Fred is the complete product liability and catastrophic event defense litigator and counselor. He has served as national counsel for clients and defense liaison counsel in federal multidistrict litigation, and has successfully tried significant exposure cases (including wrongful death, quadriplegia and amputation) in various jurisdictions.
With a unique depth and breadth of experience based on more than 35 years representing clients across the nation in diverse industries in litigation, Fred has acquired a multi-angle view of the litigation landscape and provides clients with thoughtful advocacy. Whether in mass torts, class actions or “one-off” cases, he crafts and executes cost-effective, successful strategies to meet client needs, including counseling to avoid potential claims and reducing liability or exposure in litigation. While bringing creative and strategic legal analysis to the specific problem or litigation, Fred understands and digs into the technical issues – especially expert opinions – that are often critical to a successful outcome.
Fred’s practice focuses primarily on handling high-exposure, high-profile cases within the following areas: coordinating and handling the response to catastrophic events causing personal injuries, environmental/property/economic damages issues including industrial explosions/fires, releases of toxic chemicals and construction accidents; life sciences in the pharmaceutical, medical device and biologic sectors, including clinical trials; interaction and litigation with various state and federal agencies including OSHA, CPSC, US Chemical Safety Board and Fire Marshalls; propane and natural gas equipment and systems; industrial, construction, material handling (forklift) and motor vehicle products; consumer products; and class action/mass torts
Presentations and Publications
- Co-Author with Bill Womble, Jr. of the North Carolina Section of the Product Liability Desk Reference, A Fifty-State Compendium, 2010-2018 Editions, Aspen Publishers
- Co-Author with Bill Womble, Jr. of the North Carolina Section of the Tort Law Desk Reference and Business Torts: A Fifty-State Guide, 2010-2018 Editions, Aspen Publishers
- Ignore Product Liability at Your Peril, published by North Carolina Citizens of Business and Industry, October 2005
- Multiple client education presentations on various subjects including: crisis management, preparation for catastrophic events and reducing liability and exposure for products
- Preparing for Catastrophic Events, North Carolina State Bar Association, June 28, 2017
- Catastrophic Events – Preparing for the Unthinkable, Association of Corporate Counsel, Webinar, March 17, 2016
- Alphabet Soup – Dealing with OSHA and Other Agencies Following Major Industrial Accidents, Moderator, Defense Research Institute, Annual Product Liability Conference, Las Vegas, February 6, 2015
- Adjusting a Train Wreck…Literally, Property and Liability Resource Bureau, Large Loss Conference, Scottsdale, Arizona, October 30, 2014
- When the Unthinkable Happens: Preparing for Industrial Catastrophes, Association of Corporate Counsel, Annual Meeting October 2011, Denver, Colorado
- Preparing for and Responding to Catastrophes - From Explosions to Fraud and Beyond, Research Triangle Area Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel, July 2011, Research Triangle Park, NC
- Preparing for Industrial Catastrophes: The First 24 Hours, North Carolina CLE, May 2011, Greensboro, NC
- Subject Injury and Indemnification Issues in Clinical Trials, MAGI's Clinical Trial Conference, May 2011, Philadelphia, PA
- Trials, Torts & Courts: Civil Litigation Arising out of Clinical Trials, MAGI's Clinical Trial Conference, October 2010, San Francisco, CA; May 2009, Miami, Florida; October 2008, Las Vegas, NV; May 2008, Arlington, VA; October 2007, San Diego, CA; May 2007, Atlantic, NJ
- Mock Trial of a Clinical Trial Case (with Allan Milstein), MAGI's Clinical Trial Conference, October 2008, Las Vegas, Nevada; May 2008, Arlington, VA
- Clinical Trial and Errors, Annual Meeting of Greater Charlotte Association of Clinical Research Professionals, October 2007, Charlotte, NC
- Keynote Address: Litigation Risks in Clinical Trials: Design Issues and Vulnerable Population Subjects, Center for Business Intelligence, 3rd Annual Seminar on Limiting Exposure to Liability in Clinical Trials, Philadelphia, Pa., December 2005
- Class Actions in North Carolina - Overview of Class Action Fairness Act of 2005, North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys, Greensboro, North Carolina, November, 2005
- Mock Trial demonstrating differing impact of U.S. domestic product standards from international product standards for an international industry material handling equipment group in Palm Springs, California, November 2005
- Coordination of Case Handling in Mass Tort Litigation, North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys, Raleigh, North Carolina, February 2003
- Senior Lecturing Fellow, Duke University Law School, 2017
- Product Liability Advisory Council
- Propane Gas Defense Association
- North Carolina Bar Association
- Wake County Bar Association
- Vice Chair, Mass Tort and Class Action, Special Litigation Group, Defense Research Institute, 2011-2013
- Chair, Product Liability Section, North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys, 2004-2006
Honors and Awards
- Recognized in The Best Lawyers in America© in the fields of Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions - Defendants, Product Liability Litigation - Defendants, 2007 - Present
- Super Lawyers Honoree, 2006, 2008 - 2010
Any result the lawyer or law firm may have achieved on behalf of clients in other matters does not necessarily indicate similar results can be obtained for other clients.
- Coordination of national propane supplier’s response to massive fire at its Florida facility, conducting detailed internal corporate investigation into incident which include: development of factual and technical defenses to anticipated issues, claims and litigation; coordinating corporate interactions with various state and federal agencies; defending litigation with OSHA over multiple citations issued; coordinating response to state and federal environmental agencies; and defending company in significant personal injury litigation.
- Representation of scaffolding company in connection with multiple deaths resulting from collapse of mastclimber equipment during disassembly at a high rise building, including: coordination of corporate investigation into incident; interaction and litigation with state OSHA over citations; and defense of company in multiple wrongful death claims.
- Defense of pharmaceutical companies in claims involving: allograft tissue, analgesics, antidepressants, antipsychotics, cholesterol-lowering drugs, class 3 ocular drugs, diet drugs and migraine drugs. Also representations including devices: defibrillators/pacemakers, analgesic pumps, latex gloves, pedicle screws and vaginal and hernia mesh.
- Defense of clinical trial sponsors for a biologic on novel claims of allegedly defective exclusionary criteria and ethical issues associated with the use of placebos in clinical trials.
- Defense of several hundred product liability claims for motor vehicle manufacturers (US, Japanese and European) on claims of crashworthiness (including 10 years on regional counsel team defending post-collision fuel-fed fire cases), unintended acceleration, steering systems, restraint systems, vehicle stability and brake systems.