Tort and Product Liability

The lawyers in our tort and product liability practice have substantial experience in representing clients in a broad range of industries facing claims of property damage, personal injury or wrongful death arising from products they have sold, distributed or manufactured. In particular, our product liability litigators have served as coordinating counsel throughout North America for international manufacturers exposed to claims alleged to have been caused by their electrical products.

In addition, we have extensive experience defending clients in construction-related product liability litigation. A significant part of the firm's product liability experience has involved the defense of clients sued in environmental and "toxic tort" litigation, including clients who have faced significant asbestos claims arising from products the clients – or their predecessors – sold or manufactured. Products liability litigation is multi-faceted and requires a multi-disciplinary approach.

Our product liability lawyers have experience in coordinating the many complicated aspects of significant litigation in these areas: managing complex insurance issues, seeking indemnification and/or contribution from other potentially responsible parties such as component suppliers or previous owners of manufacturing facilities, and ensuring compliance with statutory reporting obligations and disclosure requirements.

Examples of our representative experience and cases involving products liability include:

  • Lighting. The firm serves as coordinating counsel for product liability claims brought against a multinational firm arising out of fires allegedly caused by the firm’s lighting products. Our lawyers frequently work, in that connection, with experts in handling scene investigations, forensic testing and analysis, fire cause and origin, materials science, electrical engineering and accident reconstruction. These claims have occurred throughout North America and a number have involved claims of damages that exceed $50 million. The firm has also represented affiliates of the client in defending fire claims allegedly caused by defective ballasts.
  • Heating. Robinson Bradshaw has served as lead national counsel for claims brought against a subsidiary of a public company ($5 billion annual revenue) arising out of certain of its heating products. In this connection, our lawyers have worked closely with fire science, electrical and metallurgical experts, participated in numerous product inspections, and represented the client in negotiations regarding protocols for both destructive and nondestructive testing, including extensive SEM work. These cases have included property damage, personal injury and wrongful death.
  • Medical Products/Devices. Our lawyers have worked with a number of different and varied clients facing product-related claims in the medical and health fields. The firm serves as general counsel for a leading provider of microwave systems and solutions for laboratory applications, and assists the client in analyzing and defending claims arising from its products. We have handled numerous lawsuits against an international firm that is engaged in the development, production and sale of medicines derived from human proteins. In addition, we have assisted a public company with a claim that one of its valves failed, causing hot water to be released in a patient treatment area. The firm has similarly represented a global specialty pharmaceutical and medication delivery company in handling multi-million dollar claims arising from the alleged performance failures of its products. For many years, we have served as general counsel for a public company engaged in performing contract research services, as well as the supply of pharmaceutical products, and handled numerous claims arising out of services performed by the client.
  • Building Products. Robinson Bradshaw has assisted a national manufacturing company, which has experienced significant claims alleging that its product arced and caused fires to residential buildings. Several of these claims exceed $1 million and the potential retrofit claims are substantial. Our lawyers have advised the client with regard to selection of experts, establishment of a protocol for site examination, and analysis of risks and strategic issues. The claims in these cases arise in several different states.
  • Industrial Products. The firm serves as national counsel for a North Carolina-based manufacturer of industrial gauges, valves and actuators. We also serve as national coordinating counsel for a company engaged in the distribution and sale of commercial perimeter security systems. Our lawyers regularly coordinate with local counsel, insurers and experts in assuring that the client is properly and vigorously defended in jurisdictions in which claims have been brought relating to these industrial products.
  • Wrongful Death and Personal Injury. Our litigators have extensive experience in handling significant personal injury and wrongful death claims on behalf of manufacturers of products. Examples include: representation of national retailer arising out of severe burns suffered by a minor using portable gasoline container; representation of successor to manufacturer of corn foraging equipment following death of a farmer while using equipment; representation of boiler manufacturer following carbon monoxide deaths of married couple; and defense of heater manufacturer following fire that claimed the lives of two small children.