Benchmark Litigation Recognizes 17 Dykema Attorneys; Firm Adds Leading Product Liability Attorney; And Secures Product Liability Win

Wednesday, September 24, 2014 - 10:28

Dykema has announced that 12 of its attorneys from six of the firm’s offices were named “local litigation stars” by Benchmark Litigation. Additionally, five of the firm's attorneys were named “future stars.”

Benchmark Litigation is the only publication to focus exclusively on U.S. litigation. The list of “local litigation stars” for each state reflects only those individuals who were recommended consistently as reputable and effective litigators by clients and peers. The list of “future stars” in each state reflects those partners who were consistently referenced by peers and clients as litigators who are likely to be become “local litigation stars” in coming editions of the guide.

The Dykema attorneys named “local litigation stars” and the offices where they reside are: Michael P. Cooney – Detroit; Samuel C. Damren – Detroit; James P. Feeney – Bloomfield Hills; Dennis M. Haffey – Bloomfield Hills; Patrick F. Hickey – Detroit; Thomas R. Hill – Chicago; Peter M. Kellett  – Detroit; Brian Melendez – Minneapolis; David J. Schenck – Dallas; Daniel J. Stephenson – Los Angeles; Edward S. Weil – Chicago; Derek S. Whitefield – Los Angeles

The Dykema attorneys named “future stars” and the offices where they reside are: Laura C. Baucus – Bloomfield Hills; Lisa A. Brown – Detroit; Tamara A. Bush – Los Angeles; Brittany M. Schultz  – Bloomfield Hills;  and Rosa M. Tumialán – Chicago.

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Dykema has announced the addition of Nicholas J. Wittner to its Product Liability practice as of counsel in the firm’s Bloomfield Hills office. Prior to joining Dykema, Mr. Wittner served as assistant general counsel for Nissan North America, where he was head of the Legal Department’s Product Group. He also previously served as executive attorney at General Motors.

Mr. Wittner, who teaches product liability law and practice as well as international civil litigation as a Professor of Law in Residence at the Michigan State University College of Law, has more than 30 years of experience managing product liability litigation, product-related class actions, and safety and environmental regulatory compliance matters. In addition, he has extensive experience counseling clients in product liability prevention. He is a member of the Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel, as well as the American Law Institute (ALI), where he was deeply involved in the development of the Third Restatement of Product Liability.

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Dykema recently secured a win in a product liability case for Client Key Safety Systems, Inc. A jury in West Palm Beach, Florida returned a defense verdict in favor of Ford Motor Company and Key Safety Systems, Inc., on September 11, 2014, in an automotive product liability matter entitled Sally Small, as guardian of Keanna Small vs. Ford Motors Company and Key Safety Systems, Inc., 9:12-cv-80841-KAM, USDC, MD, FL.

Plaintiff Sally Small, as guardian of her daughter Keanna Small, sued Key Safety Systems, Inc., and Ford Motor Company, alleging that Keanna Small was ejected from the front passenger seat of a 2002 Explorer during a rollover accident because of a defect in a seat belt supplied by Key Safety Systems, Inc. Plaintiff alleged that Ms. Small, who was 22 years old at the time of the accident, was properly wearing her seat belt, but that a defect in her seat belt buckle caused it to become “false latched” and to release during the crash. Ms. Small was ejected from the Explorer and sustained a traumatic brain injury.  

Plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury to return a verdict in excess of $100 million, as compensation for $2.2 million in past medical expenses, $26 million for future medical and life care, and pain and suffering related to Keanna Small’s incapacitating injury. After a three-week trial in United States District Court in West Palm Beach, the jury returned a defense verdict in favor of Ford Motor Company and Key Safety Systems, Inc.