Representative Matters

In-depth technical and industry knowledge paired with national, high-volume litigation defense experience: That's how Hinshaw helps.

Unforeseen accidents, catastrophes, and other events often give rise to multiple, related lawsuits. When personal injury, wrongful death, property damage, product liability, and related disputes arise — whether as standalone, mass-tort or multi-jurisdictional cases — businesses and their insurers need reliable, solution-focused counsel from trusted legal advisors with experience managing and defending large-portfolio litigation.

We serve as an extension of our clients' in-house legal teams, focused on managing costs and achieving positive outcomes that enable businesses to focus on their core missions.

At Hinshaw, our team of more than 75 attorneys helps domestic and international clients minimize potential exposure and achieve results in and out of court. Over the decades, we have successfully prepared, tried, and won complex trials and appeals in the most challenging jurisdictions across the United States. Our national coverage ensures on-the-ground support even in jurisdictions that see a heightened volume of claims activity.

We have negotiated and coordinated settlements involving a wide variety of products and types of disputes. We have a strong history of helping clients resolve ongoing mass-tort and toxic-tort litigation that features multiple lawsuits and novel arguments from an increasingly aggressive plaintiffs' bar.

General Liability

Our attorneys annually handle thousands of personal injury, property damage, premises defense, and related cases. We also serve on a number of litigation defense panels for leading insurance companies and self-insured entities and represent clients in all phases of regulatory litigation procedures and in negotiations with federal and state agencies and prosecutors.

We have successfully defended clients against high-profile personal injury and loss-of-life cases involving aviation and construction-site accidents, environmental incidents, medical malpractice, and other claims. We also have represented businesses and property owners in claims involving amusement parts, retail stores, residential homes, parking facilities, restaurants, schools, sports facilities, playgrounds, hotels and motels, and transportation facilities, among other properties. This experience enables us to thoroughly investigate and determine the validity of claims, mount an aggressive, fact-based defense in trial and appellate courts, and — when appropriate — negotiate effective settlements.

Product Liability

Our product-liability defense process is tailored to meet clients' unique needs while establishing an appropriately sized and skilled team, building a strong defense strategy, and communicating arguments clearly and effectively. Key steps include:

  • Conducting early and accurate claim evaluations.
  • Litigating cases locally but managing them centrally.
  • Utilizing an established network of proven and respected jury-trial experts and consultants.
  • Defending products against attack in single and multi-claim lawsuits.

Over the decades, we have represented clients in virtually every major industry. We have developed specific experience in the following sectors:

  • Appliances and Outdoor Power Equipment

Hinshaw represents some of the country's best-known makers and sellers of appliances, outdoor power equipment, and related consumer products. In this sector as much as any other, reputation and brand recognition are critical to success. To preserve and strengthen consumer confidence and help clients achieve their business objectives, we serve as trusted, reliable advisors and have developed decades-long relationships with many of the top manufacturers, distributors, and retailers in the industry.

We work hand in hand with clients at every step, from product development and launch to the resolution of disputes through trials, appeals and negotiated settlements. When appropriate, we also consult with our extensive network of local and national counsel and subject-matter experts to provide practical, effective guidance and litigation counsel.

We have handled thousands of matters involving a broad range of products, including heating, air-conditioning, and ventilation equipment; pumps and valves; electric motors; lithium-ion batteries; and lawn, garden, and landscaping equipment.

  • Beverage and Food Ingredients

Our attorneys have successfully defended scores of lawsuits filed in state and federal courts across the country seeking damages for alleged catastrophic exposures to products involved in the manufacture and distribution of ingredients, flavors, and foods. Among other jurisdictions, we have handled matters in California, Illinois, Missouri, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Wisconsin.

Plaintiffs in these lawsuits have included individuals and groups at every point in the food production, distribution, and sales pipeline, from workers in industrial and retail settings to consumers allegedly injured by the consumption of foods and beverages containing potentially harmful substances.

  • Chemicals, Coatings, Building Products, and Other Products

We represent manufacturers and distributors of all types of chemicals, coatings, building components, and other products, as well as the companies that insure them. We have successfully defended single-plaintiff and class action litigation against manufacturers of industrial chemicals, paints and coatings, windows and doors, products for the printing industry, adhesives and solvents, firefighting foams, insecticides and weed killers, insulation, and plastics and polymers, among others.

  • Medical Device and Pharmaceuticals

Hinshaw represents healthcare clients across the spectrum of product liability disputes, including individual lawsuits, mass torts, class actions, consolidated actions, multiparty and multidistrict litigation, as well as regulatory proceedings. Our clients include hospitals and health systems, drug manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers, and other product manufacturers, distributors, and providers in the life sciences sector.

With significant experience negotiating settlements and acting as first-chair trial and appellate counsel, we are well-positioned to serve as national or regional litigation counsel for large, complex cases. We have successfully handled hundreds of matters involving allegations of negligence and strict tort liability, as well as disputes that fall under state product liability acts, consumer protection acts, and related statutes, or that plead novel design defect, manufacturing defect, and failure to warn theories.

  • Vehicle and Vehicle Component Parts

Our team focuses on the representation of domestic and international automobile, truck and recreational vehicle manufacturers and dealers, manufacturers and distributors of component parts, and insurance providers. As the industry continues to globalize, we provide effective, coordinated counsel across jurisdictions.

The plaintiffs’ bar continues to deploy increasingly creative claims and novel legal arguments aimed at new technologies. Vehicle and parts manufacturers and distributors, in particular, often face allegations of injury or liability centered on rapidly emerging technologies — including LIDAR, self-driving vehicles, the internet of things (IoT), and artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning — as well as compliance with evolving data privacy, cybersecurity and other regulations.

We have decades of experience advising many of the world’s largest automotive and parts manufacturers in complex lawsuits and regulatory proceedings argued in federal and state trial and appellate courts throughout the United States and before governmental agencies. In addition to handling individual lawsuits, our lawyers have successfully defended numerous class actions, regularly obtaining pre-certification dismissals. Over the years, a number of our court victories have led to the development of new product liability and warranty law and provided clarity to industry participants, enabling them to manage and minimize potential risks, liabilities, and other exposure.

Toxic Torts

As a nationally recognized leader in toxic tort defense, our attorneys have accrued significant experience in federal and state courts across the United States. In an arena in which the devil is often in the details, this allows us to mount strong defenses that take into consideration the unique qualities and processes of each particular court and to move cases efficiently through the system.

In addition to our nearly 40-year history handling asbestos and other legacy litigation, we have served as national or regional defense counsel in litigation involving chemical and silica exposure, indoor air quality and mold, pharmaceuticals and vaccines, food additives, welding rods and other manufacturing tools, benzene exposure suits, and more.

Representative products liability cases handled by Hinshaw are as follows:

  • Obtained a jury verdict in favor of Rudd Industries, which manufactured an FAA air traffic controller chair. The plaintiff contended that an adjustable height control mechanism for the air traffic controller's chair (manufactured in Germany and distributed by a company in the Netherlands) malfunctioned, allegedly causing the chair to rapidly descend and cause a back injury that the plaintiff claimed prevented him from returning to work as an air traffic controller. Third-party actions for contribution were filed in that matter against the foreign manufacturer and distributor of the failed component part.
  • Obtained a jury verdict in favor of Evenflo Company in an alleged brain injury case to a four-year-old child resulting from an alleged defective child car seat. The jury was asked to determine the crash worthiness of the child restraint system; misuse by the mother; and causation and damages.
  • Obtained a verdict in favor of Walgreen Co. in an action brought for a misfilled prescription wherein the plaintiff alleged brain injury resulting in total and complete cognitive impairment. A claim for punitive damages was allowed to be heard by the jury. The initial demand was $200 million. An appeal was not filed.
  • Represented Lucent Technologies, Inc. in a products liability action to recover approximately $33 million for property damage to a Class I Clean Room and losses to production of semi-conductor wafers against manufacturers of two faulty valves resulting in the release of hydrochloric acid within the Clean Room. The case settled for $25 million before the trial was set to commence in September 2005.
  • Represented the The Upjohn Company in Northern Trust v. Upjohn Company. The plaintiff, a woman, underwent an abortion procedure at a Chicago hospital. During the procedure, she sustained permanent brain damage as a result of cardiopulmonary arrest. Her claim included allegations of medical malpractice against the treating physician and hospital, and product liability against The Upjohn Company. After six weeks of trial and one week of jury deliberations, the jury returned a verdict of $9.5 million against all defendants. On appeal, the Illinois Appellate Court reversed the decision and entered judgment in favor of all the defendants. The appellate decision established new law in Illinois that expert testimony is required on drug product liability warnings cases and reiterated that changes in packet inserts after an incident are inadmissible.
  • Represented Maren Engineering in Walters v. Maren Engineering in which an employee at a Kansas paper recycling company severely injured his hand in an altered and modified recycling machine. A choice of law motion filed on the eve of trial resulted in the application of Kansas' several liability law. The appellate court affirmed the trial court's application of foreign law, and Kansas practitioners use this case as an example of the requirements for advancing a several liability and phantom defendant defense.
  • Represented Astro Amusement Company in Roland v. Astro Amusement Company. The plaintiff, a 45-year-old U.S. Postal Service mail carrier, sustained a frontal lobotomy injury after he walked around protective fencing and into the path of a fully operating amusement ride. The demand on the case was $2 million; the offer on the case included a structured settlement package valued at $400,000. After a three-week trial, the jury returned a verdict in two hours in favor of all the defendants. On appeal, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's evidentiary rulings concerning demonstrative evidence used by the defendants and reinterpreted Illinois law on the duty owed to trespassers.
  • Represented Westinghouse in Stojkovich v. Westinghouse. An inebriated passenger escaped out of a stalled elevator car, fell down the shaft, and sustained significant traumatic head injury. Although the defendant's New York vice-president criticized the local elevator maintenance manager, calling his supervision of the elevator maintenance services "negligent," the jury only assessed 25 percent responsibility on the elevator service company. The defense's pre-trial and trial objections to allowing punitive damages claim were upheld on appeal. The appellate decision established standards of review for trial court evidentiary and non-evidentiary hearings on appropriateness of a punitive damages claim.
  • Obtained a favorable verdict on behalf of Whirlwind in a case in which the plaintiff, a chronically unemployed individual being trained for new work, had his hand amputated in an industrial work saw at a training center. A policy limits demand was made on the product manufacturer, who maintained that he would rather have his family business go bankrupt than pay the plaintiff anything. The defense claimed the plaintiff was not entitled to an award because of his assumption of risk as well as faulty training and maintenance by the plaintiff's employer.  
  • Represented Holloway Equipment Ltd. in a commercial motor vehicle accident case in which the plaintiff sustained disabling leg injuries after being crushed by a Canadian truck driver's nine axle low boy trailer as it was being loaded. Although the company client was no longer in operation and the truck driver could not be located for deposition or trial testimony, the jury was convinced that the accident was caused either by the contributory negligence of the plaintiff or the combined negligence of two third-party defendants who settled directly with the plaintiff before and during the trial.
  • Obtained a favorable jury verdict on behalf of the doctor in Krause v. DuPont and Dr. Greaves. The minor plaintiff in this malpractice case was born prematurely with intraventricular hemorrhage, and subsequently developed cerebral palsy and other serious medical conditions. The plaintiff's case blamed these conditions on the drug Coumadin, taken by the mother during her first trimester of pregnancy and prescribed by the family physician represented by Hinshaw. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant failed to warn of the drug's harmful effects in early pregnancy and sought more than $2.5 million in damages. The drug manufacturer and other defendants settled before trial. Dr. Greaves was the sole defendant remaining at trial.
  • Represented General Electric in Professional Properties v. General Electric. An Alton, Ill., office building owned by the plaintiff was destroyed by a fire that began in a deep fat fryer manufactured by General Electric. The plaintiff alleged that the fryer overheated and caused the fire due to defective wiring. The undisputed property loss resulted in stipulated damages of $550,000. The case was tried on the sole issue of liability, and the jury returned a verdict in favor of our client.  
  • Represented the distributor, Sears, in O'Leary v. SEARS and Chilton Corp. The plaintiff, a child, was severely burned when a gas can he was using near an open flame exploded. Sears, the distributor of the gas can that was manufactured to its specifications, was named a defendant against defect allegations for the can's lack of a flame impingement screen. The plaintiff's damages demand remained constant at $7 million up until the time of trial. Hinshaw ultimately achieved a settlement of $1.5 million for our client; the co-defendant paid $2 million.
  • Represented the manufacturer in Greer v. McDonough Manufacturing Company in which the plaintiff claimed an industrial resaw was improperly guarded under the ANSI standards. The plaintiff was employed in a pallet company as a laborer either flipping or stacking wood. He alleged that a piece of wood was stuck in the resaw and that he had been instructed on how to pull or align the wood so it would catch. In performing this maneuver, his right hand was pulled into the rollers and to the blade resulting in amputation of two digits on his right hand and significant disfiguring and disabling injuries to tendons and muscles. The plaintiff sought $1.2 million from the jury. The jury returned a verdict of $60,000, but assessed 95 percent of the fault to the plaintiff and 5 percent to defendant, resulting in a verdict of $3,050. A motion for a new trial on damages was denied.
  • Obtained a jury verdict in favor of QT&T in Choura v. QT&T, Inc. The  plaintiff claimed that a telephone manufactured by our client was unreasonably dangerous. The plaintiff claimed hearing loss as a result of a loud ring that came through the earpiece when the plaintiff was using the phone. The defense was handicapped since the only assets of the company were insurance due to a bankruptcy of the client several years prior to trial. No defense witnesses were available, and all defenses presented to the jury were necessarily made by way of cross-examination of the plaintiff and plaintiff's witnesses. The plaintiff asked for a verdict in the amount of $117,000.00 and verdict was rendered by the jury in favor of the defendant.
  • On behalf of Siemens Energy & Automation, Inc., in a span of approximately 18 months, Hinshaw obtained summary judgment in five separate product liability actions involving wrongful death and personal injury claims allegedly resulting from defects in different products manufactured by Furnas Electric Co., a division of Siemens.
  • Obtained a verdict in favor of Kokomo in a case claiming negligent manufacture of a tanning bed that collapsed on the plaintiff causing back and shoulder injuries. The demand before trial was $150,000. 
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