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Product Liability


Product liability defense has been one of the cornerstones of Nutter’s highly successful litigation practice for decades. Clients entrust a great deal of this work to Nutter because we are dedicated and aggressively prepare their cases to be won at trial. That approach has led to some major defense verdicts, but it has also led to many more pre-trial dismissals and favorable settlements without any negative publicity or materially adverse settlement that encouraged further lawsuits.

Clients know that we can prepare a case to be won without exceeding their budgets. We do not over-staff cases, and we commit significant partner level attention to each and every client. Our unparalleled partner-to-associate ratio also results in superior associate training and satisfaction (as ranked in nationwide surveys) which means that clients do not have a revolving door of associate lawyers assigned to their cases. Our team also includes a Legal Nurse Consultant Certified (LNCC), the only credential in the legal nursing consulting field that is accredited by the American Board of Nursing Specialties (ABNS), the national accrediting body for nursing certification programs.

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Our Product Liability defense team have a reputation of being both efficient and effective with technology. Nutter has a sub-practice group that is dedicated to mastering both the technology and the law of electronic discovery, which represents the fastest growing budget item in large cases. As a result, our lawyers can work with similarity engines and other e-discovery tools, as well as Web conferencing, extranets and other high-efficiency tools.

Our success in defending complex cases is also due in large part to our ability to take full advantage of the Boston area’s rich supply of experts found in local hospitals, universities and research centers. Our well-developed expert relationships provide not only an edge at trial, but an edge in preparation of the case. Our experts are chosen for their ability to explain the relevant science or technology, and the ability to point us in the right directions during discovery, but the cost to deal with these experts is reasonable, in part because we have dealt with them many times, and in part because they are right here in our backyard, providing affordable quick access.

Our Team

Our team has been selected by some of the leading companies in the world to defend hundreds of cases involving allegedly defective drugs, medical devices, automotive products, and industrial materials. Because of the similar complexities involved in toxic tort litigation, those same clients and other market leaders have chosen us to defend them in cases involving damages from alleged toxic exposures.

The Nutter product liability litigation team includes: 

  • A Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers; 
  • Two Fellows of the Litigation Counsel of America; 
  • Two product liability defense lawyers named in the peer-reviewed “Best Lawyers in America;” 
  • Four trial lawyers currently or previously named as Massachusetts Super Lawyers by Boston Magazine
  • Several trial lawyers who have authored or co-authored articles or books on litigation issues, including product liability issues; and 
  • Several trial lawyers who have been asked to speak to bar or trade associations on the subjects of products liability and litigation.

Nutter is also: 

  • Listed among the ranked firms in litigation in a national survey by Chambers USA; and 
  • Ranked as a tier one law firm nationally and in Boston by U.S. News & World Report in product liability defense.

Who We Represent

We represent clients involved in the design, manufacture, distribution and sale of many products, including: 

  • Commercial and industrial materials; 
  • Pharmaceuticals and medical devices; 
  • Automotive and heavy equipment products; 
  • Chemicals; 
  • Health care products; 
  • Paper products, including paper books and other publications; and 
  • Agricultural products.

What We Do

Our product liability litigation team has defended clients from a variety of industries in cases involving alleged design defects, manufacturing defects, breaches of warranty and inherently dangerous products.

We handle cases in a wide variety of forums, including state and federal courts around the country, and forums for arbitration, mediation and other types of alternative dispute resolution. In addition to single case pre-trial proceedings and trials, Nutter routinely participates in mass tort litigation in multi-district litigation (MDL) proceedings and other coordinated national litigation. In an increasingly global marketplace, we collaborate closely with defense lawyers in every state and several countries on substantive issues that affect our mutual clients.

We are particularly well-known for our work in the following areas.

Toxic Tort Defense

Nutter has a cutting-edge practice in the defense of claims arising from alleged exposures to: 

  • Asbestos-containing products; 
  • Vinyl chloride; 
  • Toxic dust from commercial printing facilities; and 
  • A wide variety of industrial solvents and chemicals.

Nutter attorneys are familiar with the organization and presentation of all aspects of the defense of a complex toxic tort case. In addition, we have worked with leading scientific and technical experts throughout the country and around the world on the development of expert testimony that is a critical aspect of toxic tort defense.

Nutter has successfully tried claims in state and federal courts in California, Kansas, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, Michigan and Massachusetts. Similarly, we have handled a wide variety of appellate matters in both the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal and the various state appellate courts, involving issues such as the application of the Daubert doctrine and the degree of proof necessary to establish causation under Restatement Section 402A.

Drug and Medical Device Defense

Nutter has been representing manufacturers of pharmaceuticals and medical devices for more than 30 years, and is engaged on an ongoing basis in pertinent depositions, mediations, hearings and trials throughout the country. Relying on our longstanding expertise and broad knowledge of emerging medical science, we help our clients to respond aggressively to rapidly evolving theories of liability.

We have defended cases involving, among other things: 

  • Prosthetic knee, hip and spinal implants; 
  • Natural rubber latex gloves; 
  • Contact lenses; and 
  • A variety of pharmaceutical products, including but not limited to DES, contraceptives, over-the-counter analgesics and psychotropic drugs.

Our multi-disciplinary practice also encompasses other aspects of litigation and investigations involving medical devices, drugs and biopharmaceutical products, including: 

  • Product recalls; 
  • Distributor relationships; 
  • Internal and criminal investigations; and 
  • Licensing, technology sharing, and supply agreements.

Defense of Other Products Cases

Nutter has successfully handled cases involving allegedly defective automotive and industrial vehicle products, and various industrial and commercial materials used in all kinds of products and manufacturing processes.

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Representative Matters

Representative Matters

  • Automotive Products Liability Trial

    An automotive products liability trial in 2016 against Hyundai Motor America, involving a claim that the brake and accelerator pedal configuration of an automobile was conducive to simultaneous depression of the pedals and unintended acceleration, resulting in serious personal injuries. After a seven-day trial, the jury returned a defense verdict in favor of Nelson Apjohn’s client, Hyundai Motor America.

  • Representation of a manufacturer of prosthetic knee, hip and spinal implants in cases around the country

    Ongoing representation of a manufacturer of prosthetic knee, hip and spinal implants in lawsuits around the country including so-called “mass tort” multi-district litigation (MDL) proceedings and other coordinated national litigation.

  • Representation of major corporations in cases involving diverse pharmaceutical and medical device products

    Ongoing representation of major corporations in cases involving diverse pharmaceutical and medical device products such as contact lenses, contraceptive patches, pediatric painkillers, quinolone antibiotics, and migraine medication in lawsuits in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.  

  • Represented a manufacturer of prosthetic spine implants in multi-district product liability litigation involving over 250 plaintiffs

    Represented medical device manufacturer in a multi-district product liability litigation involving over 250 plaintiffs. Managed team of associates in the review and production of over four million pages of documents contained in an Electronic Reading Room.

  • Representation of a manufacturer of prosthetic hip implants in multi-district product liability litigation

    Member of the science team responsible for expert witness preparation.

  • Represented Commonwealth of Massachusetts as Special Assistant Attorney General in connection with claims arising from alleged "sick building" status of "Ruggles Center"

    Service as Special Assistant Attorney General representing the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in connection with all claims arising from the alleged “sick building” status of the “Ruggles Center,” the former home of the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles. These matters involved extensive personal injury and property damage claims arising from alleged illnesses at the building in question, along with a thirty million dollar claim against the Commonwealth for breach of its lease agreements. After several years of litigation, the matters were successfully resolved with a multi-million dollar payment to the Commonwealth.

  • Jury defense verdict for a large printing company on a multi-million dollar claim

    A jury defense verdict for a large printing company on a multi-million dollar claim arising from allegations of widespread hazardous exposure to lead dust.

  • Represent company in multi-district product liability litigation

    Represent medical device company in a multi-district product liability litigation involving recalled device. Member of team responsible for analysis of the science, retention of expert witnesses, analysis of company documents and developing narrative themes for company witnesses.

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