Product Liability Conference
Products Liability Conference
Products Liability Conference
Products Liability Conference
Product Liability Conference



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Rebecca Weinstein Bacon, a litigation partner in the Chicago office of Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott LLP, focuses on pharmaceutical product liability, consumer class actions, and commercial disputes for Fortune 50 companies. She excels at identifying, assessing, and implementing legal strategy in line with her clients’ core business objectives.

Jerry W. Blackwell is chairman of Blackwell Burke PA, a Minneapolis trial firm. He serves as national trial and class counsel for several Fortune 500 companies. Mr. Blackwell recently won a defense verdict in the nation’s first consumer microwave popcorn case tried to a jury. He routinely defends large corporations in high-stakes, nationwide, class actions.

Eric J. Boelhouwer, Ph.D., CSP, is a human factors consultant at Dorris and Associates International LLC in Atlanta. His doctoral research focused on the pending adoption of the GHS by OSHA that will influence further chemical hazard communications. Dr. Boelhouwer is currently providing warning and safety consultative services to the automotive and chemical industries.

Hope Thai Cannon, a partner in Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP’s Birmingham, Alabama, office, represents manufacturers, financial institutions, and businesses in tort, product liability, employment, fraud, breach of contract, and unfair competition matters at both trial and appellate levels. She is active in DRI, serving as vice chair of the Product Liability Committee Consumer Goods SLG.

Steven R. Davis is the general counsel and vice president of legal and human resources at IMMI in Westfield, Indiana. IMMI is the global leader of advanced occupant safety systems for heavy truck, child seating, and school bus markets. Mr. Davis leads the company’s legal strategy in all areas, including product liability defense.

Nathan T. Dorris, Ph.D., CPE, is vice president and principal consultant at Dorris and Associates International LLC in Atlanta. A human factors specialist with experience in product safety and the evaluation of instructions, warnings, and other safety communications, his responsibilities include the design and implementation of product safety research, including evaluations of human-machine interfaces and the usability of precautionary information.

Jeffrey S. Eden, a partner at Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt in Portland, Oregon, has 25 years of legal experience. His extensive civil litigation practice includes product liability, professional liability, and catastrophic injury. Mr. Eden has been listed in Best Lawyers in America (2007–2012) for product liability litigation.

Courtney Carter Fletcher has been assistant general counsel for Doosan Infracore International Inc. in Atlanta since 2009. She is responsible for global product liability matters, including product safety and litigation for Bobcat Company, a subsidiary of Doosan Infracore International Inc.

Rick R. Fuentes, Ph.D., is a founding partner of R&D Strategic Solutions LLC in Atlanta. He has specialized in jury behavior, decision-making, and the evaluation of complex evidence for over 23 years. Dr. Fuentes has worked with trial teams on over 1,200 civil and criminal cases involving issues of tort, contracts, anti-trust, intellectual property, product liability, and professional malpractice.

Paul F. Gordon is a member at Coronado Katz LLC in Kansas City, Missouri, and is licensed in Missouri and Kansas. His civil litigation practice emphasizes product liability, premises liability, construction litigation, employment law, trucking accidents, governmental liability, and general personal injury. He is the sponsorship chair of DRI’s Product Liability Committee.

Miriam B. Grogan, PCC, ORSCC, CPCC, is principal of Stellar Coaching in Silver Spring, Maryland, an executive coaching company that assists organizations in grooming high performing staff for executive and managerial positions. Ms. Grogan serves on the faculty of the Center for Nonprofit Advancement. She is the coauthor of more than two dozen articles and two books.

Robert L. Kollar is legal counsel at Kawasaki Motors Corp. USA in Irvine, California, where, on a global scale, he provides executive management with legal advice and services on governmental compliance, risk forecasting, and litigation. He is an experienced, team focused attorney with a solid understanding of the relationship between law and business.

John F. Kuppens is a partner in the Columbia, South Carolina, office of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP. His practice focuses on product liability litigation, preventive counseling, and regulatory compliance. Mr. Kuppens is a national director of DRI, and chair of its Membership Committee.

Janice D. Lai is a partner with LeClairRyan, a national law firm. Based in the Hartford, Connecticut, office, she focuses on product liability, complex litigation, insurance defense, and food litigation. Ms. Lai formerly served as a national director for DRI and as a board member for the Connecticut Defense Lawyers Association.

Paul M. Lavelle
is a member of Winstead PC’s commercial litigation practice group and the managing shareholder at its New Orleans office. His extensive trial experience includes product liability, construction, environmental law, and general civil litigation. Mr. Lavelle is the chair emeritus of DRI’s Law Institute, a former DRI officer, and past board member.

Nan Meyer, the managing director, product liability for Markel Corporation in Deerfield, Illinois, is responsible for establishing underwriting approach and monitoring profitability, acting as a referral underwriter for larger accounts, and providing guidance to Markel International. Her 30 years of experience includes underwriting for primary and excess and surplus lines companies.

Lee Mickus, a partner at Snell & Wilmer LLP in Denver, defends manufacturers during the discovery, trial, and appellate stages of product liability lawsuits. He has handled products cases involving automobiles, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and industrial machinery. Mr. Mickus has successfully tried cases to juries in many states, including Colorado, Texas, California, New York, and Montana.

Rosario A. Palmieri is the vice president for infrastructure, legal and regulatory policy with the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) in Washington, D.C. He works with its members to develop the association’s position on regulatory, civil justice, antitrust, and infrastructure issues. Mr. Palmieri leads the NAM’s efforts on product safety.

Nicholas C. Pappas is a member of Frost Brown Todd LLC in Indianapolis, and chair of its product liability practice group. Mr. Pappas focuses on product liability and commercial litigation. He defends clients in state and federal courts nationwide, recently trying cases to defense verdicts in Alabama, Indiana, Iowa, and Wisconsin.

Marc J. Schoem, Deputy Director, Office of Compliance and Field Operations, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, is presently serving as acting director. He is responsible for directing CPSC investigations of potentially defective nonregulated and violative regulated consumer products. He directs the negotiation and implementation of product recalls.

Charles A. “Chuck” Stewart III, a partner in the Montgomery, Alabama, office of Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP, is admitted to practice in Alabama and Tennessee. He has extensive trial experience representing corporations in product liability, employment, large personal injury, and business litigation. Mr. Stewart is the chair of DRI’s Product Liability Committee.

Patrick J. Sweeney, a partner with Sweeney & Sheehan PC in Philadelphia, focuses his practice on transportation, product liability, and general liability matters. Mr. Sweeney is the president of the Pennsylvania Defense Institute. He is a past DRI board member and former DRI state representative for Pennsylvania. Mr. Sweeney is currently the vice chair of DRI’s Product Liability Committee.

E. Wayne Taff, principal at the Law Offices of E. Wayne Taff in Blue Springs, Missouri, has tried lawsuits throughout the country. He served as lead trial lawyer in the lawsuit following Missouri Governor Carnahan’s death in an aircraft crash. Mr. Taff serves as national and local trial counsel for numerous product and chemical manufacturers. He is a former DRI officer and board member.

Anne M. Talcott, a shareholder at Schwabe Williamson& Wyatt in Portland, Oregon, focuses on complex business, product liability, and pharmaceutical litigation. Licensed in Oregon and Washington, she serves as northwest regional counsel for several clients. Ms. Talcott is the program chair of this conference, and a past chair of the Oregon State Bar Product Liability Section.

Thomas W. Tobin, a partner in Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP’s New York metropolitan offices, is a seasoned trial lawyer and engineer. Mr. Tobin has spent his entire career defending the design and manufacturing decisions of fellow engineers before juries throughout the United States. He has counseled clients with regard to more than a dozen NTSB investigations.

David K. Tochen joined the National Transportation Safety Board as general counsel in August 2011. Since 1980, he served in various legal positions in the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). Most recently, Mr. Tochen served as the deputy chief counsel in DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. From 1991 to 2008, he was a deputy assistant general counsel in DOT.

Kelly Van Veldhuizen is an attorney in the product liability group of Deere & Company’s Law Department in Moline, Illinois. She handles North American and Australian product litigation and legal support for the Tractor Platform, loaders and handheld products. Ms. Van Veldhuizen previously worked on commercial contracts, privacy, and corporate compliance legal matters.

O. Kevin Vincent was appointed chief counsel of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in July 2009. Prior to his appointment, he was in private practice for 15 years with a global law firm, specializing in government contracts law. He began his legal career in the Pentagon as a captain in the Office of the General Counsel of the Air Force. Mr. Vincent also has a degree in electrical engineering.

Carrie E. Watt is associate general counsel and compliance officer of Teleflex Incorporated in Limerick, Pennsylvania. Her litigation and compliance practice includes FDA regulatory matters and the prevention of fraud and abuse. Previously, Ms. Watt was an associate with a national firm in Philadelphia, concentrating on white-collar criminal defense and associated civil litigation.

James E. Weatherholtz is an attorney in the Charleston, South Carolina, office of Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice LLP. He represents construction product manufacturers, contractors, homebuilders, and sureties. Mr. Weatherholtz has defended manufacturers of engineered wood siding, elastomeric coatings, laminated beams, and metal roof shingles. He is the program vice chair of this conference.

Todd I. Woods is a director and assistant general counsel with Nissan North America Inc. in Franklin, Tennessee. Mr. Woods has strategic oversight for Nissan’s litigation in the Americas and manages legal teams responsible for product liability and safety, commercial litigation, intellectual property, labor and employment, and dealer relations.

Rich Young is a director of Legal Product Safety Compliance at Johnson Controls in Glendale, Wisconsin, a $40 billion global manufacturer of automotive interiors, building efficiency systems, and batteries, operating in over 150 countries. Mr. Young has global and enterprise wide responsibility for product safety and regulatory compliance counseling, casualty litigation, risk management support, and litigation support processes.