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OVERVIEW

Litigation When it counts

We believe that there is no substitute for our national presence, deep and diverse bench, and hard-earned tactical trial experience. Our proven case management and technological skills, unwavering perseverance, and litigation and industry know-how aid us in seeking the right result for clients.

Barnes & Thornburg offers one of the most effective, active and proven trial practices in the country. Annually, our team tries more than 20 cases to successful conclusion before judges and juries across the U.S. Our litigators are client-focused problem-solvers and tireless advocates who think beyond the law when protecting each client’s bottom line. We focus on delivering superior quality and eliminating unnecessary expense.

Our national team encompasses nearly 200 litigators who litigate and try single- and multi-plaintiff claims for public and private corporate and government clients with millions of dollars at stake, as well as national class actions and multidistrict litigation (MDLs) with billions of dollars in dispute. Our focus on excellence and trial experience encourages favorable settlement even when up against intractable cases.

Our decades of trial practice enable us to appropriately evaluate potential case outcomes and costs, and we work diligently to ease the stress of litigation on business owners and in-house counsel. We are dedicated to assembling the right team of litigators, not necessarily the largest. With the client in mind, we employ legal project management strategies to promote successful outcomes that align with client budgets and goals. Big or small, complicated or seemingly straightforward, local or national – we stand ready to take on even the most complex litigation and emergencies on short notice.

We handle the full range of commercial and business law claims, as well as disputes pertaining to intellectual property, labor and employment, product liability, environmental, antitrust, toxic tort, fraud and white collar crime. We routinely advise on litigation prevention, compliance, investigations and data security, and are skilled in the areas of electronic discovery and computer forensics. Sophisticated jury research, trial consulting and courtroom graphics are available to our clients through our subsidiary, ThemeVision LLC.

Practice Leaders

Randall Brown

D. Randall Brown

Partner
Litigation Department Chair, Fort Wayne Managing Partner

Fort Wayne

P 260-425-4674

F 260-424-8316

William Mc Erlean

William M. McErlean

Partner
Litigation Department Chair Emeritus

Chicago

P 312-214-8820

F 312-759-5646

EXPERIENCE
  • A Barnes & Thornburg attorney acted as liaison counsel for a group of national and international companies in a class action property damage lawsuit brought by several hundred landfill neighbors; plaintiffs allege that vinyl chloride from the landfill contaminated private drinking water wells and created a vapor intrusion risk. (This matter occurred prior to joining Barnes & Thornburg LLP.)
  • A Barnes & Thornburg attorney defended a chemical distributor against a potential state enforcement lawsuit alleging that the company had disposed of hazardous waste in a non-hazardous waste landfill.
  • A Barnes & Thornburg attorney defended a distributor of industrial chemicals against CERCLA (Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act) cost recovery claims and breach of lease and property damage claims arising from soil and groundwater contamination at a former chemical distribution facility. (This matter occurred prior to joining Barnes & Thornburg LLP.)
  • A Barnes & Thornburg attorney defended several suits on behalf of an oil company involved in numerous property damage cases that arose from the alleged migration of gasoline and waste oil from service stations. (This matter occurred prior to joining Barnes & Thornburg LLP.)
  • A Barnes & Thornburg attorney has defended clients in numerous Superfund cases and related cost recovery litigation in Oklahoma, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio, Kentucky, Oregon, Illinois, Michigan, and Indiana.
  • A Barnes & Thornburg attorney has defended manufacturer against allegations that its hazardous waste handling and disposal procedures violated various hazardous waste and air emission regulations. The firm’s representation included performance of a plant-wide RCRA (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act) and Clean Air Act audit.
  • A Barnes & Thornburg attorney is currently defending an Illinois municipal client against more than 19 lawsuits, including two class actions, arising from alleged contamination of a municipal water supply. The lawsuits involve several hundred plaintiffs and assert theories of wrongful death, fraud, fear of injury and negligence.
  • A Barnes & Thornburg attorney obtained dismissal of felony criminal hazardous waste charges as part of the defense of an electroplating company that had been indicted for allegedly disposing of hazardous waste into a municipal sewer system. (This matter occurred prior to joining Barnes & Thornburg LLP.)
  • A Barnes & Thornburg attorney represented a chemical distributor in a class action product liability case filed in Alabama federal court. Plaintiffs were coal miners who sought to have the case certified as a national class action, including numerous state sub-classes. They alleged that they were exposed to isocyanates contained in mine roof stabilization products, and that the alleged chemical exposure caused a variety of respiratory ailments and other injuries. Class Certification claims were defeated and individual claims were resolved favorably on client’s behalf. (This matter occurred prior to joining Barnes & Thornburg LLP.)
  • A Barnes & Thornburg attorney served as national counsel for supplier of agricultural chemicals, and has obtained dismissals or favorable settlements in lawsuits related to alleged soil and groundwater contamination in North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi, Kentucky, and Florida.
  • A Barnes & Thornburg team led by partners Andrew Detherage and Charles Edwards representing Simon Property Group, a global leader in retail real estate ownership, management and development, won a $204 million jury verdict after a six-week trial in Nashville, Tenn. The trial related to flood losses that occurred in May 2010 at the Opry Mills mall in Nashville. The verdict included both covered losses and consequential damages in excess of the coverage limits. The jury also awarded additional consequential damages in an amount to be determined by the trial judge.

    The trial involved 17 insurers who refused to pay for losses above the first $50 million layer of coverage. The verdict follows a favorable summary judgment ruling in March 2015 in which the court ruled that up to $200 million in coverage was available for the loss. The case had been pending for five years and involved more than 130 depositions, including more than 20 experts, along with dozens of motions for partial summary judgment and motions in limine, and a successful effort to defeat a motion to compel appraisal.

    Assisting Detherage and Edwards were Christian Jones, Dennis Stolle, Joseph Chapelle, Curt Greene, Lindsey Dates, Rachel Lerman, Andrea Warren, Kara Cleary, and Brooke Aurs.
  • Administrative Law Judge trial defense of road commission for soil erosion and sedimentation claims, including water resources protection; favorable settlement after 2 days of trial.
  • As trial counsel, achieved favorable outcomes in a series of eight class action, personal injury, and property damage lawsuits on behalf of a supplier of industrial solvents where plaintiffs alleged contamination of private drinking water supplies in Illinois; successful results in these cases were achieved either through a jury trial, settlement, or a summary judgment motion. (This matter occurred prior to joining Barnes & Thornburg LLP.)
  • Barnes & Thornburg attorneys served as trial counsel for an international aerospace industry manufacturing company defending against class action property damage lawsuit arising from alleged TCE and PCE contamination of a municipal water supply in Ohio. (This matter occurred prior to joining Barnes & Thornburg LLP.)
  • Barnes & Thornburg attorneys successfully defended a major manufacturing company in a lawsuit where more than 1,000 individual plaintiffs allege personal injuries and property value diminution arising out of lead dust emissions from the operation of a smelter in Detroit, Michigan. (This matter occurred prior to joining Barnes & Thornburg LLP.)
  • Defense of Allied Paper for Kalamazoo River PCB contribution claims.
  • Defense of City of Bay City for natural resources damages (NRD) claims arising from Saginaw River & Bay; settlement with Federal, State and Tribal Trustees.
  • Defense of Marley-Wylain Company in proposed class action on behalf of school children in nuisance air emissions lawsuit; dismissal of Complaint against client.
  • Defense of RCRA hazardous waste management penalty and closure claims; related F006 waste delisting appeal (United States Court of Appeals for District of Columbia Circuit).
  • Defense of soil nutrient land application private nuisance case for property damage and personal injury in jury trial with "no cause" verdict in favor of defendants.
  • Defense of stormwater criminal prosecution, with dismissal of corporate officer.
  • Defense of third-party defendants in Waukegan Harbor sediments contamination litigation, resulting in de minimis contributor settlement.
  • Defended client in small claims bench trial where plaintiff alleged injuries by a product distributed by client's store. Judge found for client.
  • Representation of municipal utility in defense of Sierra Club administrative contested case challenge of NPDES Permit (including ash pond groundwater monitoring); Mandamus litigation in Circuit Court to compel MDEQ issuance of air permit, and successfully opposed Sierra Club intervention, affirmed on appeal; intervened and successfully defended Sierra Club/Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) challenges in Circuit Court to air permit to install for coal-fired power plant, affirmed on appeal.
  • Represented bank in construction financing for new clubhouse and related course improvements at Harbor Shores Golf Course in Benton Harbor, Michigan. Issues included support from local non profit community development foundation as well as significant environmental issues.
  • Represented seller of land in dispute with distant purchaser over clean up costs under the Indiana Underground Storage Tank Act.
  • Represented two entrepreneurs in a fraud case against two other individuals involved in the VideoGames YouTube channel. Our clients alleged fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, tortious interference, conspiracy and breach of contract concerning the formation and operation of the VideoGames YouTube channel. The North Texas federal jury decided in favor of our clients and awarded nearly $34 million, which included $16 million in punitive damages. The jury determined that the partnership existed and also found that our clients owned 60 percent of the partnership. The case was tried in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.
  • The Indiana Supreme Court denied a petition to transfer jurisdiction in a class-action suit over medical records fees involving firm client HealthPort Technologies, LLC, a medical records company based in Georgia. In 2014, Garrison Law Firm, a personal injury firm in Indianapolis, requested copies of several of its clients' medical records from a health care provider, who outsourced the services to HealthPort. After conducting a search, HealthPort did not locate any records and thus had nothing to produce to Garrison. HealthPort sent Garrison a $20 invoice to cover the labor costs incurred responding to each request, which Garrison paid. In August 2014, Garrison filed a class-action complaint against HealthPort alleging that the $20 labor fees violated Indiana law as part of a coordinated effort by several plaintiffs' firms that filed multiple class-action complaints against HealthPort in numerous states under similar theories. After deciding to make a stand in Indiana, HealthPort prevailed at the Indiana Court of Appeals, which reversed the trial court and ordered it to enter judgment in HealthPort’s favor on all of Garrison’s claims. The Indiana Supreme Court then denied Garrison's petition to transfer jurisdiction, effectively closing the issue in Indiana. HealthPort Techs., LLC v. Garrison Law Firm, LLC, 51 N.E.3d 1236 (Ind. Ct. App. 2016).
  • The United States government, acting through the Department of Justice Environmental Crimes Section, the Environmental Protection Agency and the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana, filed a 26-count criminal indictment against United Water Services, Inc. (United Water), one of the country’s largest water and wastewater treatment companies, and two of its managers, Dwain Bowie and Gregory Ciaccio; alleging that the defendants tampered with legally required monitoring methods while managing the Gary Wastewater Treatment Facility for the City of Gary from 2003 to 2008, thus violating the Clean Water Act.

    On November 9, 2012, after a two-week trial in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, which followed a four-year federal government investigation led by the EPA, the FBI and the Department of Justice, a federal jury acquitted United Water and the two managers of all allegations. The prosecutions marked the first time the government brought tampering charges without proof of actual alteration of compliance samples. Judge Simon accepted the Barnes & Thornburg team’s proposed definitions of what constitutes tampering under the Clean Water Act.

    The verdict represents a complete vindication for the company and the accused individuals, avoids multi-million dollar fines and penalties, as well as possible imprisonment for the employees, and prevents a potentially business-ending debarment from future waste water and drinking water treatment business within the United States.

    Leading the defense were partners Larry Mackey, Patrick Cotter and Harold Bickham, with primary assistance from partner George Horn and assistance throughout the trial by associates Tim Haley and Meredith Rieger.

    United States v. United Water Services, Inc., Dwain Bowie and Gregory Ciaccio, Case No. 2:10 Cr 217.
PROFESSIONALS

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