As a toxicologist who has served as a consulting and testifying expert in scores of toxic tort and environmental contamination cases, I have worked with more than 100 attorneys.  Scott Smith is among the very best of them.  He is technically astute – able to grasp sophisticated scientific, medical, and environmental concepts and details, even as he successfully simplifies and explains these to judges and juries alike.  He is outstanding in his abilities to both prepare his own technical experts, and to depose and cross-examine opposing sides’ experts.  Scott’s depth and breadth of knowledge in science and medicine are remarkable.  And, he is a genuinely wonderful person.  

 

Laura C. Green, Ph.D., D.A.B.T.

​President & Senior Toxicologist​

Green Toxicology LLC

Brookline, MA

 

Scott and I worked together representing a former lead pigment manufacturer in a series of cases including public nuisance claims brought by state and local governments, as well as numerous bodily injury claims. The potential exposure in the aggregate was potentially in excess of $100 billion – true “bet the company” litigation. Scott took on the role of developing, coordinating and presenting the scientific evidence and expert witnesses to the juries. I have been involved in numerous exposure cases, environmental cases and similar matters where the scientific and technical evidence is nothing short of mind-numbing to juries and lawyers alike and was presented by, in effect, dumping the evidence in the jury’s lap. Scott takes exactly the opposite approach and puts the information in a simple, understandable format that helps the jury understand the evidence. Most attorneys believe they can or should be able to handle the scientific evidence without assistance; however, in reality, that is best left to attorneys who enjoy the scientific evidence and understand how juries receive and process that information. Scott is one of those few attorneys who does this efficiently and successfully.

Mark L. Carlton

General Counsel

Valerus

Houston, TX

I have worked with Scott for 30 years and have spent more time in trial with Scott than I care to remember.  Although I would never admit it to Scott, he is one of the finest lawyers in the country.   He has a scientist and engineer's eye for understanding the complexities of a difficult case and the lawyer's ability to synthesize those complexities in a manner that the court and jury can understand and appreciate.  He has an outstanding ability to untangle difficult scientific and engineering issues and then turn those issues into clear and persuasive motions and appellate briefs.  This same ability enables Scott to work closely with expert witnesses to develop forceful and compelling expert testimony.   In short – setting aside something of a warped sense of humor – Scott is simply the best. 

 Michael T. Nilan

Founding Shareholder

Nilan Johnson Lewis PA

Minneapolis, MN

As a jury consultant, I have worked with a wide range of lawyers with varying skill levels.  When evaluating the persuasiveness of a good litigator, strong storytelling communication skills, understanding your audience (be it judge or jury) and being relatable are three of the main factors I look for.  Fortunately for Scott, I have witnessed him accomplishing all three of these key qualities.  He has a keen ability to take complex scientific concepts and translate them into a persuasive jury-friendly story both verbally via his storytelling and visually via his graphics development.  Scott is a great science storyteller and will be an asset to your team to consult on your complex cases. 

Merrie Jo Pitera, Ph.D.

CEO

Litigation Insights 

Overland Park, KS

 

Here are a few details about my education, background, experience, and other important stuff.

Education:

 

  • University of Michigan Law School, J.D., cum laude, 1979

 

  • Cornell University, B.S. with distinction in Chemical Engineering, 1976

 

  • Cornell National Scholar; John McMullen Engerineering Scholar; Member, Tau Beta Pi national engineering honorary society

 

 

Honors and Certifications:

  • Selected as a Minnesota "Super Lawyer" annually since 2012

 

  • Listed in the International Who's Who of Product Liability Defense Lawyers

 
Bar Admissions:

 

  • Minnesota Supreme Court

 

  • Indiana Supreme Court

 

  • United States District Courts for the District of Minnesota, Central District of Illinois, Southern District of Indiana and Eastern District of Wisconsin

 

  • United States Courts of Appeals for the Third, Seventh, Eighth and Tenth Circuits

 

  • United States Supreme Court

Experience: 

 

From 1979-1986, I was a litigation associate at a large Indianapolis law firm, where I cut my teeth as a defense trial lawyer on everything from slip-and-fall and dog bite cases to multi-week jury trials involving electrical engineering malpractice, wastewater treatment and collection systems, and many others. I also litigated a variety of environmental disputes involving air, water and solid and hazardous waste emissions and disposal. From 1986 through 2016, I was a litigation partner and shareholder at three prominent Minneapolis law firms serving as national, regional and local trial counsel in the defense of personal injury, wrongful death, property damage and commercial cases involving pharmaceuticals, medical devices, vaccines, over-the-counter medications, consumer/workplace/environmental exposure to a variety of toxic and hazardous products and substances, and production/manufacturing processes and equipment.

 

 

Representative Matters: 

 

Lead Paint/Pigment Litigation. I served on national and trial counsel teams defending personal injury, abatement and public nuisance cases brought throughout the United States against one of the former manufacturers of lead pigments and lead paint. Among other things, I was trial counsel in all matters that went to trial; prepared, cross-examined and defended most expert witnesses in trial and deposition; developed litigation strategy with the client and co-defendants; and, served as one of the media spokespersons for the defense group.

 

Drug/Device/Vaccine Litigation. I have represented numerous manufacturers of pharmaceuticals, medical devices, vaccines and veterinary biologics in personal property and property damage cases across the United States. Of particular note, I successfully established a federal preemption defense shielding most manufacturers of veterinary biologics from state tort liability, and I served as co-lead trial counsel in MDL bellwether trials arising out of the use of a prescription drug indicated for the treatment of symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

 

Environmental/Toxic Tort Litigation. I have defended clients in numerous personal injury, property damage and medical monitoring lawsuits arising out of exposure to air, water, surface and subsurface pollutants or hazardous materials, including chlorinated solvents, PCBs, heavy metals, asbestos, pesticides and fungicides, biological wastes, sewage treatment emissions, hazardous consumer and workplace products, and numerous others. In several of these matters, I successfully defended against certification of plaintiff classes.

 

Process/Trade Secret Litigation. I have defended a variety of manufacturers against claims of trade secret misuse arising out of complex processes, engineered systems or devices. Among other matters, I prevailed on a four-week jury trial in federal court based upon the alleged misappropriation of a supervisory system accompanying an industrial dry goods packaging line.

 

Community Involvement:

 

I’m proud of my involvement in and service to the local community. I served for many years as a Warden and Senior Warden of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Minneapolis and was a lay member of the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota. I’m a past President and board member of the Edina Chorale, in which I’ve sung for many years. I was also the Scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 48, Edina, Minnesota, a seventh- and eighth-grade football coach for the Edina Football Association, and a registered track and field official for the Minnesota State High School League.  Finally, I serve as pro bono counsel representing immigration detainees in bond/custody, removal and status/visa proceedings before the U.S. Immigration Court and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service.

So why in the world would someone with 37 years’ experience as a big-firm trial lawyer, litigating complex cases across the country, start up a solo practice aimed at providing other lawyers sophisticated, high-quality litigation assistance on a project basis?  Here are a few reasons why:

 

First, I’m a science junkie.  Since my undergrad days in chemical engineering, I’ve loved learning complex issues of science, medicine and technology – everything from complicated neuropharmacology, cardiology, orthopedics and other health sciences to contaminant hydrogeology and air modeling, automated control and supervisory systems, carcinogen risk assessment, high-voltage electrical protection systems, and many others.  I adore finding and working with leading experts in their fields.  And I’m especially keen on translating complicated science into verbal and visual constructs that help laypersons (not to mention other lawyers) “get it.”

 
WHY A FREELANCER?

For lawyers and their clients, the benefits of hiring specialized litigation support on a freelance basis can be substantial.

 

Superior value for clients. Many experienced legal freelancers offer partner-level quality work at associate-level rates, and with far more productivity than a less experienced (but billable hour-pressured) associate. Fewer hours needed to complete the task, at a reduced billing rate, is a win-win for most clients. And project-based legal service freelancers often have the flexibility to offer fee certainty that clients needing more predictability in their legal costs increasingly seek.

Increase your firm’s range of services – and clients. Smaller and even mid-size firms frequently lack the depth of experience and expertise in particular areas of practice that legal freelancers offer. For those firms, engaging the services of an experienced hand can help them take on matters and clients which would otherwise be beyond their capabilities. And even if the firm has existing talent in a particular area, retaining an experienced freelancer with similar skills can free up valuable marketing and practice development time for its lawyers.

 

Improve the firm’s bottom line. Retaining qualified legal freelancers on a project basis assures that law firms will have access to experience and expertise when they need it – without paying salary, benefits and taxes for that talent when they don’t. Nor do firms need to invest in years of associate development and training in a specialized area of law. Finally, so long as the fees billed by the firm for a legal freelancer’s services are reasonable, the firm has the flexibility to set its own rate for his or her services, thus enhancing the firm’s leverage should it so choose.

 

Timely access to additional legal support. Whether because of attorney vacations, illness, retirement, family leave or new business, law firms frequently require experienced legal support on short notice to accommodate professional staffing needs. Experienced legal freelancers can help law firms meet those demands and deliver seamless service without adding to the firm’s permanent payroll.

 

Click here for more resources describing how experienced legal freelancers can benefit both law firms and their clients, and some of the professional and ethical issues involved.

 

 
 
 

TESTIMONIALS

As an in-house lawyer, I have worked with Scott on a number of diverse matters.  Scott is one of those [rare??]  lawyers who “gets it” when it comes to representing a company.  He understands that winning a case can take many forms  . . . not just in the courtroom.  He understands that strategy and tactics in working up a case can make you win the case without even stepping into the courtroom. Scott takes the time to understand the culture and psyche of the company and its management and tailors his strategy to achieve the desired outcome.  He is a passionate advocate for the company he represents and as an in-house lawyer, I value that passion.

 

Steve Friedman

Vice-President and Senior Attorney,

CommScope, Inc. 

Shakopee, MN

 

© 2020 BY SMITH LEGAL PLLC.