DRI Faculty List

2021 Defense Lawyers Asbestos Symposium

Sheraton New Orleans Hotel | New Orleans, LA | November 3, 2021

Edward P. (Ed) Abbot
Hawkins Parnell & Young LLP

Edward P. (Ed) Abbot is a partner in the New York City office of Hawkins Parnell Thackston & Young LLP. Mr. Abbot is a trial lawyer and litigator who concentrates on a wide range of product liability, general commercial and mass liability toxic tort litigation. He has substantial experience in representing major corporations involved in asbestos litigation, as well as in environmental toxic torts, premises liability, pharmaceutical matters and other complex cases in multiple jurisdications.

Dyanna Ballou
Rasmussen Dickey & Moore LLC

Dyanna Ballou is a first-chair trial attorney with numerous jury trials in state and federal courts across the county. Her practice has included the defense of product liability, premises liability, and commercial matters involving asbestos, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, aviation, tobacco, food products and many others. Dyanna is admitted to practice in Missouri, Kansas, and Illinois. She is a partner in the Kansas City law firm Rasmussen Dickey and Moore, where she has served as the firm's CEO. There she manages large dockets of cases for her clients with an emphasis on the challenging jurisdictions of St. Louis, MO and Madison County, IL.

Whitney K. Barrows
Melick & Porter LLP

Whitney K. Barrows is an attorney with Melick & Porter LLP in Boston, Massachusetts. Her practice focuses on toxic tort and asbestos litigation. She has been handling asbestos matters for nearly 10 years. She serves as both national coordinating counsel and local counsel for a number of asbestos clients. Whitney has practiced in the area of complex civil litigation, with a focus on toxic tort and asbestos litigation, since she started with the firm in 2006. She is well-versed in the steps required to mount a successful defense, from pre-suit investigation through trial, for a wide variety of clients, including product manufacturers and distributors. She has focused, in particular, on the development defense experts, marshalling and coordination of discovery, and preparation of cross-examinations and motions to challenge key plaintiffs' experts. Whitney has extensive experience, both as local and national counsel, working with opposing counsel and developing case-specific defenses resulting in the successful dispositions of clients' cases.

Kyle E. Bjornlund
Cetrulo LLP

Kyle E. Bjornlund practices in the Toxic Tort Litigation Group of Cetrulo LLP. He is part of a team that represents Fortune 100 companies as local, regional, and national coordinating counsel in toxic tort litigation. Kyle has successfully defended clients in the state and federal courts of Massachusetts, Maine, Missouri, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont in multi-party, multi-jurisdictional, mass tort litigation alleging injuries from exposure to asbestos lead pigment, benzene, talc, and radiation. He has also been retained by prospective buyers to perform risk management assessments of the toxic tort liabilities of acquisition "target" companies.

Kevin Deenihan
Rasmussen Dickey & Moore LLC

Kevin Deenihan joined RDM in 2010. His practice focuses on toxic torts, CERCLA and California Environmental Quality Act matters, asbestos-related bankruptcy trusts, labor and employment matters, dental practice transactional work, and business litigation. Outside of the office, Kevin works on behalf of veterans for Public Counsel, the nation's largest pro bono law firm.

Blaine Erwin
Q Risk Analytics

Blaine Erwin is President of Q Risk Analytics in Houston, Texas.

Jennifer L. Filippazzo
McDermott Will & Emery LLP

Jennifer L. Filippazzo represents Fortune 500 manufacturers, retailers, and other corporate entities in a variety of litigation matters. With degrees biology and in public health, she focuses her practice on civil litigation, general commercial disputes, product liability, negligence and mass tort litigation. Jennifer has significant experience defending corporations in complex and/or multi-jurisdictional toxic tort matters. As a national trial team member, she handles matters and trials in New York, Pennsylvania and Florida.

John M. Fitzpatrick
Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell LLP

John M. Fitzpatrick, a trial attorney with Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell LLP in Denver, focuses on high-exposure cases for both national and local clients. His practice involves claims of product defects in aviation, asbestos, pharmaceuticals or medical devices, high-exposure birth trauma claims in medical malpractice, and chemical releases of toxic substances. He has tried in excess of 220 cases to verdict in more than 30 states and obtained defense verdicts in the majority of them.

Sharla J. Frost
Sharla Frost, Attorney at Law

Sharla J. Frost, a frequent DRI speaker, was repeatedly listed as one of fewer than five lawyers across the United States in the Spotlight Table for asbestos litigation by Chambers and Partners prior to her retirement from trial practice in 2020. She has been recognized for her work improving diversity and inclusion in the legal profession. She served as the President of Litigation Counsel of America, was elected to the American Board of Trial Advocates, and was active on several committees for the National Association of Women Lawyers, including service on the Committee for the Evaluation of Supreme Court Nominees. She was identified as the 2018 Houston Lawyer of the Year (Products Liability Litigation-Defendants) by Best Lawyers in America. Sharla now maintains a specialty practice consisting of settlement negotiations and expert witness work. Since retirement, she has published Power at the Table, a women lawyers' guide to business development; and, Frogville, The Quest of a Frog, a children's book.

Laura Kingsley Hong
Tucker Ellis LLP

Laura Kingsley Hong chair of the Tucker Ellis Mass Tort & Product Liability Group, defends clients in class action, toxic tort, product liability, and commercial litigation. With decades of first-chair trial experience and nearly 20 years as national counsel, she spearheads legislative initiatives and leads strategy for clients. A former law professor of trial tactics, Laura writes and speaks frequently in these areas, as well as ethics, equity and inclusion.

Malika Johnson
Tanenbaum Keale

Malika Johnson specializes in complex civil litigation, focusing on toxic tort, product liability and medical devices. Prior to joining Tanenbaum Keale LLP, she was a partner with Williams Kastner and a deputy prosecuting attorney in the special assault unit of the Pierce County Office of the Prosecuting Attorney. Ms. Johnson has a wide range of experience in the litigation of cases from initial investigation through trial. She has served on local, regional and national counsel teams employing innovative strategies to deliver exceptional client service and results.

John P. Katerndahl
Selman Breitman LLP

John P. Katerndahl is a Partner in Selman Breitman's Los Angeles office and is a member of the firm's Toxic Tort/Environmental, Products Liability, and General Liability practice groups. John represents manufacturers, suppliers, contractors, and premises owners in toxic tort, product liability, and construction cases, including cases arising out of asbestos and chemical exposures, catastrophic injury and high value property damage. John is called upon to first-chair high value mesothelioma cases in which plaintiffs routinely seek multi-million dollar awards. His clients have included Fortune 500 companies, the world's largest construction contractor, and an international chemical company. He has tried over 20 mesothelioma cases since 2003 with 15 to verdict and the balance settled after plaintiff's attorneys dramatically reduced their settlement demands during trial. He has also won defense verdicts in claimed asbestosis and lung cancer cases. Additionally, John has successfully briefed and argued appeals in asbestos cases before the California First District Court of Appeal and the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Elizabeth (Betsy) Kelly
Hawkins Parnell & Young LLP

Elizabeth (Betsy) Kelly focuses her practice on defending manufacturers, distributors, premises owners, and their insurers involved in product liability, toxic tort, environmental, and general liability litigation. She has experience in all stages of litigation from pleadings through appeals including initial responses, factual investigations, discovery, development of product-line specific defenses and witnesses, motion practice, trial work-up, as well as post-trial motions and briefing. She is also experienced in advising and implementing strategy to assist clients with managing their risks arising in multi-jurisdictional, high-volume litigation. During law school, Betsy served as a judicial extern for The Honorable Neil P. Olack, United States Bankruptcy Court for The Southern District of Mississippi. Prior to entering private practice, she served as a law clerk for The Honorable Jess H. Dickinson, Presiding Justice, Mississippi Supreme Court.

Christopher (Kip) Makuc
Pace Claims Services LLC

Christopher (Kip) Makuc is a Managing Director at PACE Claims Services, LLC in Washington, DC. Mr. Makuc has significant experience providing accounting, financial, and litigation support services to clients involved in mass torts, particularly asbestos bodily injury claims. Since joining the firm in 1995, Mr. Makuc has assisted policyholders, insurers, reinsurers, financial institutions, bankruptcy trusts, and their legal counsel on a variety of asbestos environmental, and other product liability and insurance matters, including claim file reviews, claim data analysis, document production reviews, claim categorization, insurance and reinsurance recovery, future liability estimation, coverage analysis and disputes, bankruptcy analyses, and claim cost allocation and insurer billing. In 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018, Mr. Makuc was recognized by Who's Who Legal as one of the leading insurance and reinsurance expert witnesses in the United States and United Kingdom. Mr. Makuc has prepared expert reports and testified on behalf of both insurers and policyholders on claim data analytics, insurance claim valuation, and allocation matters. He prepares estimations of future claim liability for dozens of entities involved in the asbestos litigation.

John C. (Jack) McCants
Maron Marvel Bradley Anderson & Tardy LLC

John C. (Jack) McCants represents numerous clients in general litigation, product liability and toxic tort matters throughout the United States. Jack has considerable experience defending general product liability, personal injuries, construction contract formation and project representation (all phases), construction defect litigation, toxic tort, and pharmaceutical matters. He serves clients by handling a wide range of tasks from local day-to-day case management and motion practice, to coordinating complex litigation strategies within a collective client docket as regional and national counsel. Jack has successfully litigated thousands of claims alleging asbestos, PCB and welding rod fume exposure in some of the most high risk jurisdictions in the country. His background in the field of toxicology and his diverse toxic tort experience allows him to consistently provide innovative tactical insight, effective implementation of cost efficient strategies, and successful solutions to his client's complex problems. Jack previous served as Judicial Clerk to the Honorable James E. Thomas, Mississippi Court of Appeals. He is also an Adjunct Professor with the Mississippi College School of Law.

Mary McKelvey
Polsinelli LLP

Mary McKelveyis a fierce and highly respected trial attorney who is influential in every aspect of her career, i.e. in litigating difficult cases for national and global clients, in successfully assuming leadership positions at the state and local bar levels, in creating strategies for resolution, in handling high stakes pro bono cases, in supporting the next generation of women lawyers, in mentoring at-risk non-lawyer women, and proactively influencing key issues in both the legal and larger community. Mary has been successfully trying complicated, high stakes cases involving complex torts, product liability and premises liability to verdict in various jurisdictions for approximately 20 years. In addition to her extensive trial experience, Mary has a wide range of experience in all stages of litigation. Mary masterfully presents complex facts, concepts, historical data, scientific data, and other complicated issues in ways that jurors and judges can understand, appreciate and use to arrive at decisions favorable to her clients.

Albert H. (Al) Parnell
Albert H. Parnell PC

Albert H. (Al) Parnell is a nationally recognized trial attorney. He has spent his entire career preparing, managing, and trying product liability, environmental and toxic tort cases. Mr. Parnell has tried more than 300 cases in 32 states. Mr. Parnell, an authority on asbestos medicine, is frequently requested to speak on medical, state of-the-art, firm management, and ethics issues. He is a founding member of DRI's Law Institute and a former member of the DRI Board of Directors. Retired from Hawkins Parnell & Young LLP, he currently serves on Boards and performs independent consulting work.

Todd J. Suddleson
DeHay & Elliston LLP

Todd J. Suddleson is a partner in the Dallas office of DeHay & Elliston. He has been active in asbestos litigation for almost 30 years and has tried cases on behalf of numerous companies as a first chair trial attorney. He has obtained favorable verdicts for defendants in various jurisdictions throughout the country including Texas, California, Maryland, Massachusetts, Florida, Washington and Arizona. He has also presented on topics involving asbestos litigation at seminars around the country including DRI and ALI-ABA.