Award Chambers & Partners

America's Leading Lawyers for Business 2006: Products Liability

Chambers & Partners has compiled their independent and objective list of America's Leading Lawyers for Business based on comments gathered from thousands of interviews with clients and lawyers from Maine to Hawaii. This guide -- which is designed to reflect market opinion -- contains a view of the firms and attorneys who are considered leaders in their field.

In Chambers' 2006 review of national legal talent in the area of "Products Liability," our Firm and our lawyers are listed among the best in the country.

Chambers' comments:

National Ranking:  1

The Firm: "Good and extremely aggressive in court," this firm's products liability and mass tort attorneys are standard bearers for an illustrious litigation practice that enjoys a reputation as one of the best in the USA.  Observers were particularly complimentary about matters conducted from the Chicago office.  Customarily retained in bet-the-company situations, team members demonstrate what one client identified as Kirkland's "philosophy of litigation," which emphasizes "speed of response, pragmatism and a single-minded commitment to success." The group has mined a rich seam of work in recent years, involving itself in complex disputes relating to breast implants, asbestos and tobacco.  Peers highlight its virtuoso performance on behalf of Brown & Williamson Tobacco in United States v Philip Morris USA, the federal government's $280 million RICO suit against the tobacco industry. The firm's scene-stealing appearances in cases with far-reaching implications extend to the asbestos arena where it has been instrumental in restructuring litigation and appellate procedures. The group also represents key players in the pharmaceutical industry. It obtained summary judgment for Abbott Laboratories in a series of individual and class action lawsuits alleging that Meridia, a drug used in the treatment of obesity, was responsible for plaintiffs' cardiovascular disease. Team members have also been centrally involved in litigation relating to the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. Renowned for the influx of "quality people" who pass through its doors and the "terrific training" they receive, the firm's synonymy with cases of this magnitude seems assured for years to come.

The Lawyers: Very few attorneys currently practicing have made the same impact on the shifting plates of the legal landscape as David Bernick, a lawyer whose "name you hear over and over again." Responsible for the administration of the general commercial litigation practice, he has focused on mass tort matters since the 1980's. Competitors laud his knowledge of complex medical and damage modeling issues and happily concede that he displays a "remarkable ability to get his arms around the science, filter the details and apply it in the best possible way." Closely associated with tobacco and asbestos litigation, he took the lead in the Brown & Williamson government lawsuit. Onlookers ascribe his high success rate to exemplary people skills: he "gets to the heart of what makes juries tick, presenting arguments in a clear and comprehensible manner." A variety of sources agree that "bright and capable" Stephen Patton's key role in the Sanders v Lockyer tobacco litigation has guaranteed him an enviable place on the product liability map. He and Andrew McGaan represented Brown & Williamson in this case, which pivoted on claims that the $206 billion Master Settlement Agreement between the company, three other cigarette manufacturers and the attorney general was an illegal output cartel violating federal antitrust laws.

Clients/Work Highlights: In other matters, the firm achieved a complete defense verdict for GM in highly publicized litigation arising from the death of All-Pro linebacker Derrick Thomas. This concerned alleged design defects in the roofs of Chevrolet Suburbans. Other clients include 3M; BP America; ARCO Products Company (now part of BP America); UNC Incorporated; Dow Corning; Motorola and UAL.

Reprinted with permission from Chambers USA, America’s Leading Lawyers for Business 2006 -