On the Pulse...Product Liability Practice Group Profile

At first, product liability law seems simple. Was the product safe? Did some feature of the product, or the absence of a feature, cause the plaintiff's injury? Plaintiffs' counsel always attempt to take advantage of this apparent simplicity when they present their cases. They hire an "expert" and seek to convince a jury that an inexpensive change in the product's design or manufacture, or a different warning, would have saved their clients from disaster. They ask, why not do it if it would make the product safer? However, determining what is "safe" is not that simple. Sometimes it is like asking, "If I can run there in 30 seconds, am I fast?" The answer to that question depends on where "there" is.

If you are involved in product litigation, you know this challenge. The attorneys of Marshall, Dennehey, Warner, Coleman & Goggin's Product Liability Practice Group know that challenge as well, and know how to handle it. Marshall, Dennehey has experienced and sophisticated trial attorneys prepared to handle complex product liability litigation. Our product liability attorneys have represented major product manufacturers, as self-insureds and through their insurance carriers, for many years. The types of cases we handle and the clients we represent speak volumes about the depth of experience of our attorneys and the quality of their work. Over the years, our attorneys have handled thousands of product liability matters involving accidents, fires, and alleged failures of all types, including:   

  1. Vehicular products involving passenger vehicles, trucks, buses, motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, and recreation vehicles for final product manufacturers as well as a broad spectrum of component and systems suppliers.
  2. Consumer goods and appliances, including refrigerators, dishwashers, ranges, coffee makers, toasters, toys, fans, power and hand tools, lighters, bottles, and detergents.
  3. Drugs and dietary supplements, including Ephedra and Phenfen.
  4. Medical devices, including monitoring equipment, catheters, x-ray tables and machines, latex gloves, disinfecting products, intravenous delivery devices, and contact lenses.
  5. Recreational equipment, including boats, boating accessories and motors, football helmets, trampolines, exercise equipment, swimming pools, camping equipment, and propane stoves.
  6. Industrial and manufacturing equipment, including printing presses, punch presses, laves, drive systems, transformers, generators, turbines, and electrical switching equipment.
  7. Building equipment and structures, including roofing material, HVAC, electrical components, flooring, windows, plumbing, tools, scissor lifts, bulldozers, front end loaders, forklifts, scaffolding, and boom lifts.
  8. Elevators and escalators.
  9. Fire suppression equipment and systems, including heat detection systems, smoke detector systems, and fire alarm panels.
  10. Mold and contamination issues.
  11. Food contamination.
  12. Furniture, including office furniture, chair collapses, furniture stability, assembly, and display issues.

Our product liability attorneys not only have been involved in individual cases, but they have served as national and regional counsel for our clients. In addition, we have defended numerous class actions, multi-district litigation, and other complex litigation arising from product liability matters. Our clients also ask us to provide pre-litigation advice, including investigation, advice on potential product recalls, and working with the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Food and Drug Administration.

Marshall, Dennehey's attorneys possess both technical knowledge and legal expertise in the subject matter. We take advantage of the fact that our own clients often have the best expertise concerning the product in question and supplement that with a selection of qualified outside expert witnesses. We work closely with our clients and our expert witnesses to develop a defense which is understandable to a jury. Marshall, Dennehey's attorneys also utilize today's available technologies in discovery, trial, and alternative dispute resolution settings.

Our considerable expertise is provided within the context of efficient and cost-effective representation. Marshall, Dennehey's regional office structure provides each client with options concerning how to defend a particular case, depending upon the client's needs. Cases can be handled by our experienced attorneys in the local office where the suit has been filed. If the client desires a particular attorney from a different office to defend its interest, then the local offices can be utilized on routine aspects of the case for cost effectiveness and to provide local expertise. This also is true in matters which involve multiple jurisdictions or the importance of the issue extends beyond the individual case being litigated.

As with most areas of the law, product liability law is not static and remains ever evolving. The nuances of the law are particularly important. Specialized knowledge of these legal issues and these nuances can help turn what appears to be a difficult case into a successful result. Our practice group attorneys have this knowledge and experience. We present seminars to our clients and legal organizations and publish on important product liability issues. In addition, our attorneys belong to and participate in product liability professional organizations including the Product Liability Advisory Counsel, The Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel, Trial Attorneys of America, and the appropriate sections of the Defense Research Institute and The American Bar Association.

For further information, any questions about Marshall, Dennehey's product liability practice, or case referrals, please contact Keith D. Heinold at 215-575-2640, kdheinold@mdwcg.com or Eric A. Weiss, 215-575-2676, eaweiss@mdwcg.com.

*Keith is a shareholder in our Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, office and the Chair of our Product Liability Practice Group. He can be reached at (215) 575-2640 or kdheinold@mdwcg.com.  

Defense Digest, Vol. 15, No. 4, December 2009