2023 DRI Strictly Automotive Seminar

August 16–18, 2023 | Washington, D.C.

Car manufactured assembly line robots

Network with Industry Insiders in Our Nation’s Capital!

Join us for a timely seminar focused on current issues affecting those who practice in the automotive space. Stay up to date on emerging technologies, electric vehicles (EV), Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG), and supply chain developments. Gain perspective from in-house counsel regarding their business and legal concerns. Additionally, attain deeper knowledge from experienced trial counsel and experts about key litigation trends and best practices for defending various types of automotive claims.

View registration information here, and make sure to register by July 17 for the best pricing!

What You Will Learn:

  • Emerging automotive technologies, including how they impact the transportation ecosystem and claims related to vehicle accidents.
  • The latest trends, strategies, and best practices for defending consumer warranty litigation and reducing the number of claims, class actions, punitive damages, and fee awards.
  • Opportunities and challenges presented by the intersection of EV, ESG, and supply chain issues.
  • Defending optional equipment decisions in heavy truck litigation.
  • Expert insight and case studies related to crashworthiness claims, airbags, and child restraint systems.

Expand Your Network By:

  • Forging new connections through a newly developed Premier Networking Reception on Thursday night.
  • Joining the interactive Networking Lunch on Thursday with fellow DRI members from other committees.
  • Reconnecting with friends, colleagues, and clients at dine-arounds on both Wednesday and Thursday nights.
  • Joining Fire Science Seminar attendees on Wednesday at an off-site facility where experts, with the assistance of the great folks at DC Fire and EMS, will have multiple live burn stations (limited availability).

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Thank You to DRI's Product Liability Committee Leadership

Elizabeth Moyo
Elizabeth Moyo
Program Chair
Natalie Eschbach
Natalie Eschbach
Program Vice Chair
Gretchen N. Miller
Gretchen Miller
Committee Chair
Fred E. (Trey) Bourn III
Trey Bourn
Committee Vice Chair
Roman Lifson
Roman Lifson
Law Institute

Join the Product Liability Committee

Registration Information

Save up to $500 when you register on or before July 17!

Register Now

Member Pricing Non-Member Pricing
Early Bird Registration* $1,195 $1,395
Regular Registration* $1,395 $1,695
Group Registration (Non-Sponsored)** $1,095/person $1,095/person
Government Government members will receive the applicable government rate for the seminar upon login. If the government rate does not appear after logging in, please call DRI directly at (312) 795-1101 to receive the discounted rate. Invoices can be sent after purchase upon request.

*If your membership recently lapsed, please renew your membership prior to registering to ensure you receive your discounted member rate. If you would like to join DRI to receive the member pricing and see the benefits of becoming a member, click here to go to the Application page.

**Group registration is for registering four or more attendees, members and non-members. There is one free registration with every 10 registrations. You must lock in the rate three weeks prior to the seminar. If you want to register for the group pricing, fill out the form here (online registration is not available for this offering).

Networking Events

Premier Networking Reception
Sponsored by Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP

Date: Thursday, August 17 from 6:00–8:00 p.m.
Pricing: Free when you register for the seminar; all attendees must be 21+ (guest tickets are $100 each, available at check-out. A limited number of guest tickets may be available on site for $125 each.)
Location: Heights Courtyard at the Washington Hilton

Join the Senior Living, Fire Science, Strictly Automotive, and Talc Litigation Seminars for a relaxing evening at the Heights Courtyard, an outdoor plaza off the lobby level of the Washington Hilton. Complement your networking with cocktails, soft drinks, wine, assorted beers, and light appetizers.

Agenda with Speakers

*Schedule and Speakers subject to change

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Time (Eastern) Program Location
10:00 a.m. Live Burn at Washington D.C. EMS Fire and Training Academy

More details to come.

1:00 p.m. Registration
6:00 p.m. Networking/Cocktail Hour
7:30 p.m. Dine-Arounds

Join colleagues and friends at selected restaurants for dinner (on your own).

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Time (Eastern) Program Location
8:00 a.m. Registration
8:30 a.m. Coffee & Conversations

The early bird gets the most out of this networking session. Get to know the early risers in our group over a cup of coffee. Rise, shine, caffeinate and connect!
9:00 a.m. Welcome and Introductions

Roman Lifson, Christian and Barton, LLP, Richmond, VA
Elizabeth Moyo, Porter Wright Morris & Arthur, Columbus, OH

9:15 a.m. Emerging Technologies & How They Will Impact the Insurance Industry and the Transportation Ecosystem

The purpose of this presentation is to provide an up-to-date survey of various emergent technologies that are redefining Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), Advanced Vehicle Technology (AVT), and our concept of what constitutes a contemporary vehicle. Autonomous capabilities, telematics, black box data, and smart car connectivity are greatly influencing our transportation ecosystem, safety statistics, and driver engagement. With these changes come new challenges for the insurance industry, from defining who and what a driver and vehicle is to creating coverages that shift from personal negligence to the incorporation of product liability concepts. Other implications of the proliferation of new technology in our cars involve questioning who owns the driving data and who can use it and for what purpose. Finally, the presentation will showcase new vehicles themselves that disrupt the definition of a vehicle under current insurance policies and what product enhancements and innovations are in store in the near future.

John Danenberger, State Farm, Bloomington, IL
10:15 a.m. Coffee Break

10:30 a.m. Investigating Airbag Non-Deployment Claims: Case Studies

If an airbag within a vehicle fails to deploy in a crash and an occupant is injured as a result, litigation is sure to follow. This presentation focuses on the various claims and associated investigations regarding alleged airbag non-deployments. Case studies will be used to demonstrate the approach and methodology to investigate these cases, including assessment of vehicle deformation, crash dynamics, sensor conditions, EDR data analysis, relationship to other vehicle restraints, associated recalls, etc. Simple techniques all the way to simulations will be included.

Hernán Mercado-Corujo, P.E., CFEI, CVFI, ESi, Minneapolis, MN
George Wray, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, Ontario, Canada

11:30 a.m. Consumer Litigation: Updates, Pitfalls, and Best Practices (Joint Session with Fire Science)

This presentation will highlight the increasing threat that consumer warranty litigation poses to auto manufacturers and address key trends, including litigation involving corporate policies, class action-type discovery, and fraud and punitive damage claims. The panel will present key strategies to reduce the number of lawsuits filed and efforts to handle matters quickly to limit Plaintiff attorney fees.

Rob Shields, Wilson Turner Kosmo LLP, San Diego, CA

Luis Gomez, Ford Motor Company, Detroit, MI
Nicholas Johnson, Volkswagen of America, Inc., Washington D.C.

12:30 p.m. DRI Networking Lunch

Join the Strictly Automotive, Fire Science, and Senior Living and Long-Term Care and Litigation Seminar attendees for lunch and networking opportunities that are second to none.

DRI Cares | Blessings in a Backpack

On your way into lunch, support Blessings in a Backpack, DRI Cares and the DRI Foundation by filling a bag with food for a child experiencing food insecurity in our community. Feeding a child before you feed yourself is a wonderful way to make a difference in the lives of children and families all over our country and in this local community.

Click here for details.
2:00 p.m. Breakout 1: Live Burn De-Brief (Joint Session with Fire Science)

More details to come.

2:00 p.m. Breakout 2: Don't Be a Crash Test Dummy (Quick Hits)

Quick Hit #1: Using Public Crash Databases

Did you know that there is publicly available crash test data? Do you know where to find it? How to use it? How it might impact your evaluation of a case? Join us to learn how publicly available crash databases can provide an objective gut check of your case.

Tony Freund, Biodynamic Research Corporation, San Antonio, TX
Lars Reinhart, Biodynamic Research Corporation, San Antonio, TX

Quick Hit #2: Child Restraint Systems - Regulation Review & Evidence Correlation via Crash Testing

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that children up to age 8 be restrained in a child restraint system appropriate for their age, weight, and height. Multiple studies over many years consistently report that properly selected and installed child restraint systems provide effective protection for child passengers in vehicle crashes. Despite the best efforts of public safety professionals and a diverse set of advocacy groups, studies indicate that 50% or more child restraint systems are misused. To understand the performance of a child restraint system in a specific crash, oftentimes evidence on the vehicle interior, vehicle seat, vehicle restraints, child restraint system and harness can help identify interactions between them and the child passenger. Join us for a discussion of these fascinating issues and how the data and crash testing could impact your next case.

James R Chinni, P.E, Engineering Answers, Noblesville, IN
Eric Welp, CAPE, Carmel, IN
3:30 p.m. Small Group Networking Opportunities

Sign up for one of these options and start building your connections and developing relationships! More details to come.

6:00 p.m. Premier Networking Reception
Sponsored by Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP

Click here for details.
8:00 p.m. Dine-Arounds

Join colleagues and friends at selected restaurants for dinner (on your own).

Friday, August 18, 2023

Time (Eastern) Program Location
8:00 a.m. Registration and Coffee
9:00 a.m. Welcome and Announcements

Natalie Eschbach, Litchfield Cavo, Chicago, IL

9:10 a.m. The Intersection of EV, ESG, and Supply Chain Issues

The rise of electric vehicles complements shifting corporate values reflected in ESG and sustainability policies–but where does liability fit in? This presentation will address the effects of ESG measures on supply chains, the ways in which sustainability is changing products, how electric vehicles have changed liability concerns, and emerging technologies to counteract those new concerns.

Joanna Leong, Honda Canada, Inc., Toronto, Canada
Rachel Cooper, McMillan LLP, Toronto, Canada
Beth Mykytiuk, Zoox, Washington, D.C.

10:10 a.m. Coffee Break

10:25 a.m. Defending Optional Equipment Decisions in Heavy Duty Trucks

Product liability claims centered on the offering of equipment and features as optional are nothing new, and, as manufacturers innovate and products evolve, these claims are sure to continue. This experienced panel will discuss the challenges posed by these matters and effective defense strategies in the context of heavy truck litigation.

Vlada Tasich, Marshall Dennehey, Philadelphia, PA

Sally Bowman, Mack Trucks, Inc. and Volvo Group North America, Greensboro, NC
Akeem Williams, Daimler Trucks North America, Portland, OR

11:25 a.m. Structural Crashworthiness Response Strategies

When plaintiff attorneys and experts claim that the structure, or sheet metal, of a vehicle deformed too much, what is the best response? First, a deformation comparison in the relevant crash testing of the subject vehicle to similar peer vehicles can be made. The deformations measured in front, side, rear, and roof testing will be discussed. Second, a comparison of material strengths can be made. Information available from various automakers will be presented. Third, a physical buck comparison can be made. Fourth, a structural lineup can help refine the reconstruction, explain why the vehicles crushed as they did, and inform on the likely outcome of alternative designs or potential crash tests. Finally, the different types of crash testing will be discussed.

Harry Pearce, Exponent, Farmington, MI
Katherine Pennetti, Nelson Mullins, Plano, TX

12:25 p.m. Adjourn

Headquarters Hotel Information

A limited number of discounted hotel rooms have been made available at the Washington Hilton, 1919 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, D.C. 20009. Take advantage of the group rate of $219.00 Single/Double in one of two ways:

The hotel block is limited, and rooms and rates are available on a first-come, first-served basis. You must make reservations by July 18, 2023, to be eligible for the hotel’s group rate. Requests for reservations made after July 18 are subject to room and rate availability.

CLE Information

Earn up to seven (7.00) hours of continuing legal education hours (CLE) from this seminar.

Strictly Automotive CLE by State


DRI's Strictly Automotive Seminar is proudly sponsored by:

The Baluster Group logo BRC Analyzing How Injuries are Caused BSP Law logo
Campbell Trial Lawyers Cassels ESi Exponent logo InQuis Evidence-Based Rehab Experts Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP logo S-E-A Know.

Thank you to our Official Supporter: TBD

If you would like to contact DRI about seminar sponsorship opportunities, including pricing, or to reserve a spot, please go to Advertising and Sponsorship.

DRI Cares

Blessings in a Backpack

Blessings in a Backpack Who Will Feed the Kids this Weekend?

Please join our four August seminars in supporting Blessings in a Backpack, an organization that mobilizes communities, individuals, and resources to provide food on the weekends for school-aged children across America who might otherwise go hungry. Your donation will help purchase food to feed 500 children in the Washington, D.C. area. Seminar attendees will have the opportunity to fill bags of food on the way to the joint networking lunch on Thursday, August 17th. Feeding a child before you feed yourself is a wonderful way to support children and families in the D.C. area.

To donate online:

  1. Click the "Donate" button or scan the QR code below.
  2. If you have an account with DRI, log in. Use the same login that you registered for this seminar.
  3. If you do not have an account with DRI, create a guest account.
  4. Select from one of the gift amounts or set your own amount. The default value is $100.
  5. Select your DRI Committee from "My SLC/Region" dropdown box.
  6. Click “Submit Donation.”
  7. The page will refresh. Click “View Cart” to checkout.
  8. Enter your credit card information and click “Submit Order” once all required information is entered.


Substantive Law Committee QR Code Foundation Contributions


NEW in 2023 – Four Additional On-Demand Programs Included With Every Seminar!

CLE Credit will be sought from every state requiring CLE hours in elimination of bias/diversity and inclusion, ethics, substance abuse/mental health, and law practice management. The CLE grid will provide updated information concerning hours that have been approved by each jurisdiction and for which credits. For states not requiring these special credits, general education credits will be sought.

View On-Demand Library

Diversity/Elimination of Bias in the Profession

Invisible or Mixed-Visible Diversity – Combatting Bias

Often diversity programs and initiatives are focused on visible traits such as gender or race, but bias exists related to sexual orientation, gender identity, and some disabilities that are not readily visible to the eye. This panel will discuss how to address these biases and to create an environment where those with invisible or mixed-visible diversity can operate at the highest level.

Stacy Douglas, Everett Dorey LLP, Irvine, CA
Gary Howard, Bradley, Birmingham, AL
Ronna Kinsella, Glassman Wyatt Tuttle & Cox PC, Memphis, TN

Law Practice Management Credit

Succession Planning: Failing to Plan Is a Plan to Fail

Succession planning is considered one of the most pressing issues facing not only law firms but also clients. Senior partners are working into their golden years and can sometimes be reluctant to engage in a succession plan, but clients want to know that there is a plan for the transition of their work without interruption. Join us to learn:

  1. the importance of succession planning for the benefit both the law firm and its clients;
  2. how succession planning impacts retention and continuity of the firm and client relationships;
  3. how to approach the subject with senior attorneys; and
  4. strategies for implementing a successful succession plan.

Marie E. Chafe, Conn Kavanaugh, Boston, MA
Matthew Cairns, Textron Inc., Providence, RI
Elizabeth M. Brotten, Foley & Mansfield PLLP, Minneapolis, MN
Meade Hartfield, Bradley Arant, Birmingham, AL


Technology, Ethics & Remote Work: What You Need to Know Now

The Rules of Professional Conduct regarding competence and diligence require all lawyers to keep abreast of changes in technology. This webinar will provide you with tips and information on new issues related to technology and the practice of law, including the challenges of the remote work environment. You will learn the ethics and professionalism considerations when using technology in your practice and your ethical duties when it comes to “keeping abreast of changes” in technology.

Amber Garcia, Deutsch Kerrigan LLP, New Orleans, LA
Alyssa Johnson, Barron & Newberger PC, Milwaukee, WI
Clare Roubion, Louisiana Legal Ethics, LLC, Lafayette, LA

Mental Health & Attorney Wellness

Lessons for Lawyers from the Science of Well-Being

This presentation will focus on the practical steps that we can take as individuals to improve well-being, drawing on recent research from cognitive science and beginning with the preface that happiness can be learned and applied. Specifically, we will provide an evidence-based arsenal of practical tools that lawyers can apply in their own lives to improve their well-being.

Emma Ross, Goldman Ismail Tomaselli Brennan & Baum, Chicago, IL
Shayna Cook, Goldman Ismail Tomaselli Brennan & Baum, Chicago, IL

Other Information

If you have any questions or concerns regarding DRI programs, please contact DRI Customer Service at 312.795.1101 or custservice@dri.org.