Clean Air Act enforcement proceeding, representation of a private healthcare company in a Clean Air Act asbestos enforcement matter, and representation of a shipyard owner in a EPCRA enforcement proceeding.
  • Representation of a wire and cable manufacturer, a ‘big three’ automaker, two pump manufacturers and a manufacturer and marketer of medium and heavy trucks and mid-range diesel engines in various New Jersey and Pennsylvania asbestos cases.
  • Representation of a FORTUNE 500 cable and wire industry policyholder in disputes arising under a coverage-in-place agreement for long-tail asbestos and environmental claims involving multiple primary and excess insurers and spanning multiple policy periods. We negotiated settlements with insolvent London Market insurers, and represented the policyholder in WFUM Pools and CEAI Solvent Schemes of Arrangement.
  • Served as national coordinating counsel and trial co-counsel for two major petrochemical companies in asbestos products litigation filed throughout the United States.
  • Representation of Combustion Engineering in Texas in asbestos cases for nearly a decade prior to their bankruptcy.
  • Successful trial to verdict of living mesothelioma asbestos plaintiff in New York City.
  • Retention by several defendants as trial co-counsel in Ft. Worth, Texas to prepare the medical/scientific defense on causation and exposure issues in an environmental and toxic tort case involving five hundred plaintiffs alleging community ambient air contamination and exposure to a variety of solvents and respiratory irritants from a waste disposal facility in northeast Texas.
  • Representation of the largest healthcare company in the world with regard to the sale of asbestos, which was incorporated into asbestos-containing products.
  • Representation of asbestos insurance companies, including tendering of asbestos claims to insurers on behalf of manufacturing company and representation of insureds on coverage issues related to defense of same.
  • Defended solvent manufacturers and manufacturers of allegedly toxic products in lawsuits claiming liability stemming from exposure to such products.

 

Experienced Attorneys, Recognized in Their Fields

Our team includes a former member of the Asbestos Litigation Defense team at the Justice Department, a Vice Chair for the Toxics & Hazardous Substances Committee of the International Association of Defense Counsel (“IADC”), and a current chair of the American Bar Association’s Product Liability Subcommittee. The attorneys in our Houston office are national leaders in the asbestos field, with the highest level of experience and expertise in managing and litigating asbestos matters.