Product Liability

McGuireWoods has built a reputation for defending manufacturers of a broad range of products — in an equally wide range of litigation. We serve as regional and national trial counsel; defend and try high-exposure product injury cases in plaintiff-friendly jurisdictions; coordinate the defense of pattern litigation, multidistrict mass tort litigation and consumer fraud class actions, and oversee product recalls and Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) investigations.

Our trial lawyers have worked on behalf of product manufacturers in many of the nation’s most difficult jurisdictions, including those identified by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as “judicial hellholes.” Although we are prepared to defend clients before juries and on appeal in federal and state courts across the country, we also work closely with clients to develop strategies to reduce or avoid litigation. In this regard, we regularly provide counsel on risk management, product literature and labeling, product recalls, document retention and control, and other procedures that can reduce exposure to product liability risks.

In order to provide the most effective defense possible, we invest significant time and resources in developing a full understanding of the design, manufacture and use of the products we are asked to defend. This approach has helped us achieve positive results for manufacturers in a number of industries. For example, we have significant experience in the defense of product manufacturers against personal and property damage claims arising from fires and explosions occurring in residential, commercial and industrial structures. Our clients include manufacturers of home safety equipment, valves, sensors, and controls used in home and commercial heating and cooking appliances, and in industrial applications.

The automotive industry is a frequent target of product liability litigation. We regularly defend automotive manufacturers in cases involving a range of plaintiff strategies, including sophisticated defect theories. Our automotive products liability team handles cases involving passenger cars, light trucks, sport utility vehicles, vans and motorcycles. We are national trial counsel to a leading U.S. automobile manufacturer, and have tried cases to favorable verdicts in numerous states.

We also have extensive experience defending some of the world’s leading power tool manufacturers, including serving as national trial counsel for more than 30 years to a large international outdoor power tool manufacturer. We have defended claims of personal injury or property damage allegedly resulting from the use of power tools in all 50 states, in dozens of trades and industries, and originating from many different circumstances — from fire and explosion; reactive and dynamic force; and exposure to benzene, silica, carbon monoxide, heavy metals, asbestos or other toxins. We also represent clients in claims arising from simple operator error and misuse of the tools or equipment.

In addition to our extensive trial record, McGuireWoods has broad experience representing clients on every aspect of insurance coverage and recoveries, from advice on appropriate coverage and risk management strategies to assistance with claims processing and negotiation, and arbitration and litigation of coverage matters. We have developed particular strength in the areas of “batch,” aggregate stop-loss orders, and other high-excess policies that cover a company’s aggregated product liability losses.

Experience

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    World-class academic and health care system

    Representation of a world-class academic and health care system arising from alleged exposure of thousands of surgical patients to a contaminated cleaning agent used on surgical instruments.

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    Transportation company

    Tried wrongful death claim in Georgia to defense verdict. Obtained dismissal of negligent hire and entrustment claims on basis of federal preemption of specific claims by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.

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    North American packaged foods company

    Representation of a food manufacturing facility owner in connection with an on-site gas explosion resulting in multiple deaths and injuries.

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    Leading global provider of components, systems and services used in heating, air conditioning, commercial cooking/refrigeration, and residential thermostat products

    National trial and coordinating counsel for a leading global provider of components, systems and services used in heating, air conditioning, commercial cooking/refrigeration, and residential thermostat products.

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    New York Court of Appeals upholds disposal of $11 million jury verdict

    In re New York city Asbestos Litigation, 48 N.Y.S.3d 365 (N.Y. 1st App. Div. 2017). McGuireWoods secured entry of judgment notwithstanding the verdict, persuading the trial court to throw out an $11 million verdict against Ford in an asbestos mesothelioma case. In a 3-1 decision, the New York Appellate Division affirmed, holding that that the testimony of the plaintiffs’ expert witnesses on causation failed to meet the admissibility requirements for cases involving alleged exposure to toxic substances. This closely watched case involved the first application of New York’s heightened admissibility standards in an asbestos case.

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