NJ Law Journal, Litigation Dept. of the Year 2014, Front row, from left to right: Zane Riester, John Garde, Barbara Gotthelf, Debra Perry, Natalie Watson. Back row, from left to right: Kenneth Meyer, Edward Fanning, Matthew Tharney, David Kott, David Cooner.
NJ Law Journal, Litigation Dept. of the Year 2014, Front row, from left to right: Zane Riester, John Garde, Barbara Gotthelf, Debra Perry, Natalie Watson. Back row, from left to right: Kenneth Meyer, Edward Fanning, Matthew Tharney, David Kott, David Cooner. (Carmen Natale)

McCarter & English’s Products Liability group has a long tenure of service as national and regional counsel, defense medical counsel and lead counsel in consolidated and multidistrict litigations across a broad range of industries.

The group is responsible for selecting, training and coordinating the activities of defense counsel in various states and abroad; preparing pretrial discovery responses, document production responses and pretrial motions; tracking and analyzing medical and scientific literature; selecting and preparing expert witnesses; developing expert testimony; challenging dubious experts and junk science; and leading trial of cases.

The group makes deft use of technology and personnel to handle cases, regardless of the scale or locale, from intake through case and calendar management, discovery, and disposition, whether by trial or settlement.

The group is counsel of record in scores of published cases and has filed numerous amicus briefs in landmark appeals at the request of industry and trade groups.

The group’s lawyers have held a variety of leadership positions within the defense bar, and have lectured and published with regards to a wide range of issues relevant to product manufacturers.

The group is predominantly organized around three areas: pharmaceuticals and medical devices; mass and toxic torts; and consumer and industrial products.

Seven partners in the group are New Jersey based:

Edward Fanning Jr., the group chairman, is a past president and member of the board of directors of the New Jersey Defense Association. He also serves as the New Jersey state representative to the national Defense Research Institute and as a trustee of the Association of the Federal Bar of New Jersey. His broad experience in civil litigation is strong on defense of claims against manufacturers of pharmaceuticals, medical devices, consumer products and industrial equipment. Fanning defends class-action litigation brought under consumer protection and consumer fraud statutes in state and federal courts and has done extensive appellate work in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and the New Jersey Supreme Court, often authoring amicus briefs.

David Kott focuses his practice on litigation and has extensive jury trial experience in the areas of products liability, consumer fraud and commercial cases involving products, having tried over 50 jury trials to verdict in state and federal courts in New Jersey as well as in New York, Massachusetts, Florida, Texas and Virginia. He has also been lead counsel in class actions. Kott is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and an associate of the American Board of Trial Advocates.

David Cooner handles civil litigation with an emphasis on representing medical product manufacturers, pharmaceutical and chemical companies, and other manufacturers in product liability cases, as well as representing health-care organizations and other business entities in a wide range of litigated matters and commercial disputes, and counseling such clients with regard to litigation management and risk avoidance. Cooner has represented numerous medical product manufacturers in the state and federal courts, defending claims involving a wide array of surgical tools, diagnostic and therapeutic medical devices, implants and durable medical equipment. He also has defended individual cases and served on teams that have managed and handled national, regional and class-action litigations involving prescription medicines and devices. He has been counsel of record in more than 20 reported decisions.

Matthew Tharney has extensive experience litigating and counseling clients in the areas of product liability, construction, business disputes, personal injury, public entity liability and real property. As lead counsel, he has tried many jury trials to verdict and bench trials to judgment, and has litigated cases in state and federal courts throughout the U.S. Tharney’s product liability experience includes defending claims against manufacturers of pharmaceuticals, consumer products and commercial equipment. Tharney has handled all aspects of appellate practice, including several successful cases before the New Jersey Superior Court Appellate Division and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. He also has extensive experience with alternative dispute resolution and routinely conducts mediation and arbitration proceedings.

Debra Perry advises regulated biological product, pharmaceutical, and medical device companies on legal and compliance issues during the development, marketing and distribution phases of their products. She also defends pharmaceutical and other manufacturers in mass-tort product liability litigation at the trial and appellate levels in state and federal courts.

John Garde is a products liability litigator of more than 25 years experience, with an emphasis on the national defense of pharmaceutical products liability litigation and the coordination of mass tort products liability litigation involving occupational exposures.

Kenneth Meyer, a senior trial lawyer in the Product Liability group, is primarily a commercial litigator who defends complex product liability, mass tort, and significant personal injury and property damage cases. He has litigated cases in state and federal courts in 27 states, has acted as defense liaison counsel for branded pharmaceutical companies, and serves as national coordinating, regional and local counsel.

Barbara Gotthelf focuses her practice on products liability and general litigation in state and federal court. She defends pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers and coordinates mass tort products liability litigation involving occupational exposures. Gotthelf has been part of the national counsel team managing litigation for major pharmaceutical companies, and she has served as liaison counsel for sand suppliers in the silica litigation.

Natalie Watson represents Fortune 500 companies and pharmaceutical corporations in contract disputes and other claims. Her intellectual property practice includes defense of electronics corporations in licensing and contract disputes and prosecution of antitrust matters on behalf of flash memory technology aggregators.

Zane Riester focuses his practice in products liability litigation and complex litigation, with an emphasis on pharmaceutical and medical device defense. He has represented pharmaceutical clients that include manufacturers of hormone therapies, cox-2 inhibitors, atypical antipsychotics and allergy medications. His medical device experience includes orthopedic products, surgical instruments and ophthalmological products. •

McCarter & English by the Numbers
Firm-wide N.J. Office
Department Size 221 113
Department as percentage of firm (head-count) 59.4% 30.4%
Department as percentage of firm (revenue) 55% 27%