Frederick Ufkes is a trial attorney with more than 35 years of experience in complex litigation, medical devices, prescription pharmaceuticals, OTC products, environmental, toxic torts, mass torts, products liability defense, and construction litigation.
He has national and regional counsel experience in both products liability and mass torts, and has defended companies engaged in manufacturing a broad spectrum of products, including chemicals, chemical solvents, asbestos, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, electronics, computer software and hardware, heavy machinery, construction equipment and consumer products. Mr. Ufkes' experience in the building industry before becoming a lawyer has provided him with necessary real world experience, assisting him in his representation of design professionals, owners, developers, and contractors in construction related disputes. He has also defended businesses nationwide in connection with other business and commercial matters, as well as employment disputes.
In addition, Mr. Ufkes has handled a substantial number of matters involving compliance and litigation surrounding California's Proposition 65, the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act. He has counseled manufacturers and distributors of both consumer and industrial products at the pre-marketing phase for compliance on a "go forward" basis. He has also defended consumer class actions and state regulatory cases alleging violation of the Act, seeking injunctive relief and civil penalties in the hundreds of millions of dollars. He has litigated matters under the federal CERCLA, RCRA, Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act statutes for property owners and lessees as well as manufacturing enterprises engaged in plastics manufacturing.
Mr. Ufkes joined Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP in January 2009. Previously he was a partner in the Los Angeles office of K&L Gates LLP.
- Defense Research Institute
- Association of Southern California Defense Counsel
- Los Angeles County Bar Association, Litigation Section
- American Bar Association
- Torts and Insurance
- Natural Resources
- Energy and Environmental Law
- Los Angeles Superior Court Alternative Dispute Resolution
- Pro Bono Mediation
- Arbitration panels
Honors & Awards
- AV® Peer Review Rating from Martindale-Hubbell, its highest rating for ethics and legal ability
- Recognized on the Super Lawyers list by Southern California Super Lawyers magazine, 2010 – 2011
Mr. Ufkes has been lead trial counsel for a number of Fortune 500 companies. Many of these cases were brought by plaintiffs claiming exposure to industrial solvents, degreasers, paints, adhesives and epoxies. He has also been trial counsel in asbestos litigation throughout California.
Mr. Ufkes has successfully defended medical device manufacturers against claims for defective implants, artificial joints and surgical instruments.
He has tried cases involving a broad spectrum of consumer products, and litigated cases involving issues affecting products liability, including market share liability, limitations on punitive damages, causation standards under federal and state law, and federal preemption.
A selection of Mr. Ufkes's representative cases includes:
- Mr. Ufkes successfully defended the world's largest manufacturer of surfboard blanks against claims by employees for cancer allegedly caused by exposure to chemicals used in the manufacturing process.
- He is one of the few trial attorneys in the country who has successfully defended through trial a products liability case where the plaintiff claimed that his leukemia was caused by benzene exposure.
- Mr. Ufkes successfully defended a medical products manufacturer against claims by 65 plaintiffs for personal injuries by arguing the company was not the alter ego or successor in interest to the actual manufacturer of the devices.
- Mr. Ufkes was actively involved in the national coordination of DES cases for a pharmaceutical company, and for all products liability claims affecting a manufacturer of medical devices such as surgical instruments.
Mr. Ufkes's reported decisions include:
- In Re Vaccine Cases, 134 Cal.App.4th 438 (2005)
- Rivas v. Safety-Kleen Corp., 98 Cal.App.4th218 (2002)
- Bockrath v. Aldrich Chemical Co. et al., 21 Cal.4th 71 (1999)
He has spoken and presented on topics including complex case management strategies and litigation skills in addition to toxic tort and environmental matters. Following is a sampling of his presentations:
- "Product Liability Claims and Recalls - The Basics," Willis Client Educational Series webinar, September 2014
- "Litigation of Benzene-Related Lymphoid Cancer Cases: Recent Settlements and Verdicts," HarrisMartin's Benzene Litigation & Lymphoid Cancers: New Scientific Evidence Conference, Marina Del Rey, California, December 2010
- "Corporate and Insurance Perspectives: Minimizing the Financial Impact of Benzene Litigation," HB Benzene Litigation Conference, San Francisco, July 2009
- "Opening Statements," HarrisMartin Benzene Litigation Conference: Trial of a Benzene-Leukemia Case from Jury Selection to Verdict, New York, December 2007
- Co Chair: Mealey's Benzene Litigation Conference, Santa Monica, California, June 2007
- "Emerging Solvents Claims," HarrisMartin Cutting Edge Toxic Torts Conference, Scottsdale, Arizona, December 2006
Mr. Ufkes has published articles in a variety of areas of law, including the federal preemption of Proposition 65 claims. His publications include:
- "The Inherent Risks In Purchasing Assets of a Predecessor," Law360, October 24, 2013
- "Supreme Court Clarifies Role of Trial Judge in Determining Admissibility of Expert Testimony," California Bar Journal, January 2013
- "Avoiding a Quagmire: Environmental and Product Liability Issues," co-author, The M&A Journal, April 2007
- "Bates v. Dow: Are Pesticides Now Subject to Regulation under Prop. 65," Prop. 65 Clearinghouse, September 15, 2005
- "Message in ‘Lockheed’: Judges Must Control Medical Testimony," Los Angeles Daily Journal, February 14, 2005
- "Prop. 65 — The Pharmaceutical Industry’s Bitter Pill?" Prop 65 News, October 2003
- "Be Wary of Prop. 65," Nutritional Outlook, October 2003
- "When is Compliance Necessary: Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Prop 65," Pharmaceutical & Medical Device Law Bulletin, July 2003
- "Proposition 65: The New Requirements in 2002," Toxic Chemicals Litigation Reporter, May 2002
- Four Things Manufacturers, Distributors and Retailers Need to Know About Proposed Revisions to California Proposition 65January 27, 2015Hinshaw Environmental Bulletin
- December 12, 2012Toxic Tort Alert
- July 9, 2010Hinshaw Environmental Bulletin
- St. Matthews Episcopal Church in Pacific Palisades, California, Lector
- University of California, San Diego Alumni Association Board of Directors, Member
J.D., Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, 1982
B.A., University of California at San Diego, 1979
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
- U.S. District Court for the Central, Eastern, Northern, and Southern Districts of California