Fred is a 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, brain trauma and amputation) in various jurisdictions.

With a unique depth and breadth of experience based on 40 years representing clients in diverse industries across the nation 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 – which 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 including industrial explosions/fires, releases of toxic chemicals and construction accidents; life sciences in the pharmaceutical, medical device and biologic sectors; interaction and litigation with various state and federal agencies including OSHA and CPSC; propane and natural gas equipment and systems; industrial, construction, material handling (forklift) and motor vehicle products; consumer products; and class action/mass torts.

Thought Leadership

  • 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
  • Multiple client education presentations on various subjects including crisis management, preparation for catastrophic events and reducing liability and exposure for products (numerous presentations 2005 – 2022)
  • Reputation is Everything: Managing the Message, Womble Bond Dickinson, “Doing Good” webinar series, June 29, 2021
  • Building a Crisis Communication Strategy, American Home Furniture Association, webinar, April 28, 2021
  • COVID-19 in the Workplace, Society of Chemical manufacturers and Affiliates, webinar, April 3, 2020
  • 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 City, NJ

Professional & Civic Engagement

  • Instructor, Pretrial Litigation Course, Duke University Law School, 2017 and 2020
  • Guest Speaker, “Litigation in the Real World”, North Carolina Central University Law School, 2021-2023 
  • 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, Mass Tort and Class Action Special Litigation Group, Defense Research Institute, 2013-2015
  • Chair, Product Liability Section, North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys, 2004-2006
  • Member Board of Directors, St. Thomas More Society, Diocese of Raleigh 2022- present

Honors and Awards

  • Recognized in The Best Lawyers in America (BL Rankings) in the fields of Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions – Defendants; and Product Liability Litigation – Defendants, 2007 – Present 
  • Recognized in The Best Lawyers in America as “Lawyer of the Year” in North Carolina in the fields of Mass Tort Litigation/ Class Actions – Defendants; Product Liability Litigation – Defendants, 2020 
  • Super Lawyers Honoree in the fields of Class Action/Mass Torts, Personal Injury – Products, Civil Litigation, North Carolina Super Lawyers magazine (Thomson Reuters), 2006, 2008 – 2010
  • Recognized by Chambers USA, for as a leading lawyer in North Carolina in the field of General Commercial Litigation, 2012- 2014

Representative Experience

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: conduct detailed internal corporate investigation into incident; develop factual and technical defenses to anticipated issues, claims and litigation; coordinate corporate interactions with various state and federal agencies; defend litigation with OSHA and EPA over multiple citations issued; and defend company in multiple personal injury lawsuits.
  • Representation of scaffolding company in connection with multiple deaths resulting from collapse of mastclimber equipment 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 owner and developer in numerous lawsuits arising out of a fire gutting a large apartment complex during construction, which damaged multiple surrounding buildings including luxury condominiums and government/office buildings, where claims for personal injury, property damage and economic losses were brought, exceeding 9 figures.
  • 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 medical devices: defibrillators/pacemakers, analgesic pumps, latex gloves, pedicle screws, and vaginal and hernia mesh. 
  • Defense of several hundred individual product liability lawsuits 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.
  • Defense of private school, its athletic director and coach in connection with claims by a student-athlete and parents arising out of a collision during a lacrosse game rendering the player quadriplegic.
  • Defense of owner and operator of a hazardous waste facility in connection with multiple lawsuits including class actions and individual personal injury and property damage actions arising from an explosion and fire destroying the facility and resulting in evacuation of 10,000 persons in the surrounding community.
  • Defense of manufacturer of a natural gas flow control unit in connection with catastrophic explosion and fire destroying a large scale manufacturing facility which caused multiple deaths and dozens of personal injuries.