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Product Liability

For more than two decades, the attorneys of Riddell Williams' national Product Liability group have represented domestic and transnational companies in complex, nation-wide litigation involving bodily injury, property damage and economic loss allegedly caused by defective products or exposure to toxic substances. We represent manufacturers, sellers and distributors of products in litigation alleging product liability, negligence, failure to warn, manufacturing defects and other theories of liability. We also represent companies before various regulatory agencies, and have successfully handled more than twenty nationwide product recalls. Our attorneys routinely counsel clients on issues involving product instructions and warnings, warranties, disclaimers, limitations of remedies and other terms and conditions in sales, leasing and licensing documents; insurance; indemnity; and corporate disregard and successor liability issues arising in the context of corporate transactions. Our attorneys regularly counsel multi-national companies on a variety of product liability and related insurance coverage issues. This experience, combined with a proven ability to handle the largest cases, enables us to assist businesses in assessing and managing risks and to provide an aggressive defense in a cost-effective manner. We emphasize practical solutions to legal and business problems.
Chair:  W. Ward Morrison, Jr.

Staff

 

We are proud to have been selected by Fortune Magazine in 2006 as a “Go To” Firm in the area of product liability law in a survey of national clients.

 

Our Skills

Our product liability attorneys not only litigate cases, they advise clients on pattern problems with products, recalls, allocating product liability risk among suppliers and customers and a wide range of other matters.

 

Litigation

Our attorneys take pride in the firm's aggressive defense and effective representation of clients in product liability cases. We do not merely process cases. We bring to the table cost-effective and aggressive representation with creative problem solving to manage the overall risk presented by a product. We quickly gain an understanding of the product involved, and develop a coordinated regulatory, litigation and public relations strategy carefully designed to achieve the desired results on all fronts. The depth of our trial experience leaves adversaries with no doubt that we are willing and able to take their cases to verdict, a capability essential to achieving a favorable outcome.

 

The effective representation of clients in litigation matters requires not only specialized litigation experience, but also superior case management skills. We have the resources and experience to handle large litigation matters involving complex legal and factual issues, severe time constraints, multiple related cases and numerous parties, documents and depositions. Our ability to take control of a case from the outset and to develop a strategy that efficiently marshals the firm's resources enhances the probability of a favorable outcome while reducing the cost of the litigation—in larger and smaller cases alike.

 

Our attorneys have served as trial, appellate and national coordinating counsel in multiple significant, high-visibility product liability and toxic tort cases. We have defended claims spanning the gamut of products, including pharmaceuticals and medical devices, building materials, electrical equipment, heaters and temperature-regulating devices, industrial equipment and a variety of consumer products. Our attorneys have also litigated complex insurance coverage issues involving product liability and the release of toxic substances into the environment.

 

We also represent companies before various regulatory agencies, including the Consumer Product Safety Commission and similar agencies around the world, the FDA and other state and federal regulatory agencies and departments of health. Our clients benefit from the excellent reputation and working relationship that Riddell Williams has with these agencies.

 

Counseling

Beyond the courtroom, we have successfully handled more than twenty nationwide product recalls. Our attorneys routinely counsel clients on issues involving product instructions and warnings, warranties, disclaimers, limitations of remedies and other terms and conditions in sales, leasing and licensing documents. We assist clients in developing and improving their product safety processes and documentation. We also render advice on product liability, insurance, indemnity, corporate disregard and successor liability issues arising in the context of corporate transactions. In addition, we advise clients on compliance with the numerous, complex and, often overlapping, requirements of state and federal agencies that regulate their businesses.

 

Risk Management

The best product liability defense is an effective risk management program. Our experience enables us to pinpoint potential risks and work with clients to develop and implement programs to address them.

 

Our Experience

We represent domestic and international product manufacturers, sellers, suppliers and distributors throughout the United States and Canada involving products in litigation alleging product liability, negligence, failure to warn, manufacturing defects and other theories of liability. Products involved have included:

  • Industrial electronics, including distributed control, safety instrumented and UPS systems
  • Home electronics, including cellular phones, computers and video game consoles
  • Electrical products, such as motors and pumps, grounding devices, and temperature regulating and limiting controls
  • Industrial and residential process controls, gas valves and regulators
  • Food products, including salmon, hot dogs, chicken and French fries
  • Medical products, including heart valves, breast implants, fetal monitoring products and other monitoring devices
  • Bicycles and bicycle accessories
  • Building materials, including roofing products, pipe and house insulation products
  • Heating elements, hot water heaters, baseboard heaters and temperature regulating devices
  • Rail car components
  • Security and intercom systems
  • Chemical products, including isocyanates, PCBs, EDP, benzene, freon, human growth hormone, industrial polymers and a variety of medications and pharmaceuticals
  • Industrial equipment, such as aerial manlift devices and cranes
  • Power tools, including radial arm saws and table saws
  • Coffee makers and pressure cookers
  • Gelcoating of power yachts and sailboats
  • Sports equipment
  • Firearms
  • Electric golf carts

Specific examples of our trial and counseling work range from litigation of highly-publicized cases to matters in which we were able to terminate our clients’ involvement early and with no hint of broader exposure. They include:

  • Served as national counsel to a major manufacturer of electrical components and equipment, handling significant commercial and personal injury cases around the country and supervising local counsel handling smaller cases
  • Managed the investigation, development of an engineering solution, and worldwide implementation of a product replacement program that affected more than 10 million products sold by a major home electronics manufacturer
  • Defended a component supplier of an air separation unit that was the primary target in an industrial explosion that caused serious personal injury and more than $30 million in property damage. Summary judgment was obtained on behalf on our client
  • Served as national counsel for a major bicycle manufacturer coordinating their product liability litigation and recalls throughout the United States
  • Managed the defense of two major manufacturers of asbestos-containing products in more than 2,500 personal injury and wrongful death claims filed throughout the state of Washington
  • Successfully represented a component supplier in connection with a large industrial explosion and fire that caused multiple fatalities and injuries and more than $1 billion in property damages
  • Represented a prominent U.S. manufacturer in defending against a multi-million dollar product liability claim, arising from loss by fire in Alaskan waters of one of the largest American fish processing vessels
  • Designed and implemented a risk management, remediation and defense program to foreclose massive product liability litigation against an international manufacturer
  • Defended interrelated product liability cases against an international manufacturer of commercial roofing materials and its U.S. subsidiary, designing and implementing a risk management and remediation program that foreclosed massive product liability litigation
  • Defended the manufacturer and two alleged successors of rail car door components that broke and caused severe injuries to the plaintiff, including paralysis. Other defendants in the suit participated in a $1.2 million settlement; our clients were dismissed on summary judgment shortly before trial
  • Defended pesticide manufacturers against personal injury and property damage claims arising from allegations that their products contaminated ground and drinking water