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Products Liability & Mass Torts

Miles & Stockbridge's products liability and mass tort practice includes trial and appellate counsel, regulatory representation and risk-management advice for a broad range of manufacturing, real estate, professional services and other clients. We focus on defense representation in the mid-Atlantic region, but have litigated matters for clients from coast to coast.  The concerns of our clients involve disputes that can threaten the future of entire product lines, or of the business itself. Our objective in every matter is to combine vigorous courtroom advocacy with solid technical knowledge and innovative defense strategies to defend our clients and ensure their business objectives.

In addition to litigation, our products liability and mass tort practice involves effective risk management counsel.  For example, our insurance and risk-management lawyers perform risk assessments and liability policy audits for clients to advise them proactively on coverage and define the limits and extent of their coverage if they are sued. We also undertake forensic policy investigations to obtain insurance coverage for clients in connection with mass tort and environmental claims.  As part of our counsel on regulatory compliance with the Consumer Product Safety Commission and other federal agencies, we advise on such proactive measures as advisory filings on litigation results, voluntary product recalls, and effective product warning labels.

Products Liability

Our products liability lawyers have a strong national reputation for product liability defense that is based in part on the breadth of our product experience.  We act as national products liability counsel for Stanley Black & Decker, one of the world's largest manufacturers of power tools and small electrical appliances, and represent a number of other household appliance makers. We supervise hundreds of cases and try significant cases for catastrophic claims, including electrical injury cases, from coast to coast. Our clients also include industrial machinery manufacturers, manufacturers of pharmaceuticals and medical devices, and a variety of consumer product manufacturers.

The national reputation of our products liability practice is bolstered by our attorneys’ aggressive and effective approach to product liability litigation defense, which is the foundation of our practice. But, when it is in the best interests of our clients, we skillfully pursue dispute resolution through arbitration and mediation.  We have won defense verdicts and summary judgment dismissals and secured favorable settlements in even the most complex and emotional liability cases. And, in today's high profile regulatory environment, we combine our technical product knowledge with our extensive experience with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and other agencies to evaluate product safety issues and act appropriately, on a global basis if necessary.  We have supervised dozens of recalls required by the Consumer Product Safety Act, and have assisted our clients in recalling products sold worldwide.

Our lawyers also consistently use a thorough understanding of the Daubert rules regarding expert testimony to protect our clients from pseudoscientific allegations and attack the claims of plaintiffs' experts, while relying on the effective defense provided by our own network of expert witnesses to structure cases for summary judgment moptions. We are nationally recognized for our in-depth skill at fire litigation defense, having established national precedent on preservation of fire scenes for defense investigation. We are also known for working with our experts to create scientific defenses based on materials and forensic science; chemistry and physics analysis; mathematical modeling; and similar techniques.

Mass Torts

Mass torts are often complex and involve various parties, numerous jurisdictions and events occurring over years. Our mass tort lawyers are dominant in such matters in the mid-Atlantic region because of the critical advantage provided by our familiarity with local, state, and federal courts and governments. Our regional mass tort practice is unsurpassed. We also regularly handle on a nationwide basis individual claims, mass consolidations of "pattern" tort litigation, and environmental exposure clusters involving thousands of cases pending in numerous jurisdictions. These matters involve claims of exposures to such toxic substances as asbestos, mold, silica, vinyl chloride, benzene, lead, nickel, chemical solvents, volatile organic compounds and PCBs. We also defend class actions involving product liability, civil RICO claims, unfair trade practices, consumer protection, "sick building" and medical monitoring claims across the country.

Although every mass tort matter may involve "bet the company" risks, the experience of our mass tort lawyers with major cases and complex issues gives us the necessary perspective to develop a case strategy tailored to the many variables of such matters. By presenting plaintiffs' counsel with a credible trial threat, backed at every stage in the litigation by experience, tenacity and thoroughness, we are often able to obtain favorable resolutions. Through discovery and at trial, we rely on our relationships with nationally renowned technical, scientific and medical experts. Our thorough understanding of the rules and procedures regulating expert testimony allows us to protect our clients from scientifically unfounded claims and unqualified plaintiffs' experts.

We also use our substantial experience with "sick building" cases to assess indoor environmental conditions and advise building owners and managers on procedures to handle complaints and take remedial actions before claims mushroom into class actions. Our lawyers regularly investigate and reconstruct information, documents and witnesses connected with discontinued or divested product lines. Building on our experience in defending mass tort cases, we regularly assist clients in developing consistent, thoughtful and proactive litigation strategies. We work to recognize and avoid the potentially catastrophic consequences of inconsistent discovery and defense tactics when similar claims are being defended in numerous jurisdictions.

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