Litigation Conference (formerly Food Claims & Litigation Conference)

2013 GMA Litigation Conference

Program of Events

Tuesday, February 19

5:30-7:00 pm              Welcome Reception
                                    Sponsored by Michael Best & Friedrich, LLP

9:00 pm – 11:30 pm    After Hours Reception at beach side Bella Beach for networking and light snacks

Co-sponsored by        Roetzel & Andress

Wicker Smith O'Hara McCoy & Ford P.A.


Wednesday, February 20

7:00-8:00 am              Breakfast Buffet
                                    Sponsored by Bonner Kiernan Trebach & Crociata, LLP


7:00 am – 5:00 pm      Hospitality / Business Center in the 4th floor Atlantic Room

Co-sponsored by        Roetzel & Andress

Wicker Smith O'Hara McCoy & Ford P.A.

General Sessions: 8:00-9:50 am

8:00 – 8:05 am:  Opening Remarks

Steven Leslie, Esq
Director and Counsel
GMA Claims Program

8:05-9:00 am:  Recent Developments in Food, Beverage, and CPG Industry Product Liability Litigation

Paul Benson, Esq.
Michael Best & Friedrich, LLP

Michael Best & Friedrich’s Paul Benson will set the stage for the conference by discussing the trends observed in product liability litigation and related legislation affecting the food, beverage, and CPG industry over the past year, and also providing a preview of issues that are likely to have an impact in the near future.

9:00-9:50 am:  How to Avoid Being Labeled a Defendant – Litigation Proofing Your Labels

Sarah Brew, Esq.
Faegre Baker Daniels, LLP

Litigation challenging food labels continues at an unprecedented pace, with no part of a product’s label avoiding scrutiny by entrepreneurial plaintiffs’ lawyers.  This presentation analyzes recent labeling litigation trends and discusses best practices to minimize the risk of exposure to consumer fraud litigation, including complying with basic labeling nuts and bolts,  properly reviewing health and nutrient content claims, and anticipating the next types of claims—beyond “natural”—that plaintiffs’ lawyers may target.


9:50-10:10 am           Networking Break
                                  Sponsored by Dickie, McCamey & Chilcote, PC

General Sessions: 10:10-11:50 am

10:10-11:00 am:  Evolving Regulations for Food Manufacturers – Managing Risk in a Changing Culture

Jonathan Cohen, Esq., Gilbert, LLP (Moderator)
Bernie Steves, Aon Risk Management
Shannon Cole, MS, PMP, Senior Director, Science Program Management, GMA

This session will discuss  how changes in food manufacturing regulations may  affect the way that companies think about spreading changing financial risks..  Topics include:  addressing recall risks in light of the FSMA FDA mandatory recall power, paying for more frequent inspections under FSMA and state statutes, paying for labeling claims under the changing federal and state requirements, protecting against supply chain risk, and managing risks from emerging technologies and their regulation. 

11:00-11:50 am:  Outbreak Nation 2012: The Year in Review

Christopher Lee, Esq., Dickie McCamey & Chilcote, PC
David Herman, Esq., Nestle USA

This session will survey the current landscape of foodborne illness litigation, including but not limited to outbreaks occurring over the past year.

Noon-1:00 pm             Luncheon
                                    Sponsorship Opportunity Available

Concurrent Breakout Sessions: 1:10-2:00pm

1:10-2:00 pm: Breakout Session A: Prop 65 – Can You Do Anything Before You Get Sued?

Trent Norris, Esq., Arnold & Porter, LLP

This nuts and bolts session will review ways for companies to address compliance with Prop 65 despite the lack of clear standards in the law. Topics will include the importance of identifying the listed chemical, reviewing product formulations, obtaining test data, and dealing with variability in results. We will also discuss methods of determining the warning trigger level in the absence of an appropriate regulatory safe harbor level. Finally, we will work through an example to determine the “average” consumer and daily exposure rates.

1:10-2:00 pm: Breakout Session B: Hot Topics in Consumer Product Safety:  Regulation, Enforcement and Recall Crises

Marialusa Gallozi, Esq., Sarah Wilson, Esq., Covington & Burling, LLP

Armed with enhanced statutory powers and financial resources, the Consumer Product Safety Commission is pursuing a vigorous regulatory and enforcement agenda.  In 2013, the CPSC will continue to expand its reach in the areas of product safety recalls, regulation of safety hazards, enforcement action and litigation.  This presentation will address critical developments affecting consumer product manufacturers, importers, and retailers.  The speakers will discuss how to work with regulators, consumers, and other stakeholders in a product recall crisis, including tips for managing governmental investigations and consumer social media campaigns and litigation.

Concurrent Breakout Sessions: 2:00-2:50 pm

2:00-2:50 pm: Recipes for Food Litigation in Canada – Contaminated Cold Cuts,   Tainted Dog Food, and a Fly in a Water Bottle

Peter J. Pliszka, Esq., Fasken Martineau

The litigation and regulatory landscape between the U.S. and Canada has become a war zone in the past 15 years. The plaintiffs' bar is organized; Canadian plaintiffs' counsel are working jointly with US plaintiffs' counsel to launch cross-border assaults on manufacturers. Often with the cooperative help of US plaintiffs' counsel, Canadian plaintiffs' counsel have jumped on the relatively recent class actions bandwagon in Canada and steered it directly toward manufacturers of ingested products, such as food. Come to this session to learn about the recent Canadian court decisions involving food manufacturers and to discuss ideas for defense counsel in Canada and the US to help defend their mutual clients in these cross-border battles.

2:00-2:50 pmIs Diactyl the New Asbestos?  Flavoring Litigation in the Post-Watson World

Corey Gordon, Esq., Blackwell Burke, PA

Diactyl, which is used in various food products to give it a buttery flavor, has been the source of consumer litigation in recent years.  This session take a closer look at Diactyl litigation, including the recent Watson decision and what it could mean going forward.

2:50-3:10 pm              Networking Break
                                    Sponsored by Faegre Baker Daniels, LLP


General Sessions: 3:10-5:30 pm

3:10-4:00 pm: FSMA and the New Risk Environment:  Strategies for Effective Response

Bob Hibbert, Esq.
Chris Collings, Esq., Morgan, Lewis & Bockius
Shannon Cole, MS, PMP, Senior Director, Science Program Management, GMA

On January 4, 2013, the FDA released two major proposed regulations for the implementation of FSMA.  While it will be months before these rules are finalized, and even longer until they are implemented, it is clear that the overall risk environment has already been altered for industry manufacturers.  This session will look at how FSMA has already redefined expectations and behavior, both in terms of FDA and private trade activities, and how companies can best to handle these pending changes in the future.

4:00-5:30 pm: Ethical Considerations Confronting In-House and Outside Counsel during a Product Recall Crisis

Stephen A. Weisbrod, Esq., Weisbrod, Matteis & Copley, PLLC (Moderator)
Kelley Maggs, Esq., Pinnacle Foods
Rick Morgan, Esq., Bowman & Brooke, LLP

Shirley R. Boyd, Esq. (Panelist), Cargill, Inc.
Chet Kronenberg, Esq. (Panelist)
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, LLP

In this session, in-house and outside counsel in the food, beverage, and CPG industry will tackle a hypothetical product recall crisis, focusing on ethical considerations during every step of the process.

6:30-7:30 pm             Reception
                                   Sponsored by Shook, Hardy & Bacon, LLP

7:30-9:00 pm             Litigation Conference Annual Gala Dinner
                                  Sponsored by Arnold & Porter, LLP

Renew old acquaintances and make new ones as we come together to network and unwind after a day of insightful discussions and learning.

9:00 pm – 11:30 pm    After Hours Reception at beach side Bella Beach for networking, light snacks and cigar roller

Co-sponsored by        Roetzel & Andress

Wicker Smith O'Hara McCoy & Ford P.A.

Thursday, February 21

7:00-8:00 am     Breakfast Buffet
Sponsorship Opportunity Available


7:00 am – 1:00 pm      Hospitality / Business Center in the 4th floor Atlantic Room

Co-sponsored by        Roetzel & Andress

                                                           Wicker Smith O'Hara McCoy & Ford P.A.


General Session: 8:00-10:10 am

8:00-9:20 am: Class Action Litigation Update

Angel Garganta, Esq., Arnold & Porter, LLP
Nancy Dowling, Esq., The Dannon Company
Ron Rothstein, Esq., Winston & Strawn, LLP

This session will address the current state of class action litigation in the food, beverage, and CPG product industry.

9:20-10:10 am: Effective Coordination and Management of Foreign Local Counsel in International Litigation

John Boudet, Esq., Roetzel & Andress
Jon Secrest, Esq., Roetzel & Andress

Products liability and other litigation are increasingly being pursued outside of the U.S.  This multi-national litigation demands that companies address a variety of regulatory, legal and PR issues in multiple jurisdictions.  Having loyal and well-informed local counsel in those foreign jurisdictions can be critical to achieving a favorable outcome. This session will discuss how to identify, select, communicate with and manage foreign counsel to defend your client on multiple fronts.


10:10-10:30 am         Networking Break
                                  Sponsored by Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, LLP


General Session: 10:30 am-12:15pm

10:30-11:20 am:  Food is NOT the Next Tobacco

Madeleine McDonough, Esq., Shook, Hardy & Bacon

Plaintiffs’ counsel would have consumers believe that food companies, like cigarette manufacturers and asbestos makers before them, are the cause of many ills and, with deep pockets available to pay massive damages, are ripe for mass tort lawsuits and multi-million dollar settlements.  This presentation will explain why the food and beverage industries are not like other litigation targets and discuss strategies for exiting putative class actions expeditiously, with reputation, brand, and product integrity intact.

11:20-12:10:  Valuating Food Claim Settlements

Ron Levine, Esq., Herrick Feinstein, LLP
Mark P. Rapazzini, Esq., Heffler Claims Administration

Well-informed companies engage in early case assessment where settlement is considered or a likely outcome. Indeed, a very high percentage of the food and beverage consumer fraud claims are settling. This program will provide essential information which will be of assistance in valuing these cases. What is the “going rate” for settlements? What are the “packages” counsel have been putting together to reach settlement agreements with plaintiffs’ attorneys? An understanding of industry trends and practices are critical when advising is client on appropriate terms for any settlement.

12:10 – 12:15 pm:  Closing Remarks

Steven Leslie, Esq., Director and Counsel, GMA Claims Program