Trials and Appeals

Overview

Because product liability and mass tort cases always present the risk of repeat litigation, a defendant needs not only to win, but to win with effect. A defendant can win with effect without going to trial, but it cannot do so without having a trial option.

The ability to develop and present a formidable trial option is the most critical aspect of any mass tort or product liability lawyer’s job. It is no exaggeration to say that everything else flows from that capability. Regardless of whether the goal is a quick negotiated resolution, a trial to verdict in a bet-the-company case, or anything in between, a product liability defendant must convince the plaintiff’s lawyer that trial is a real option.

Sometimes, a true strategic win requires an appellate ruling, whether defending a trial victory or vindicating a trial loss. Defendants sometimes know that the odds of a trial victory are incredibly small and the only way to get an appropriate ruling is to endure the trial in order to reach the appellate court.

Veteran Litigators, Beside You for the Long Haul

Regardless of how a product liability defendant gets to trial, whether reluctantly because no reasonable settlement option was available or strategically because of a larger point that must be made, our lawyers deliver successful results. Schiff Hardin Product Liability lawyers have been successfully trying cases to verdict for decades all over the country, even in jurisdictions hand-picked by the plaintiff to attempt to inflict maximum risk on our clients.

Our trial lawyers know what it takes to win difficult cases involving serious injury to a sympathetic plaintiff. Presenting an often complex story in an effective manner requires thorough investigation, careful defense of company witnesses, a sophisticated understanding of the technical and scientific issues and the judicious use of expert testimony. In addition to  defending the specific product involved in a lawsuit, we strive to tell our clients’ stories so the jury can understand how and why the product was made in the first place and the value that the company and the product provide. Helping the jury see the evidence through our clients’ eyes is a core component of our trial strategy.

Often, our clients must persevere and overcome negative rulings before being vindicated. Our product liability lawyers stand shoulder to shoulder with our clients as we develop and execute a strategy to win the trial and the appeal. We take pride in anticipating what is likely to happen in court and engaging in sophisticated risk/benefit analyses at every stage of litigations. We know our clients don’t like surprises; our trial experience, preparation and steadfastness allow us to avoid last-minute changes in direction and strategy. 

On the Cutting Edge of Product Liability Law

Trials are often about how the jury sees the facts and applies them to a well-established body of law. Product liability law, however, is in a state of flux. Fundamental legal issues like the nature and scope of duties owed by product manufacturers are being litigated in an era of mass advertising by the plaintiff’s bar, manipulation of search engines to generate ever larger numbers of lawsuits, and advances in medical technology that identify biologic reactions at a cellular level even when no actual symptoms of disease are present. We are routinely asked to litigate these issues, often as part of a strategy to build a trial record and then establish principles of law on appeal.

We are proud to work on our clients’ most important product liability and mass tort issues. Nearly every member of the Product Liability and Mass Tort group has had an important role in an appeal, and several have made oral arguments to appellate panels. In addition to creating precedent that favorably interprets existing law, Schiff Hardin lawyers have successfully established important limitations on the scope of liability and damages in product liability and mass tort cases. We are well represented on the Product Liability Advisory Council and participate in multiple civil justice groups that seek to shape product liability and mass tort law to insure fairness to defendants. We also frequently submit amicus curiae briefs on key issues affecting our clients. We live on the cutting edge of the development of product liability law.

Product Liability Blog

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Most lawyers begin learning about torts by reading the Palsgraf case. Palsgraf established the principle of foreseeability as the basis for imposing a duty. But are the principles from Palsgraf still relevant today? In Palsgraf, Judge Cardozo famously held that a railroad did not owe a duty to a bystander who was injured after a... Continue Reading

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