Sullivan & Cromwell’s Products Liability & Mass Torts Group has extensive experience handling high-profile, complex cases. The Group advises and represents clients on the liability risks associated with a wide variety of products and raw materials. The range of products we have addressed includes automotive vehicles, beverages, asbestos, lead paint, pharmaceuticals, welding rods, construction materials, oil and gas, manufacturing equipment, pacemakers and toxic chemicals.

S&C often acts as national coordinating counsel or senior advisor to companies facing mass liability on account of sales by them, or by their alleged predecessors or alter egos, of allegedly defective products. Our lawyers ensure the case is being handled efficiently, that information is disseminated as required and that strategy is coordinated so as to advance the client’s best interests.

The Firm has particular expertise in highly complex lawsuits involving multiple jurisdictions, disparate issues and often numerous local counsel. Our lawyers have handled a broad array of environmental and toxic tort litigations under a variety of federal and state laws, foreign national and multinational regulations, and international conventions.


Sullivan & Cromwell’s recent experience includes representations of:
  • Volkswagen AG, as lead counsel in numerous federal and state actions, including a multidistrict litigation in San Francisco, as well as regulatory investigations, regarding allegations that its diesel vehicles emitted nitrogen oxides in excess of the limits imposed by applicable U.S. law.
  • Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, in civil litigation and government investigations regarding its vehicle sales reporting methodologies and disclosures, and civil and government investigations related to emissions levels.
  • Philips Electronics North America Corp., in connection with a $1 billion consumer class-action fraud claim relating to the industry-wide use of the controversial chemical Bisphenol-A (BPA) in baby feeding products. The matter was ultimately resolved favorably through a settlement that provided a “most favored nations” clause in favor of Philips Electronics.
  • Philips Oral Healthcare, Inc., in consolidated nationwide class actions related to an alleged defect in the entire new platform of next-generation Sonicare products. Class action status was denied by the district court and summary judgment entered against plaintiffs.
  • Philips, in nationwide consumer litigation challenging defective parts in approximately $2 billion in television sales.  S&C was brought in to replace existing counsel to represent Philips and Manavox. The matter was successfully settled, with total consideration to the class and counsel of less than $1.3 million.
  • Diageo, ending four years of litigation relating to allegations that Diageo’s advertising practices “targeted” persons under the legal drinking age. After plaintiffs’ legal theories were repeatedly rejected by trial and appellate courts in a series of decisions in class actions filed across the U.S., plaintiffs agreed to terminate all remaining actions and appeals. Diageo paid nothing.
  • Building Materials Corporation of America (d/b/a GAF Corporation), in class actions filed in federal court arising out of allegedly defective roofing shingles. The matter was ultimately resolved favorably through a settlement.
  • CSR, as senior lead counsel in national asbestos litigation, developing and spearheading a defense strategy resulting in dismissals of CSR for lack of personal jurisdiction from tens of thousands of actions resulting in important precedential decisions.
  • Chadbourne & Parke, in obtaining dismissals of tobacco litigation against it in several jurisdictions.
  • Thomas Weisel, founder and one-time part-owner of the U.S. Postal Service Cycling Team, in aclass action in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California brought on behalf of a putative class of purchasers of Lance Armstrong’s books. S&C obtained dismissal of the complaint.
  • Solvay S.A., in connection with a multi-district litigation concerning hormone replacement therapy (“HRT”) products that plaintiffs alleged caused cancer and other ailments. The matter was ultimately resolved favorably through a settlement.