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American Bar Association

Products Liability Committee



Welcome to the Products Liability website! We are an open, friendly and diverse Committee, combining lawyers of all ages and backgrounds, who come from around the country and work in different practice settings. We are not so large that you will feel lost in the crowd; and large enough with enthusiasm to spare to mount significant CLE programs and other member benefits.

If you have an interest in national, regional or local program planning, publishing articles about the law, creating online columns or CLE, and would like to work with a highly collegial and diverse group of lawyers with interests in products liability law and practice, then you've come to the right Committee!



CLE: Women in Products Liability

Held at Blank Rome's Philadelphia office on Thursday, November 3, 2016, from 8:00 a.m.–4:30 p.m. EST.


WIPL Co-Chairs Tonya Newman and Janelle Davis, along with their planning committee, are looking forward to an outstanding program for this annual event.  Planning committee members include Courtenay Youngblood Jalics, Siobhan A. Cullen, Shira Roemer Greenbaum and Lauren O'Donnell.  Here is the lineup of excellent program topics.  Register for this exceptional program.


Women as First Chairs
This panel will offer an interactive, engaging discussion of Stephanie Scharf’s and Bobbi Leibenberg’s report “First Chairs at Trial: More Women Needed at the Table.” This report is “a first-of-its-kind empirical study of the participation of women and men as lead counsel and trial attorneys in criminal and civil litigation,” and the gender gap in the ranks of lead trial lawyers. [A Note from the Authors, “First Chairs at Trial.”]


The More Things Change…Daubert Dos and Don’ts
Discussion of the current state of the law regarding Daubert challenges to expert testimony in products liability cases, including setting up a Daubert Motion at the outset of your case,  tips on preparing for and taking the deposition of your adversary’s expert, as well as engaging in effective fact discovery, to set up a strong Daubert challenge. 


Silent Partners in Litigation- A New Model for an Old Problem
Analysis of third party litigation financing, it’s history and increased use to fund various types of litigation from products claims to large scale royalty litigation in oil and gas cases to intellectual property disputes.  The panel will also discuss court opinions regarding  third party financing generally, whether these arrangements are discoverable, and whether they are appropriate under the ethics rules governing attorney conduct.


From the Inside Out: Strategies for Making An Impression Before, During, and After A Case
This don’t-miss panel will provide concrete tips and strategies for demonstrating your value to both internal and external clients before, during, and after litigation. Topics include getting the business; best practices for managing e-discovery; and pre-trial and trial strategy tips furthering relationships after the litigation ends.


Trial Skills, Trial-Focused Discovery: What You Need and How to Use It
Discussion of how to obtain and effectively use discovery that will be most beneficial at trial.  Among other things, this panel will discuss and describe the different goals of discovery and explain the importance of developing and implementing a trial-focused discovery strategy, focusing on written discovery and depositions.


CLE: Current Issues in Pharmaceutical, Medical Device, and Biotech Litigation

Held at GSK in Philadelphia, PA, on November 3–4, 2016.


Pharma/Device/Biotech Co-Chairs Tamar Kelber, Debra Perry and Peter Pappas will present a full day of premier programming for this annual favorite.  Their program co-chairs are Makenzie Windfelder and Tariq M. Naeem.  Below is an overview of the panel topics you will enjoy.  Don’t miss out, register now.  See the program brochure for additional information and details.


Navigating relationships with codefendants and third party witnesses  
Analysis of changes in state of law regarding ex parte communications with prescribing HCPs, interaction with third party witnesses and other non-pharma/device defendants.


Effectively Addressing Cybersecurity Breaches: The Inherent Risks, Impacts of Security Decisions, and Practical Approaches
Modern and connected medical devices include an increasing array of features that can be intentionally or unintentionally misused. This panel will explore the vulnerabilities and risks inherent with embedded and connected devices and the range of impacts these have on medical devices. Panelists will also share practical approaches companies may employ after a breach but will also address, broadly, how to more effectively address cybersecurity risks, including engineering, policy, expertise/team makeup, and others.


There’s No Place Like Home: The Pros and Cons of Lexecon Waivers and Bellwether Trials in the Modern MDL 
This panel will explore recent trends in Multi-District Litigation, including regional and client-driven considerations that weigh into an assessment of desired venue and bellwether trial strategy.  We will discuss the impact of waiving rights to original trial venue under Lexecon v. Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach, and the increasing move toward bellwether trials in recent MDLs.  We will look at the rationale behind “Lexecon Waivers,” how they have changed the modern landscape of MDL practice, and whether the benefits of waiving venue objections are as advantageous as they once seemed.


The FDA and Medical Devices 
This panel will evaluate the effective use of FDA evidence for medical devices, including the use and impact of 510(k) clearance data, and the role of the FDA in medical device product liability litigation.


Expert Vignettes
Discussions on several expert-focused topics, including IMEs, plaintiff expert strategies, in-house perspective on company fact witnesses who are also experts, and judicial perspectives on Daubert motions and science education.


A Primer for Handling Your First Products Liability Case

Products liability cases involve complex issues requiring strategic decisions throughout the life of the case. The Committee has put together this Core Knowledge document to serve as a checklist for things to consider when you receive your first products liability case.


Young Lawyers Subcommittee Monthly Conference Calls

The YLS monthly call will take place on the first Tuesday of September and November at 3 p.m. Eastern time. The dial-in number for the call is 1-888-857-4030. The passcode is 540066.


Women in Products Liability Subcommittee Bi-Monthly Conference Calls

The WIPL monthly call will take place on the third Tuesday September and November/em>at 4:00 p.m. Eastern time. The dial-in number for the call is 1-888-857-4030. The passcode is 540066.


Pharmaceutical, Medical Device & Biotech Subcommittee Bi-Monthly Conference Call

The Pharmaceutical, Medical Device & Biotech Subcommittee bi-monthly conference call will take place on the third Wednesday of June, August, October and December at 4:00 pm ET. The dial-in number for the call is 641-715-3580.  The passcode is 324436.


Consumer Products Subcommittee Monthly Conference Calls

The Consumer Products Subcommittee monthly conference takes place on the third Wednesday of every month at 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time. The dial-in number for the call is 1-855-888-6338.  The passcode is 545442.


Seeking Contributors to Our Website and Publications

The Products Liability Committee is seeking contributors to its website and publications. We welcome any articles for the webpage or newsletter. This is a great way to get involved, network with some of the best litigators in the country, and contribute to building a valuable resource for products liability litigators. If you have cases of interest, articles, or other resources to add to our website or newsletter, please contact the editors listed below.

Message from the Chairs


August 2015

As we enjoy the rest of summer and complete the bar year, it is a good time to start planning our fall activities!


We hope you will join us at the annual Current Issues in Pharmaceutical, Medical Device and Biotech Litigation Regional Meeting, which will be held on October 2, 2015, at Pfizer in New York City. A welcome reception and networking dine-arounds will take place on the evening of October 1, so plan ahead to join us. Also you won’t want to miss the second The Women of the Section of Litigation Conference: Leading, Litigating & Connecting, which will take place November 11–13, 2015, in Chicago, Illinois, at the Swissôtel. Our Women in Products Liability (WIPL) chairs are planning a WIPL networking dinner on November 11, as well as a full day of WIPL tracks and networking on November 12, followed by a day of plenaries and more networking with all conference attendees on November 13. Registration for both of these meetings will be open soon, so keep checking back. Our Joint CLE chairs are busy planning next year’s meeting with the Environmental and Mass Torts Committees, which will be in Park City, Utah, on January 21–23, 2016, at the Grand Summit and Canyons Resort. If you are interested in getting involved in the Products Liability Committee, this is a “must attend” meeting as this is when we plan our activities for the year.


We appreciate the hard work being done by all of our subcommittees. A special thanks is in order for our retiring Committee Cochairs, Lara White and Richard Gaal. Their tireless efforts these past three years have built this committee into a “well-oiled machine,” which provides significant benefits to our membership. We will miss Lara and Richard immensely but know they will remain involved in the ABA and the Products Liability Committee. Lara is the incoming cochair for the ABA Annual Meeting to be held in San Francisco in 2016, and Richard is joining the Mass Torts Committee as its new cochair.


We welcome Dale Weppner and Sam Felker as the new Product Liability Cochairs. Sam Felker is a shareholder in Baker Donelson's Nashville office and focuses his litigation practice on the defense of product liability, food safety, mass torts, and commercial cases. In pharmaceutical and medical device litigation, Sam has served as national, regional, and local counsel in defending manufacturers throughout the United States. Sam has been involved in the ABA Section of Litigation for many years including leadership positions in  the Products Liability Committee and recently as Chair of the Health Law Committee. Dale Weppner is an shareholder  in  Greensfelder’s St. Louis office where he primarily focuses his litigation practice on the defense of  product liability and traumatic personal injury claims, including trucking and transportation related accidents,  mass tort litigation, as well as class action and general business, and complex commercial litigation  claims. Like Sam, Dale has been involved in several ABA Section of Litigation committees over the years, including serving as Cochair of Sound Advice, the Section’s Marketing and Membership Committee, and Pro Bono Committee.


If you or someone you know is interested in joining our dynamic committee, please contact us and our Membership Cochairs will reach out to them. There are many opportunities for leadership, speaking, moderating, writing, and meeting planning, all of which are possible through the work of the subcommittee leadership and subcommittee efforts. 




Sarah G. Cronan, Samuel L. Felker, and Dale M. Weppner
Cochairs, Products Liability Committee, 2015–2016


Our active subcommittees include:

  • Website
  • Newsletter
  • Membership
  • Automotive
  • Medical Device
  • Class Actions
  • Consumer Products
  • Food/Supplements


  • Corporate Counsel
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Chemical
  • Biotech
  • Women in Products Liability Litigation
  • Young Lawyers
  • Annual Meeting

Find contact information for committee and subcommittee chairs:

Navigant Partners

Patrick McGrath

Products Liability Leadership

Cochairs Web Editors Newsletter Editors

Sarah Grider Cronan

Charlotte, NC

Sam Felker

Nashville, TN

Dale Weppner

St. Louis, MO

Alina Rodriguez

Miami, FL

Makenzie Windfelder

Wilmington, DE

Patrick Fowler

Phoenix, AZ

Andrew Bowman

Oklahoma City, OK