litigation

Product Liability and Mass Torts

Nationally-Recognized Leaders in Product Liability and Mass Tort Litigation

Clients across a broad spectrum of industries turn to Dechert when facing their most complex mass litigations

We have a long track record of helping clients successfully navigate and resolve their toughest product liability and consumer class action matters. Our award-winning litigators consistently earn the highest accolades as proven mass tort case defense specialists. This year alone, we were named “Practice Group of the Year” for Product Liability by Law360, “Litigation Department of the Year for Product Liability” by New York Law Journal, and a finalist for “Products Liability Department of the Year” by American Lawyer

Our recent work has included serving as lead counsel for Pfizer in securing dismissals of entire federal MDLs including thousands of cases as a result of successful Daubert and summary judgment motions and successfully defending those victories on appeal in the Third Circuit (In re Zoloft) and Fourth Circuit (In re Lipitor). We also serve as lead national, trial, and settlement counsel for Purdue Pharma in the national opioid litigation – one of the largest and most complex civil litigations in U.S. history. 

Deep Experience Across Diverse Sectors

We have successfully defended thousands of individual cases and consumer class actions in all 50 states and in federal courts, including in many cases brought by state attorneys general.

Our lawyers represent clients in mass tort cases involving:

  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Medical devices
  • Asbestos
  • Talc
  • Chemicals (such as DDT, PCBs, dioxin, PFOA, PFOS, and lead)
  • Automotive parts
  • Agriculture products (including genetically modified corn)
  • Foods
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Technology
  • Automobiles
  • Consumer products (including computers and cell phones)
  • Tobacco products
  • Building materials

We have expertise addressing personal injury, toxic exposure, consumer fraud, punitive damages, and medical monitoring class claims as well as cases brought by attorneys general and local governments asserting public nuisance, RICO, and state law conspiracy claims. We also advise clients on federal and state regulatory matters, including warnings and recall issues, and help our clients mitigate litigation risks.

Our mass tort defense lawyers are adept at coordinating federal and state court cases around the country and guiding clients through large-scale litigations and crises, vigorously advocating for them on multiple fronts and helping them proactively address challenges to their business reputations. Courts regularly appoint us to serve in leadership roles in federal MDLs and analogous state coordinated actions. 

We know what the mass tort litigation process involves, including how long cases take and how to build winning trial records. Our lawyers have won jury verdicts in courts around the country. For cases that do not get to trial, we are highly skilled at advising clients on comprehensive resolution strategies that globally resolve mass litigations. We excel at working with clients, opposing counsel, courts, government entities, and other stakeholders to resolve the most challenging lawsuits. Clients have selected our lawyers to negotiate many of the highest value mass tort resolutions, including those relating to breast implants, hormone replacement, football and concussions, and opioids.

Strategic Leadership and Creative Thinking

From day one, our product liability and mass tort defense lawyers provide clients with comprehensive and long-view strategic guidance that enables them to make the tactical decisions that can positively shape their cases. Whether partnering with a client at a mass tort litigation’s start or coming in mid-crisis, what sets us apart is our ability to think strategically at every turn and anticipate how opposing counsel and courts will respond. We consider clients’ needs holistically and help them anticipate and successfully address the most contentious issues – from spearheading defenses in complex disputes to protecting companies and their boards from challenges by shareholders to coordinating litigation decisions with a client’s regulatory and securities requirements.

A Deep Bench 

Other firms may have a few strong leaders, but what sets Dechert apart is the depth, breadth, and history of our team. Many of us have worked together for decades, and we are able to harness the wide range of expertise in our product liability and mass tort defense group to proactively address clients’ multifaceted legal, business, and communication needs in real time. Our agile and diverse team is highly respected by our peers, and we are able to staff cases with a deep roster of experienced lawyers with a proven commitment to client service.  

Science and Experts

Product liability cases often turn on the science and the admissibility of expert testimony on threshold legal issues such as causation. The importance of having a legal team that is fluent in the science, understands its complexities and nuances, presents it in an understandable way, and appreciates how the scientific issues intersect with the law, is paramount.  We have served as national counsel and led science teams in litigations involving complex scientific issues in federal and state courts. From identifying and working with leading experts in their respective fields, to cross-examining our adversaries’ experts, and arguing and winning Daubert and Frye motions, our team is well-equipped to handle cases with the most challenging scientific issues.

Most recently, our team led the effort in two major federal MDLs where we successfully excluded the plaintiffs’ causation experts and obtained summary judgment in all cases – without a single case going to trial. See In re Lipitor (Atorvastatin Calcium) Mktg., Sales Practices & Prod. Liab. Litig. (No II) MDL 2502, 892 F.3d 624 (4th Cir. 2018); In re Zoloft (Sertraline Hydrochloride) Prod. Liab. Litig., 858 F.3d 787 (3d Cir. 2017); In re: Zoloft (Sertraline Hydrochloride) Prod. Liab. Litig., 2015 WL 7776911 (E.D. Pa. 2015); In re Zoloft (Sertraline Hydrochloride) Prod. Liab. Litig., 26 F. Supp. 3d 449 (E.D. Pa. 2014).

Environmental Torts

Our lawyers have served as national coordinating counsel in some of the most important environmental tort cases in the country, including high-profile litigations involving PFOA/PFOS, dioxin, PCBs, genetically modified corn, ethylene oxide, MTBE, DDT, talc, and asbestos. We currently serve as national lead defense counsel to a defendant involved in mass tort lawsuits filed across multiple jurisdictions alleging drinking water contamination arising from the processing of PFOA. In addition, the Dechert team serves as counsel to a chemical company in mass tort litigation in New York alleging that chemicals from multiple landfills, including the Love Canal in Niagara Falls, have migrated to homes and groundwater. We also represent a major cosmetic company in talc cases nationwide.

Punitive Damages and Appellate Successes

In State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. v. Campbell, 538 U.S. 408 (2003), the leading U.S. Supreme Court case on punitive damages, we successfully persuaded the Court to vacate as unconstitutional a $145 million punitive damages award against State Farm. The Court held that as a general rule, a punitive damages award should not exceed a 9:1 ratio to compensatory damages and that where the compensatory award is substantial, a punitive damages award “at or near the amount of compensatory damages” may be all that is constitutionally permitted. The Court also adopted the principle that a punitive damages award may not be based on conduct that did not involve the plaintiff.

We continue to build on our victory in Campbell and represent numerous companies in challenging punitive damages awards in federal and state appellate courts. We also advise companies on how to minimize the risk of large punitive awards and establish a strong record for appeal.

Dechert attorneys also have significant appellate experience in environmental and other tort matters, including securing U.S. Supreme Court precedent on medical monitoring claims and leading appellate decisions on scientific issues, including dose, statistical significance, and clinical and animal studies.

Recent Awards and Accolades

  • "Plenty of firms have strong leaders, but very few have such a lengthy list of senior lawyers with experience at the highest level—that’s unusual and sets Dechert apart.” — New York Law Journal Litigation Department of the Year, Products Liability 2019

  • Highly regarded in the pharmaceutical space, Dechert LLP is particularly experienced in handling product liability, mass tort and class actions for manufacturers and distributors.” — The Legal 500 US 2019
  • “What the team is known for: Houses impressive capabilities in the products liability and mass torts space, having bolstered its bench with a significant team of partners and associates that continues to attract new clients. Renowned for its expertise in toxic torts litigation and also possesses a wealth of experience representing major names in the pharmaceutical and chemical industries. Skillfully coordinates major multidistrict product liability litigation as well as offering notable prowess in appellate matters.” — Chambers USA 2019
  • “Clients note: ‘They are really knowledgeable about the subject matter, are good with litigation strategy and keep us up to speed. They maintain good relationships with clients and help guide us through business issues.’” — Chambers USA 2019
  • “Racking up defense wins in some of the year's most complex and far-reaching product liability cases and plunging into the nationwide multidistrict opioid litigation, Dechert LLP has earned a place as one of Law360's Product Liability Groups of the Year.” — Law360 Product Liability Group of The Year
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