Elbert Dorn focuses his practice on defending corporate clients in high exposure cases. Drawing on vast experience gained from over twenty-five (25) years of defending automotive, pharmaceutical, tobacco and other Fortune 100 companies, Elbert understands how to personalize large corporations and their legal positions before local judges and juries. Combining his rural South Carolina heritage with sophisticated insight into complex legal and scientific principles, Elbert excels at telling the client’s story in a compelling and convincing manner in the courtroom.
With a thorough understanding of legal issues in product liability, life sciences, and related fields, Elbert knows how to navigate around procedural pitfalls and focus on the substance that helps prevail. His tireless pursuit of legal arguments at the trial level has culminated in appellate opinions which have transformed product liability law in South Carolina – including the required proof of an alternative feasible design, the exclusive application of the risk-utility test in design defect cases, the enhanced element of reliability for expert opinions, the exclusion of post-manufacture evidence, and the enforcement of the substantial similarity standard for other incident evidence. He has also worked extensively with the advancement and application of pre-emption defenses.
In connection with automotive product litigation, Elbert has personally handled and tried to verdict cases for several automotive manufacturers involving alleged defects of handling and stability (rollover), sudden or unintended acceleration (electrical and/or mechanical throttle and speed control systems), seatbelts, airbags, seat backs, roof structure, door latches, glass (glazing), tires, fuel system, and crashworthiness matters. He also currently serves as statewide counsel for one of the world’s largest manufacturers of safety restraint systems in seatbelt and airbag product litigation. He is intimately familiar with the substantive and procedural issues faced by automotive and component part manufacturers in product liability litigation.
In the class action field, Elbert has defended putative and certified class actions for major corporations in South Carolina state and federal courts. He is thoroughly familiar with the complex notice and approval processes required for settlement or other resolution of class actions, as well as application of the Class Action Fairness Act.
Court Admissions — U.S. District Court, District of South Carolina
U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit