Foodborne Illness Litigation Conference

(subject to change)


Wednesday, May 4

5:30 – 7:00 pm                      
Welcome Reception  


Thursday, May 5

7:00 – 8:15 am           
Breakfast Buffet
Sponsored by Ungaretti & Harris


 8:30 – 8:45 am
Welcome and Opening Remarks

  • Steven Leslie, Senior Manager, Claims Program, Grocery Manufacturers Association

8:45 – 9:30am
A Bit(e) of History: The Food Safety Modernization Act

  • Bill Marler, Esq., Marler Clark LLP

9:30 – 10:15 am
The ABC’s of Crisis Management

  • John Buckley, Esq., Ungaretti & Harris (moderator)
  • Patrick McGrath, Navigant Consultant, Inc.
  • Jo Osborn, Esq., Tree House Foods
  • Jamie Robinson, Esq., Ungaretti & Harris

In this presentation, outside and in-house counsel will discuss the various decision points in handling a litigation or public relation crisis, including communications, social media aspects, handling government agencies and damage control.

10:15 – 10:30 am
Networking Refreshment Break


10:30 - 11:15 am
The Wizard of Oz and the “Expert” Behind the Curtain: Deconstructing Junk Science and Winning your Case

  • Jerry Blackwell, Esq., Blackwell Burke P.A.
  • Corey Gordon, Esq., Blackwell Burke P.A.

Plaintiffs rely on expert testimony in nearly every foodborne illness lawsuit.  This presentation offers a practical discussion and presentation of successful approaches to Daubert motions and jury trials, including discovery and research, finding and working with real experts, graphics and demonstrations, persuasive arguments, effective cross examination, and how to “bring home” a defense verdict.

11:15 – 12:00 am
Experts: Implications of Amendments to FRCP 26

  • Felicity McGrath, Esq., Gilbert LLP

Learn the possible pitfalls, pratfalls, and benefits to using experts to defend foodborne illness cases, as well as what types of experts to use.  This session will address thinking outside the box in your approach to using experts, what factors to consider when choosing an expert, preparing experts for trial, and working with professional experts, novices, academics and industry insiders.

Noon – 1:00 pm


1:00 – 1:45 pm
The Food Safety Modernization Act: What In-House and Outside Counsel Need to Know

  • Shannon Cole, Director of Science Operations, Grocery Manufacturers Association

1:45 – 2:45 pm
The Toyota Experience: Evolution of Mass Torts and What It Means for the Food Industry

  • Richard G. Morgan, Esq.; Bowman and Brooke LLP
  • Joel H. Smith, Esq.; Bowman and Brooke LLP

The nature of mass tort litigation is evolving in the wake of recent recalls, Congressional hearings, the dominance of 24-hour media coverage, increased regulatory activity, and increased criminal charges against companies and their executives.  The result has been the development of a well-financed "mass tort" plaintiffs' bar, detailed procedures utilized by courts to manage these situations, and defense strategies designed to defend on many fronts and contain the significant costs of this feeding frenzy.  In this session, one of the lead outside counsel for Toyota borrows from his experience in a ringside seat for the multi-faceted litigation against the automaker, while an experienced food safety attorney explains how this phenomena has and will become the new reality for the food industry as well.

2:45 – 3:00 pm
Networking Refreshment Break


3:00 – 3:45 pm
The 2010 Egg Recall:  A Case Study

  • Sarah Brew, Esq., Faegre & Benson LLP

In 2010 one of the largest Salmonella outbreaks in U.S. history led to the recall of more than half a billion eggs, and, like other recent foodborne illness outbreaks, caused a decrease in consumer confidence in the food supply and spawned Congressional hearings.  This presentation will explore the outbreak and resulting personal injury and class action consumer fraud litigation, discuss the regulatory response, and analyze the implications for the food industry.

3:45 – 4:30 pm
Restaurant Risk Management: Insurance and Indemnification

  • Bob Dorsett, Esq., Dorsett Swift & Clinton, LLP
  • Brian Swift, Esq., Dorsett Swift & Clinton, LLP

Attorneys and Risk Managers from California and Texas will discuss the various issues that arise when food goes bad resulting in consumer claims.  When should claims be tendered, accepted, rejected, or settled?  What remedies and obligations do manufacturers and restaurants face?  This presentation will be given in an “exercise” format allowing all attendees to participate.

4:30 pm