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Sidley is consistently recognized as having one of the leading product liability and mass torts practices in the United States. With an extensive global presence and a strong domestic footprint, our group has played key roles in many of the most significant product liability and mass tort cases, including several of the largest complex multidistrict litigation (MDL) proceedings in history. We have decades of experience handling all claims associated with products, the facilities that manufacture them, and the companies that sell them. Clients from a variety of industries value our team’s ability to offer high-caliber and efficient client-focused work with a constant awareness of and sensitivity to their overall business objectives.

Our lawyers help clients manage litigation risk even before a lawsuit is filed. We regularly conduct pre-litigation counseling, risk assessments, and pre-launch, deep-dive risk analysis with the goal of minimizing pitfalls and providing the tools to mitigate challenges before they turn into litigation. As product liability lawsuits and recalls tend to have ramifications within the public sphere, we also employ calculated and coordinated crisis management strategies to manage internal and external effects, relationships, and perceptions.

“A deep bench noted for its expertise in the life sciences sector, having obtained a number of high-profile defense verdicts in this field... Draws on firmwide resources in civil litigation and regulatory enforcement to provide a full-service approach to complex product liability disputes.”
Chambers USA 2020

Contacts

Sidley has a diverse team of product liability and mass tort lawyers that comprise a core set of strengths:

  • Mass Tort/MDL Coordination and Leadership: Clients turn to us for their most important mass torts and class actions, often leading to multidistrict litigation. These include litigation involving blood products, birth control, blood thinners, diabetes medications, contrast agents, cholesterol medications, antifibrinolytics, antipsychotics, cardiac implants, hip implants, and other prescription drugs and medical devices. We also defend mass tort litigation involving automobile product liability, derailments, air crashes, industrial accidents, and toxic tort exposures. These matters are invariably complex, span years, and involve plaintiffs’ firms from around the country and the world. We are comfortable in all state and federal courts, as well as working with colleagues, co-counsel, and witnesses in non-U.S. venues.
  • Winning Trial Practice: We play lead roles at trial. Partners on our team have taken product liability and mass tort cases to trial across the United States.
  • Fact and Expert Development: Our product liability experience extends to a wide range of scientific, regulatory, and expert issues. Our strategic thinking has resulted in numerous successful depositions and many summary judgment and Daubert victories. We embrace the challenges of the complex scientific and medical issues and excel in developing the experts that will drive litigation themes.

“They know our business and our goals, and work collaboratively to help us attain those goals,” report clients.
Chambers USA 2019

  • Minimizing Risk: We help clients manage litigation risks in a number of ways, from pre-litigation counseling through trial and alternative dispute resolution. Our regulatory lawyers provide ongoing compliance and technical advice, while our litigators offer specific experience in identifying product liability vulnerabilities beyond traditional personal injury claims. These vulnerabilities in the litigation context range from wrongful death and personal injury to advertising liabilities under Federal Trade Commission and state unfair and deceptive trade practice laws. In addition to defending individual cases, our lawyers have broad experience defending class and mass action claims and consumer actions brought by federal prosecutors, states attorneys general, district attorneys, and other governmental agencies.
  • Crisis Management: We often assist clients who have experienced events such as a fire, explosion, chemical release, hurricane, or flood that caused environmental damage, personal injuries, and even death. We understand the law related to these crises and that these events can significantly impact a company’s reputation and economic welfare. Such events also open the door to tort, remedial, and natural resource recovery liabilities and obligations, as well as to major civil and criminal enforcement and penalties.
  • Understanding Consumer Litigation: We are well versed in consumer fraud, unfair and deceptive trade practices laws, false advertising, and attorney general and governmental actions, defending clients in a broad range of disputes, including class actions. Our long-standing experience with government agencies allows us to resolve governmental investigations without the filing of formal actions against our clients. When that is not possible, we negotiate settlements and consent decrees on favorable terms with minimal adverse publicity to our clients.

“Clients label the team ‘true experts in the field,’ stating that ‘the quality of work is superior.’”
Chambers USA 2017

  • Case Management: We bring value-driven case management to all of our clients’ matters. The starting point for any litigation management plan is collaboration with the client, and our lawyers pride themselves on providing well-thought-out advice that is timely and efficient and reflects our clients’ business objectives. The benefits of our rigorous planning include enhanced predictability, a more complete assessment of the challenges, and a format for cost and risk analysis.
  • Resolution: We always incorporate our clients’ end-game strategy into our litigation approach and tailor our efforts accordingly. While many clients wish to litigate aggressively – including all the way through trial – other circumstances may call for a creative early resolution strategy. We adapt to both situations and adjust where needed as litigation progresses, partnering with our clients to determine the most advantageous approach, informed by their particular business needs. Our team has deep experience resolving mass actions at all phases as litigation counsel and/or as settlement counsel.
  • Cross-Disciplinary Interface: Product liability problems often encompass the intersection of criminal, civil, and administrative enforcement actions/investigations. Drawing on Sidley’s global platform, we offer tailored advice spanning multiple legal disciplines, including our FDA, healthcare, and government strategies practices, among others. In addition, our team features former agency officials from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Communications Commission, and Department of Justice, who provide an insider’s perspective on issues related to product liability and mass torts law.

Recognized Excellence 

Our lawyers have been consistently recognized for their product liability work by leading legal directories and publications, including being highly ranked by U.S. News – Best Lawyers 2020, Chambers USA 2020, Benchmark Litigation 2020, LMG Life Sciences 2019 and The Legal 500 US 2019. In the 2020 edition of Chambers USA, our product liability lawyers were commended for their work with the publication citing Sidley’s “…deep bench noted for its expertise in the life sciences sector, having obtained a number of high-profile defense verdicts in this field.” According to Chambers USA 2020, Sidley also “[d]raws on firmwide resources in civil litigation and regulatory enforcement to provide a full-service approach to complex product liability disputes [with p]articular proficiency acting as coordinating counsel in large-scale multidistrict litigation.” In Chambers USA 2019, clients reported, "[t]hey know our business and our goals, and work collaboratively to help us attain those goals.”

Pro Bono and Community Commitment

Sidley’s product liability lawyers are strongly committed to pro bono work and to public service in their communities. Drawing on decades of litigation experience and trial prowess, our lawyers have successfully represented pro bono clients in matters ranging from protecting the constitutional rights of prisoners, including the rights of inmates on death row, to matters protecting the lives of immigrants and domestic violence survivors. In a recent pro bono prisoners’ civil rights case, our lawyers secured one of the largest jury verdicts on record for cases brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. In addition, in collaboration with the National Immigrant Justice Center, we prevailed in three separate habeas corpus lawsuits, obtaining the release of three individuals held by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at the Jerome Combs Detention Center in Kankakee, Illinois amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.