Toxic Tort and Product Liability
Recent years have seen an explosion of toxic tort and product liability claims brought by innovative plaintiffs’ counsel against industries as diverse as tobacco, lead paint, oil, petrochemicals, pesticides and gun companies. Huge money judgments, an increasingly sophisticated plaintiffs’ bar and inadequate tort reform all but guarantee the continued proliferation of such lawsuits.
Beveridge & Diamond, P.C. has an extensive practice defending its corporate clients in these toxic tort and product liability matters. Combining our litigation and trial practice with a fluency in scientific and technical matters gained from our regulatory practice, we have won defense judgments from judges and juries around the country. Drawing on our relationships with highly-credentialed experts in numerous disciplines, we also routinely challenge the admissibility of plaintiffs’ expert evidence under Daubert
and state analogs. We work to minimize legal costs and disruption of our clients’ business operations and have won the dismissal of many of these cases before trial.
Our litigators have decades of experience in all aspects of toxic tort and product liability litigation. This includes successfully representing our clients’ interests in the full range of pretrial proceedings, including discovery practice and preliminary injunctive relief proceedings, and through trials. We represent clients in such matters filed in both federal and state courts throughout the United States. Many of the cases are class actions.
Our work is often on behalf of manufacturers or users of products that are under attack in cases where the successful defense of the product is of critical importance to the client’s business. We also represent clients in similar cases that arise from historic disposal of chemicals, such as MTBE, PCE, pesticides and dioxins. Our experience includes successful defense of alleged claims for health effects, such as cancer, and for medical monitoring, as well as property claims. In addition to product defect and failure to warn claims, the cases also typically include allegations of negligence, intentional torts, nuisance, trespass and alleged violations of state consumer protection and unfair competition statutes.
- We are currently national counsel for a major oil company defending it in numerous cases, including a federal multidistrict litigation, brought by public water authorities and private well owners who allege that our client and other petroleum refiners were responsible for contaminating wells with the gasoline additive MTBE.
- We recently represented a major oil refiner in a statewide putative class action in Florida alleging damage to boats from ethanol in gasoline. After the court denied class certification, the case settled for a nominal amount.
- We are counsel for a national chemical manufacturer in several cases in California state court where public entities or private well owners have alleged that our client and other manufacturers and distributors of perchloroethylene are responsible for soil and groundwater contamination. In the case brought by the City of Modesto, we secured a favorable outcome after the first two phases of trial, eliminating future compensatory damages and punitive damages against our client at certain sites. Last year, we obtained a complete defense victory in the third phase of trial on the remaining sites after a six month toxic tort jury trial.
- We successfully defended two large companies in a lawsuit in which the Water Authority of Western Nassau County, New York alleged that our clients were responsible for volatile organic compounds that had migrated into the Water Authority’s well water.
- We successfully defended a major U.S. corporation in a wrongful death suit that alleged that biosolids applied on a farm caused toxic emissions that caused the death of a nearby resident.
- We successfully defended a major chemical company against claims that an elevator maintenance worker contracted several lung related diseases through exposure to carbon dust.
- We won the dismissal of a nationwide class action by a group of water treatment facilities that alleged that our client’s herbicide had contaminated their water supplies. Iberville Parish Waterworks, Dist. No. 3 v. Novartis Crop Protection, Inc.
, 45 F. Supp. 2d 934 (S.D. Ala. 1999), aff’d
, 204 F.3d 1122 (11th Cir. 1999).
- After discovery, we convinced plaintiffs to dismiss their nationwide class action alleging injury from occupational exposure to a widely-used herbicide.
- In a suit alleging lead-based paint poisoning, we obtained a favorable settlement and full insurance coverage after challenging the plaintiff’s case in discovery. Dobbs v. Lustine Realty
(D.C. Super. Ct. 2002).
- After a trial, we won the dismissal of all claims by New York State, Suffolk County, New York, and the Suffolk County Water Authority alleging threats to human health from a herbicidal by-product that leached into the aquifer from which much of Long Island’s population gets its drinking water. New York
v. Fermenta ASC Corp.
, 630 N.Y.S.2d 884 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 1995), aff’d
, 656 N.Y.S.2d 342 (N.Y. App. Div. 1997).
- We won a defense jury verdict in a class action suit by residents of an apartment complex against a terminal that cleaned and maintained chemical trucks.
- In a product liability case alleging serious bodily injury in connection with a 78,000-pound excavator manufactured by our client, we won a ruling striking the plaintiff’s demand for a jury trial. We then prevailed at trial with a decision that the excavator was not defectively designed. Freiere v. Koehring Cranes Co.
, 1997 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7228 (S.D.N.Y. 1997).
- We won the dismissal of a multi-million dollar products liability case alleging that the defendant manufacturers fraudulently misrepresented and failed to disclose to and warn plaintiffs of the risks associated with the electrical equipment defendants sold to plaintiffs.
- In a multi-district, multi-million dollar class action toxic tort and CERCLA case, we won summary judgment dismissing the case before answering and before the case was consolidated in plaintiffs’ selected forum. McDermott Inc. v. Southdown, Inc.
- We won a verdict dismissing an asbestos wrongful death suit that had been brought by the estate of a former shipyard worker diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, a virulent cancer of the lining of the lungs. The jury found that the estate had not proved that the decedent was exposed to asbestos from our client’s products. The verdict was affirmed on appeal.