Sidley’s products liability lawyers have decades of experience defending clients in litigation related to products and product claims, which has earned our team acknowledgment as one of the premier practices in the U.S. Our group is global with a strong U.S. footprint, and we have played key roles in many of the most significant products liability cases, including several of the largest multidistrict litigation (MDL) proceedings of all time. Clients value our team’s ability to offer high-quality, client-focused work with efficiency, as well as our awareness of and sensitivity to business needs.
“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
Our strengths include:
- Mass tort coordination. Clients turn to us for their most important mass tort cases, including products liability, wrongful death and personal injury. 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-US venues.
- Winning trial practice. We play lead roles at trial, including serving as trial counsel in the often high-stakes, first trial involving a particular product. Partners on our team have taken products liability and mass tort cases to trial across the United States.
- Fact and expert development. Our products liability experience extends to a wide range of scientific, regulatory and expert issues. Our unique 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.
“Clients label the team ‘true experts in the field,’ stating that ‘the quality of work is superior.’”
Chambers USA 2017
- 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 products liability vulnerabilities beyond traditional personal injury claims. These vulnerabilities in the litigation context range from wrongful death and personal injury to advertising liabilities under FTC 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. Our long-standing experience with government agencies has allowed us to resolve governmental investigations without the filing of formal actions against our clients. Where that was not possible, we have negotiated settlements and consent decrees on favorable terms with minimal adverse publicity to our clients.
“They know our business and our goals, and work collaboratively to help us attain those goals,” report clients.
Chambers USA 2019
- 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 in a manner that is timely, 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.
- Cross-disciplinary interface. Products liability problems often encompass the intersection of criminal, civil and administrative enforcement actions/investigations. We work daily with our colleagues in other practices areas, including FDA, Healthcare and Government Strategies. Numerous members of our team are former agency officials from the FDA, EPA, FCC and DoJ. This allows us to offer our clients legal advice informed by a broader perspective.
Our lawyers have been consistently recognized for their products 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 products 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.