On the Pulse...Product Liability Practice Group Profile

On The Pulse...

For almost four decades, Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin has maintained an experienced and sophisticated group of trial attorneys involved in product liability litigation. The product liability landscape has evolved continually since first arriving on the scene in the 1970s. In the intervening forty years, Marshall Dennehey has successfully represented numerous product defendants as its defense attorneys have kept abreast of ever-changing legal theories, judicial viewpoints and, of course, evolving technology. The co-chairs of Marshall Dennehey's product group, Keith Heinold and Eric Weiss, have almost 80 years of combined experience in handling product liability cases for a myriad of domestic and international product manufacturers, involving virtually every conceivable type of consumer or industrial product.

The demands of a defense product liability practice are such that attorneys must make certain that they are up to date on the latest case law. Federal and state appellate and trial court decisions directly impact the defense of product liability defendants.

For example, the summer of 2011 produced the cases of J. McIntyre v. Nicastro and Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations v. Brown, wherein the United States Supreme Court opined regarding jurisdiction over product manufacturers in forums other than their home state. For years, the plaintiff's bar assumed that the mere introduction of a product into a forum state amounted to "doing business" under the International Shoe line of cases and, thus, that jurisdiction over the product manufacturer was available. Armed with the recent decisions of the United States Supreme Court, Marshall Dennehey's attorneys are now giving close scrutiny to the assertion that product sales amount to designating the chattel or a product as an agent for service of process. The plaintiff's bar looks for favorable forums to litigate their cases, and prior lower court and appellate court decisions had given the plaintiff's bar the advantage in forum selection. Due to the recent Supreme Court rulings, Marshall Dennehey attorneys are more well-equipped to combat this tactic and potentially avoid the verdict exposure of a hostile venue.

Marshall Dennehey's Product Liability practice group makes certain that its attorneys are keenly aware of changes in the legal landscape involving product liability. Its attorneys employ every avenue of defense available to their clients in order to successfully and fairly defend their products before a jury.

Marshall Dennehey's experienced and sophisticated trial attorneys prepare and handle a variety of complex product liability litigation, including the representation of major product manufacturers, distributors and other manufacturers through insurance carriers. The wide variety of cases and clients Marshall Dennehey represents evidences the level of experience and sophistication that our clients come to expect in their defense. Over the years, our attorneys have handled thousands of products liability matters, in all of the jurisdictions in which Marshall Dennehey's regional practice extends. The practice includes defense of accidents and alleged failures of all types, including, for example:

  • A broad variety of vehicle products including automobiles, motorcycles, recreational vehicles and trucks, as well as the component manufacturers and suppliers for those products.
  • Consumer goods and appliances.
  • Drug and dietary supplements. Combining its resources with its legal and medical malpractice groups, the Product Liability practice group defends cases involving pharmaceuticals, biologics, compounding pharmacies and medical devices.
  • Recreational equipment, including helmets and exercise equipment.
  • Industrial and manufacturing equipment of all sorts and all sizes, ranging from small generators to large electrical components that provide electric service to municipalities.
  • Building equipment and structures, including all the components involved therein.
  • Elevators and escalators.
  • Fire suppression equipment and systems.
  • Mold and contamination issues.
  • Asbestos and toxic tort claims.
  • Consumer products of all varieties.

Since the inception of toxic tort litigation, Marshall Dennehey has been at the forefront of the defense of asbestos claims and lawsuits in a wide geographic area. Dan Ryan, chairman of the Environmental & Toxic Tort practice group at Marshall Dennehey, directs asbestos litigation and other toxic tort litigation. Marshall Dennehey's product liability practice also includes multi-district litigation, class actions and commercial claims arising from allegedly poorly performing and/or defective products and/or their components.

Marshall Dennehey recognizes the advantage available to defense counsel by employing the resources of its clients, who have the best expertise pertaining to their product, and then supplementing that expertise with its extensive expert bank to select the appropriate forensic and/or technical expert. Our entire focus is directed at presenting the product to a jury in a persuasive and understandable setting so as to achieve a defense verdict.

The next decade will see further evolution and application of the Third Restatement of Torts, Product Liability, and Marshall Dennehey will be at the forefront of the generation and implementation of changing legal standards. We are poised and prepared to enhance the defense of product manufacturers into the future.


*Keith and Eric, both shareholders in our Philadelphia, Pennsylvania office, can be reached, respectively, at 215.575.2640 or kdheinold@mdwcg.com and 215.575.2676 or eaweiss@mdwcg.com.

Defense Digest, Volume 18, No. 1, March 2012