Client and Industry Challenges
As the world’s automotive industry shifts its focus to vehicle electrification, autonomous driving, alternative mobility options, emissions reduction and global distribution, new challenges emerge with respect to regulatory compliance, supply chain management and product safety. In the automotive industry today, the road is paved with complex legal developments, regulatory changes, technological advances and shifting consumer attitudes. Clients must navigate industry-specific issues related to employment, intellectual property, international business, construction, manufacturing, compliance, and cybersecurity. Those in the automotive industry must be able to quickly adapt to developments in technology and changes in the law.
Why Clients Select Us
Clients select us because of our depth of knowledge and experience within the automotive industry. We have products attorneys with decades of experience representing automotive clients in both state and federal courts, and before regulatory agencies. They have prepared and tried hundreds of product liability cases across the country. Our intellectual property team works on trademarks and design patents, and our energy storage team has unique battery and regulatory experience. Additionally, our real estate practice capabilities include large land acquisition and leasing work, and our corporate team has handled automotive mergers and acquisitions as well as a myriad of other corporate issues.
Product Liability Litigation and Trials
- Since 2007, Snell & Wilmer’s product liability group has tried approximately 117 product liability lawsuits across the country, from coast to coast and, across more than 25 states and U.S. territories.
- Snell & Wilmer lawyers act as first-chair national trial counsel and national coordinating counsel for a number of clients, including automotive clients, for product liability litigation across the country.
- We represent and defend clients in a variety of areas, including automotive products; recreational boating; general aviation; consumer products; industrial products; medical device and pharmaceuticals; data protection and cyber security.
- The automotive product liability cases we defend cover a wide array of defect and negligence theories including design, manufacturing, and warnings/instructions. Some examples include:
- Collisions involving other vehicles and pedestrians, where the lack of radar and cameras for forward collision warning and pedestrian detection, and the lack of automatic emergency braking are alleged to be a defect;
- Collisions involving vehicle occupant injuries in which the performance of the airbag systems (sensors, control modules/software and airbag cushions), seat belt systems (webbing, retractors, pretensioners) and general vehicle crashworthiness are at issue;
- Cases involving claims of carbon monoxide exposure by vehicle occupants due to alleged exhaust system defects or body structure/sealant defects;
- Rollover accidents in which the handling and stability of the vehicle, its roof strength, glass performance and restraint systems are challenged;
- Post-collision fuel-fed fire cases in which the design and integrity of the fuel system are alleged to be defective;
- Rear-end collisions in which the performance of the front seats in absorbing crash energy and mitigating injury are disputed;
- Class actions and mass actions involving alleged defects in vehicle entertainment software, and in vehicle drivetrain design and performance;
- Trucking accidents allegedly due to negligent operation by the driver, where we defended the U.S.- based motor carrier and its insurer;
- Failure to provide adequate warnings and instructions in the safe operation of a product;
- Motorcycle and off-road utility vehicle accidents allegedly due to vehicle defects; and
- Warranty claims in which customers seek treble damages and more for alleged lemon law violations.
- These product liability trials typically involved catastrophic injury, fatality, or significant property damage claims. These jury trials usually last several weeks and involve a wide variety of distinguished experts in accident reconstruction, design and mechanical engineering, software, biomechanics and biomedical, human factors, statistics and risk assessment, and medical and damages issues.
- Beyond defending cases, Snell & Wilmer lawyers also assist clients with potential and actual product safety recall events, including those involving the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
- Our lawyers advise clients about product safety process steps to take in design and development that can be used to robustly defend against subsequent product liability lawsuits.
Commercial Finance and Bankruptcy
- Represented California lender in state and bankruptcy court involving defaulted obligation by a multi-location automotive repair company.
- Represented national lender in financing the acquisition of a multi-state automotive services chain.
- Represented automotive manufacturers in motor vehicle franchise disputes addressing issues regarding statutory notice and buyback provisions, dealer sales and transfers of ownership, dealer succession and dealer terminations.
- Assisted a regional automotive company with vehicle purchase agreements, vehicle leasing programs, product supply agreements, trademark registration, software license agreements, lease review, commercial litigation matters (recent lease dispute), R&D and tech transfer agreements, miscellaneous contract review.
- Assisted a regional automotive with a corporate reorganization.
- Experience in serving as the lead attorneys for drafting and obtaining cutting edge patents for hybrid automobile technology for a top automotive company. We continue to manage their patent portfolio of over 200 patents and have drafted and helped in obtaining key patents that are infringed and licensed by a competing automotive company.
- Represented consumer products company in patent infringement actions involving car chargers, phone and tablet cases, screen protectors and display packaging.
- Represented Fortune 100 global transportation company for patent prosecution matters.
- Prepared and prosecuted a global IP portfolio of more than 20 issued patents and 40 pending patent applications directed to industry-leading transverse flux electric motors.
- Represented numerous clients in connection with battery, electric vehicle, and green power technologies.
- Trademarks (company, product lines and vehicle names)
- Design patents (vehicle bodies, headlights, etc.)
- Patents for all aspects of electric vehicles (electrical systems, batteries, mechanical components, etc.)
- Acted as lead counsel in representing one of the largest nationwide automotive groups in acquiring and developing dealership properties and portfolio in eight states.
- Experienced in representation of lenders with respect to automotive, trucking and transportation debts and real estate and non-real estate collateral packages, including commercial and residential properties, industrial and office properties.