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PRODUCT LIABILITY

Thompson Coburn’s product liability attorneys have successfully handled cases in almost every state and countless federal courts across the country, including outside the continental United States. We have handled class actions, attorney general investigations, and numerous other matters that involve product liability issues.

We frequently serve as national and regional counsel in litigation involving a variety of products and pattern litigation, including acting as coordinating counsel in multidistrict litigation. We have counseled manufacturers and sellers about conducting potential recalls, and assisted clients in both developing an effective recall strategy and working with the appropriate governmental agencies to implement that strategy. We have worked with clients on product development.  

We help clients evaluate and manage litigation risks, from pre-litigation counseling through alternative dispute resolution, trials, and appeals.  We work collaboratively with the client to understand every aspect of its product design, investigate alleged defects, and provide a robust, purposeful defense. We work directly with engineering, medical, and other technical experts in multiple disciplines to develop effective company defenses.  We have developed an extensive and nation-wide network of attorneys and experts around the country that we can call on to assist in navigating the risks associated with defending attacks on our client’s products.

In any product liability matter, effectively managing personnel, documentation, and electronic data is critical. Our group frequently works with the in-house electronic systems management team to handle documents and data of varying sizes.  By doing this work internally, we deliver to our clients the efficiencies and attention to detail they deserve.  

Products

We have defended lawsuits and claims across a wide range of fields and industries, including:

  • Automobiles
  • Automotive equipment
  • Trucks
  • Tires
  • Seat belts
  • Motors 
  • Electrical Equipment and Tools
  • Emergency warning systems
  • Alarm systems
  • All-terrain vehicles
  • Motorcycles
  • Scooters
  • Golf Carts
  • Boats
  • Personal Watercrafts
  • Lawn mowers 
  • Trains
  • Cranes
  • Loaders 
  • Forklifts
  • Scaffolds
  • Conveyors
  • Automatic Doors 
  • Power and Pneumatic Tools
  • Press brakes
  • Radial arm saws
  • Ladders 
  • Exercise Equipment
  • Firearms
  • Hunting Products
  • Furniture
  • Construction Equipment
  • Coal Mining Equipment
  • Flammable Vapors
  • Medical Devices
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Tobacco
  • Pesticides
  • Chemicals
  • Asbestos

Trial Results

Product liability/design defect/failure to warn (Texas State Court, Corpus Christie)

  • Plaintiff sued the designer, manufacturer and distributor of a utility vehicle after supposedly climbing onto the vehicle’s cargo bed and then falling out and getting injured when the bed allegedly tilted.  Plaintiff alleged that the vehicle was defective because it did not have an automatic slam latch and failed to warn of the claimed hazards involved.  He sought $6.5 million in lost earnings plus an equal amount for non-economic damages. 
  • The jury returned a defense verdict for our clients.

Product liability/design defect (Washington State Court, Tacoma) 

  • Plaintiffs sued the distributor of a personal watercraft after an explosion during operation of the craft.  The personal watercraft had been subject to two-fuel related recalls, both of which were admitted into evidence.
  • Plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury for $2.0 million in damages.  The jury returned a defense verdict for our client. 

Product Liability/Class Action (Missouri State Court, City of St. Louis)

  • In this class action seeking $1.5 billion in damages, plaintiffs alleged that a cigarette manufacturer deceived some 400,000 Missouri smokers about Lights cigarettes.  After 30 minutes of deliberation, a trial that lasted 39 days ended with a total defense verdict.

Product Liability/pharmaceutical (Missouri State Court, City of St. Louis)

  • We joined as co-counsel with a pharmaceutical company’s national counsel in obtaining a defense verdict on the first of several trials over birth defects claimed to have been caused by the use of an anti-depressant medication.

Product liability/wrongful death/design defect/failure to warn (California State Court, San Diego)

  • Plaintiffs filed a wrongful death action against the manufacturer and designer of a personal watercraft arising out of an accident on the Colorado River in Arizona after the personal watercraft collided with another boat.  The plaintiffs’ theory of the accident was that the craft was improperly designed because it lacked a braking mechanism and/or off throttle steering device to allow the operator to steer the craft after releasing the throttle.  The operator of the craft, who owned a business, was claimed to have been earning approximately $18 million a year at the time of the accident.  Plaintiffs sought economic damages of $200+ million as well as punitive and other damages.
  • The first trial ended in a hung jury after a 3-month trial.  In the retrial and after years of discovery (which included more than 50 depositions of witnesses from across the United States, Japan and Canada), the jury returned a defense verdict for our clients.

Product liability/wrongful death/design defect/failure to warn (U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia)

  • Plaintiffs filed a wrongful death action against the manufacturer and distributor of a personal watercraft after their son, who was floating on a raft when he was struck by a personal watercraft and died. The 14 year-old operator of the craft claimed that he was unable to steer the personal watercraft once he released the throttle. The plaintiffs’ theory of the accident was that the personal watercraft was improperly designed because it lacked a device to allow the operator to steer the craft after releasing the throttle.    
  • The jury returned a defense verdict for TC’s clients.

Product liability/design defect (Missouri State Court, Jefferson County)

  • Plaintiff, who suffered a serious injury from a nail that was embedded into his knee, filed this action against the manufacturer of pneumatic nail guns alleging negligence and strict liability for claimed defective design of the nail gun. 
  • The jury returned a defense verdict for our client.

Product Liability/personal injury and property damage from house fire (Missouri State Court, St. Louis County) 

  • Plaintiff, who suffered serious personal injury in a home fire, filed this action against a manufacturer and distributor of a smoke detector and alarm system claiming negligence in the installation and maintenance of the alarm system, and breach of contract for failure to monitor the system. 
  • The jury returned a defense verdict for our client.  The Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed the verdict.

Product Liability/Personal Injury (West Virginia State Court, Kanawha County)

  • We obtained a defense verdict for a cigarette manufacturer in a mass consolidation of more than 1,000 individual personal injury cases.

Product Liability/Personal Injury (Missouri State Court, City of St. Louis)

  • We obtained a defense verdict for a cigarette manufacturer in a lawsuit brought by Missouri hospitals seeking to recover costs of treating smokers.

Product Liability/Class Action (West Virginia State Court, Ohio County)

  • We obtained a defense verdict for a cigarette manufacturer in the first medical monitoring class action tried against members of the tobacco industry.

Represented a Fortune 500 equipment manufacturer in thousands of repetitive motion cases nationwide.  After we won the first two jury trials, the remainder of the cases resolved favorably.

We successfully defended our client in the longest jury trial in American history, a 65-plaintiff product liability/toxic tort case that was tried in notoriously plaintiff-friendly St. Clair County, Illinois.  Additionally, we successfully defended our client in one of the largest cases in American jurisprudence, a suit brought by the United States against the tobacco industry seeking $280 billion in damages. 

Early Resolution Through Dispositive Motions

Product liability/design defect/failure to warn (U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina)

  • Plaintiff sued the distributor of a personal watercraft claiming she was injured after falling off the back end of the craft.  In addition to strict liability claims, the plaintiff alleged failure to warn despite that she had not read the warning on the craft and was not wearing protective clothing.  After excluding the plaintiff’s expert opinion on the issue of warnings, the Court granted summary judgment on all issues.

Product liability/manufacturing defect/failure to warn (U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia)

  • Plaintiff sued the manufacturer and distributor of a motorcycle claiming he was injured due to a manufacturing defect with the voltage regulator.  The manufacturer had issued a recall that a defective voltage regulator in the motorcycle model could result in engine stalls during operation.  After getting the recall in the mail, the plaintiff filed suit alleging that the condition identified in the recall was what caused his accident, resulting in more than $2 million in medical expenses.
  • After extensive discovery, testing and expert analysis, our Daubert motions and motion for summary judgment were granted, and later affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. 

Product liability (Missouri Court of Appeals)

  • Plaintiff sued an automotive manufacturer claiming negligence and strict liability arising out of a rollover crash.  We successfully argued to the Court of Appeals that the trial court properly limited plaintiff’s proffer of claimed similar incidents in an attempt to establish the client’s knowledge of the alleged defect.  The defense verdict was affirmed in favor of the vehicle manufacturer.

Product liability/Class Action (U.S. District Court of South Carolina) 

  • Plaintiff filed a nationwide class action alleging exhaust system defects in diesel trucks.  After more than two years of extensive discovery, the plaintiffs moved to certify the class.  The court denied certification finding that the vehicle manufacturer had proven that the plaintiffs had not identified any common defect in the trucks as opposed to common vehicle systems.  The case was later dismissed.

Product liability/Class Action (U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan)

  • Plaintiff filed a nationwide class action alleging failure to timely recall vehicles having defective occupant restraint control modules that could cause inadvertent airbag deployment.  The court granted the vehicle manufacturer’s motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, rejecting the notion that diminished value can result from a delayed repair.  The dismissal was affirmed on appeal by the Sixth Circuit.

Product liability/Class Action (U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois) 

  • Plaintiff filed a nationwide class action against the manufacturer and distributor of motorcycles asserting violations of the Federal Odometer Act.  The plaintiff claimed that the odometers in each of the subject motorcycle models intentionally overstated the actual mileage of the motorcycle by up to ten percent.  The plaintiff sought actual damages, statutory damages, treble damages, attorneys’ fees, costs and punitive damages.  
  • After certifying a class, the court later granted our motion for summary judgment on all counts.  

Product Liability/wrongful death  (Missouri State Court, St. Louis County) 

  • Plaintiff filed a wrongful death action against the manufacturer of a wander alert system being used at a nursing home claiming that as a result of defective design and negligent installation, the decedent was able to exit a nursing home, and suffer injuries from a fall.
  • We obtained a summary judgment on all counts.

Product Liability/personal injury (Missouri State Court, Boone County) 

  • Plaintiffs filed this action against a manufacturer of automatic doors alleging that the doors closed on two customers, knocking them to the ground and causing injuries.  Plaintiffs claimed that the doors were defectively designed for failing to have an adequate fail-safe to prevent them from closing on someone in the threshold, and they also alleged negligent maintenance.
  • We obtained a summary judgment on all counts for this matter and two related cases alleging the same allegations with the automatic doors.

Product Liability/defective design (Illinois State Court, Williamson County) 

  • Plaintiff filed this action against a manufacturer of automatic doors alleging that a swinging door closed on her, knocking her to the ground and causing injuries. Plaintiff sued the general contractor who installed the door, and the general contractor brought in manufacturer of the door, seeking contribution and indemnity. 
  • We obtained a summary judgment on all counts for the door manufacturer. 

Product Liability/wrongful death (U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas) 

  • Plaintiff filed this action against the manufacturer of laser guided electronic warehouse pallet mover.  Plaintiff alleged that her husband was crushed by the vehicle after he fell in its path of travel.  Plaintiff’s liability theory was that the vehicle was defectively designed because it failed to adequately detect objects and persons while moving. 
  • We obtained a summary judgment on all counts.

Product Liability/design defect/failure to warn/manufacturing defect (U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona) 

  • Plaintiff filed this action against the manufacturer of a liquid pesticide alleging the canister leaked during application causing her to fall and shatter her leg. 
  • We obtained a summary judgment on all counts.

Product Liability/failure to warn (Alabama State Court, Clarke County) 

  • Plaintiff filed this action against the manufacturer of a pesticide alleging he suffered severe respiratory and other injuries caused by exposure to the pesticide. Plaintiff alleged that the labeling was inadequate in that it failed to warn him of the risks of exposure and failed to instruct him on how to avoid those risks.
  • We obtained a summary judgment on all counts based on preemption under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act.

Product Liability/design defect (U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York) 

  • Plaintiff filed this action against the manufacturer of a pesticide alleging it caused an explosion and fire in her apartment, resulting in severe burn and other injuries. Plaintiff alleged that the product was defectively designed because it contained a flammable propellant.
  • We obtained a summary judgment on all claims.

Product Liability/design defect/failure to warn (U.S. District Court for South Carolina) 

  • Plaintiff filed this action against the manufacturer of a pesticide alleging it caused a fire and explosion in her home.  Plaintiff alleged that the product was defectively designed because it contained a flammable propellant.  Plaintiff further alleged that the labeling was inadequate because it failed to warn of the risk of explosion and failed to instruct on how to avoid that risk.  
  • We obtained summary judgment on all counts based on preemption under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act and South Carolina law.   

Product Liability/defective design (Missouri State Court, Pulaski County)

  • Plaintiff filed this action against the designer of a convenience store canopy and drainage system alleging that as a result of defective/negligent design, water from the canopy was allowed to drain onto the areas where customers were filling cars, where it froze and created icy areas.
  • Motion to Dismiss granted as the canopy was not a “product” placed into commerce by our client.

Product Liability/design and manufacturing defects (Illinois State Court, Cook County) 

  • Plaintiff filed this action against the foreign manufacturer of an outdoor patio chair claiming it collapsed due to a structural defect.  Plaintiff suffered serious back injuries as a result of her fall. 
  • We obtained dismissal of the manufacturer for lack of personal jurisdiction.

News

Another win for Federal Signal as federal judge orders plaintiffs’ counsel to pay $127K in sanctions

Thompson Coburn continues to exclude plaintiffs’ expert witnesses in personal watercraft products liability litigation

Agribusiness professionals enjoy hands-on farm simulation at Thompson Coburn

Thompson Coburn helps Yamaha resolve significant injury cases

Judge Shaw helps Philip Morris defeat $1.5B class action case in 30 minutes

Silencing product liability claims against a siren manufacturer

25 Thompson Coburn attorneys recognized in 2015 Chambers USA

Jury throws out hearing loss claims against Federal Signal in Philadelphia

Intellectual property litigator Sam Watkins joins Thompson Coburn in Los Angeles

Congratulations to our 15 St. Louis ‘Lawyers of the Year’

112 Thompson Coburn attorneys featured in 2015 Best Lawyers list

Two partners named ‘2014 BTI Client Service All-Stars’

St. Louis Bar Foundation honors Paul Brown for program targeting ‘problem properties’

Kawasaki wins defense verdict in Jet Ski explosion suit

Thompson Coburn secures latest defense win for Federal Signal in product liability trial over sirens

Chicago judge tosses nationwide class action against Kawasaki

Partner Liz Blackwell named a 2013 Woman Worth Watching

Bob Wallace, Mike Minton publish article on NFL concussion litigation

Thompson Coburn tobacco victory named Missouri's ‘Top Defense Win of 2011’

Sue Werstak featured in Profiles in Diversity Journal as ‘Woman Worth Watching’

Carl Rowley named Legal Champion by Missouri Lawyers Media

Senior Counsel
Southern Illinois
618 236 3406

Tom defends major railroads and other corporations facing personal injury suits, primarily in the areas of FELA, product liability and medical malpractice.

Tom defends major railroads and other corporations facing personal injury s...

Tom Alvey, Jr.
Partner
St. Louis
314 552 6003

Gordon is a highly experienced trial attorney who has achieved significant courtroom wins for clients in cases involving commercial disputes, white collar criminal defens...

Gordon is a highly experienced trial attorney who has achieved significant ...

Gordon Ankney
Partner
St. Louis
314 552 6420

Liz represents consumer product manufacturers in high-stakes product liability and false advertising litigation in state and federal courts across the country.

Liz represents consumer product manufacturers in high-stakes product liabil...

Liz Blackwell
Partner
Los Angeles
310 282 9438

Clients know Julian as an experienced and highly effective litigator who finds creative and novel approaches to all of the cases he handles, without sacrificing efficienc...

Clients know Julian as an experienced and highly effective litigator who fi...

Julian Brew
Partner
Los Angeles
310 282 9418

As a real estate litigator with more than 30 years of experience, Jeff develops and executes highly effective litigation strategies for clients with all types of commerci...

As a real estate litigator with more than 30 years of experience, Jeff deve...

Jeff Brown
Counsel
Southern Illinois
618 236 3469

Crystal practices in the firm's railroad litigation area.

Crystal practices in the firm's railroad litigation area.

Crystal Campbell
Associate
St. Louis
314 552 6112

Sara defends clients in a variety of environmental litigation and regulatory enforcement matters.

Sara defends clients in a variety of environmental litigation and regulator...

Sara Chamberlain
Partner
St. Louis
314 552 6250

David's litigation practice encompasses a wide variety of complex commercial litigation, including the defense of manufacturers in product liability cases and the defense...

David's litigation practice encompasses a wide variety of complex commercia...

David Coffman
Partner
St. Louis
314 552 6551

Heather defends clients facing consumer products claims and commercial litigation.

Heather defends clients facing consumer products claims and comme...

Heather Counts
Partner
St. Louis
314 552 6139

Dan handles various types of complex litigation, including business, tort, product liability, intellectual property, and class action defense.

Dan handles various types of complex litigation, including business, tort, ...

Dan Cox
Senior Counsel
St. Louis
314 552 6024

Jim practices in the firm's litigation area with an emphasis on land-use litigation, environmental contamination and product liability defense.

Jim practices in the firm's litigation area with an emphasis on land-use li...

Jim Cox
Associate
St. Louis
314 552 6520

Lisa advocates for clients facing complex product liability and personal injury litigation.

Lisa advocates for clients facing complex product liability and personal in...

Lisa DeBord
Partner
St. Louis
314 552 6142

David is a lead trial lawyer with a track record of success across a diverse array of claims, including various types of construction and real estate disputes, business t...

David is a lead trial lawyer with a track record of success across a divers...

David Dick
Associate
Southern Illinois
618 236 3424

Misty represents companies facing litigation in high-risk venues across southern Illinois.

Misty represents companies facing litigation in high-risk venues across sou...

Misty Edwards
Partner
St. Louis
314 552 6038

A Co-Chair of the Intellectual Property Practice Group, Dean has extensive first chair trial experience, limiting his practice to intellectual property and commercial lit...

A Co-Chair of the Intellectual Property Practice Group, Dean has extensive ...

Dean Franklin
Partner
St. Louis
314 552 6146

Steve has successfully litigated a wide variety of matters for more than 25 years, the last 10 of which have focused on intellectual property.

Steve has successfully litigated a wide variety of matters for more than 25...

Steve Garlock
Partner
St. Louis
314 552 6040

Allan’s practice includes preparation and trial work in product liability, asbestos, carpal tunnel syndrome, and legal and medical malpractice.

Allan’s practice includes preparation and trial work in product liability, ...

Allan Goodloe
Partner
St. Louis
314 552 6046

Bill defends railroads facing personal injury litigation in high-risk venues across the Midwest.

Bill defends railroads facing personal injury litigation in high-risk venue...

Bill Hakes
Associate
St. Louis
314 552 6384

Ben primarily represents clients in complex tort, environmental, and personal injury matters.

Ben primarily represents clients in complex tort, environmental, and person...

Ben Harner
Counsel
St. Louis
314 552 6132

Trey has represented clients before state and federal courts in a wide variety of products liability, class action, business litigation and land-rights litigation matters...

Trey has represented clients before state and federal courts in a wide vari...

Trey Lawrence
Associate
Southern Illinois
618 236 3425

Erik practices in the Litigation Group, with an emphasis on products liability, toxic torts, and railroad litigation.

Erik practices in the Litigation Group, with an emphasis on products liabil...

Erik Lewis
Partner
St. Louis
314 552 6429

Jeff is a litigator and ag insider who works with the country's largest agribusinesses to develop effective litigation strategies on a national and global scale.

Jeff is a litigator and ag insider who works with the country's largest agr...

Jeff Masson
Partner
Southern Illinois
618 236 3467

Kevin is a litigation partner focusing in the areas of asbestos, toxic tort, personal injury, products liability, and railroad litigation.

Kevin is a litigation partner focusing in the areas of asbestos, toxic tort...

Kevin McGinley
Associate
Chicago
312 580 5035

Audrey is an associate in Business Litigation practice at Thompson Coburn.

Audrey is an associate in Business Litigation practice at Thompson Coburn.

Audrey Mense
Senior Counsel
St. Louis
314 552 6081

Mike has extensive experience in complex litigation, including products liability, RICO, toxic tort claims, and contract disputes.

Mike has extensive experience in complex litigation, including products lia...

Mike Minton
Partner
St. Louis
314 552 6421

Manoo serves as a strategist for high-stakes litigation, tapping his well-honed research and writing skills to craft motions and briefs that help clients navigate thorny ...

Manoo serves as a strategist for high-stakes litigation, tapping his well-h...

Manoo Mofidi
Partner
St. Louis
314 552 6084

Rick's litigation practice includes a wide range of matters, with emphasis in product liability, commercial litigation and maritime matters.

Rick's litigation practice includes a wide range of matters, with emphasis ...

Rick Mueller
Partner
St. Louis
314 552 6086

Jack tries complex cases involving intellectual property, product liability and commercial issues before various state and federal courts.

Jack tries complex cases involving intellectual property, product liability...

Jack Musgrave
Partner
St. Louis
314 552 6185

Carl has represented corporations in high-stakes litigation on a regional and national basis for over 25 years.

Carl has represented corporations in high-stakes litigation on a regional a...

Carl Pesce
Partner
Southern Illinois
618 236 3415

Kurt is experienced in the defense of personal injury and property damage litigation including FELA, trucking, product liability, class action and mass tort litigation.

Kurt is experienced in the defense of personal injury and property damage l...

Kurt Reitz
Partner
St. Louis
314 552 6100

Carl is a first-chair trial lawyer whose cases and verdicts have been covered by The National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, The New York Times, CNN, Bloomberg News, C...

Carl is a first-chair trial lawyer whose cases and verdicts have been cover...

Carl Rowley
Partner
St. Louis
314 552 6102

Bruce is co-chair of the firm's appellate practice and has participated in more than 60 appeals involving a diverse range of subjects, such as products liability, FELA, c...

Bruce is co-chair of the firm's appellate practice and has participated in ...

Bruce Ryder
Partner
St. Louis
314 552 6087

Retired Judge Booker Shaw brings clients valuable insight and perspective gained from his more than 25 years on the bench.

Retired Judge Booker Shaw brings clients valuable insight and perspective g...

Booker Shaw
Senior Counsel
Los Angeles
310 282 9429

Mitchell is an accomplished business and real estate litigator and counselor.

Mitchell is an accomplished business and real estate litigator and counselo...

Mitchell Stein
Senior Counsel
St. Louis
314 552 6110

Dave represents railroads and major manufacturers in environmental and occupational exposure litigation throughout the Midwest and across the country.

Dave represents railroads and major manufacturers in environmental and occu...

Dave Stratmann
Partner
Southern Illinois
618 236 3411

For nearly 20 years, Erick has defended product liability, toxic tort, and railroad injury cases in some of the most difficult jurisdictions in the country.

For nearly 20 years, Erick has defended product liability, toxic tort, and ...

Erick VanDorn
Partner
St. Louis
314 552 6115

Dudley handles commercial and product liability litigation.

Dudley handles commercial and product liability litigation.

Dudley Von Holt
Associate
Southern Illinois
618 236 3430

Ryan is a member of the Litigation group and practices in the areas of toxic tort, personal injury, products liability, and railroad litigation.

Ryan is a member of the Litigation group and practices in the areas of toxi...

Ryan Webb
Partner
St. Louis
314 552 6350

Sue represents product manufacturers facing high-exposure suits in courtrooms across the country.

Sue represents product manufacturers facing high-exposure suits in courtroo...

Sue Werstak
Partner
St. Louis
314 552 6458

Jason is a dynamic and highly effective litigator who develops and executes creative solutions to resolve product liability, personal injury, and commercial disputes in s...

Jason is a dynamic and highly effective litigator who develops and executes...

Jason Wheeler