Stephen is a member of Frost Brown Todd LLC and is a member of the Firm's class action, mass tort and products liability groups. He frequently defends participants in class actions and mass disaster litigation. Stephen is a national litigator and advisor who is experienced in developing solutions to complex litigation and corporate problems. He is the former chair of Frost Brown Todd’s mass tort practice group.
While the practice of the group, and of Stephen in particular has dealt with a broad range of problems; from its inception, the mission of the group was to find simple, successful and elegant solutions to the problems posed by complex and substantial litigation, primarily in the mass tort arena. As a philosophical matter, the group approaches litigation problems by early identification and development of comprehensive visions and strategies that, while frequently outside the bounds of common litigation handling and management techniques, have consistently yielded successful results.
Some of Stephen's own significant experiences are:
Lead role in preparing amicus brief before the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the National Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturer's, the Center for Class Action Fairness, the National Association of Homebuilders the American Architectural Manufacturer's Association, and Window and Door Manufacturer's Association. The brief urged certiorari of the decision of the Seventh Circuit in a products liability class action.
National Coordinating Counsel to a large international insurer and thousands of its insureds in claims involving a commonly used building cladding product. In this regard, he assumed the role of National Coordinating Counsel several years in advance of actual litigation. He undertook responsibility for developing the overall defense plan and strategy and the technical aspects of the case, including the selection and retention of experts in various fields. Because the overall exposure exceeded $1 billion but each individual case represented relatively modest damages, Stephen developed a process whereby the cases could be directed to mediation early in the life of the matter before many of the costs were incurred. The plan required an upfront investment of time and effort to create the general defenses, a litigation plan, and the format for evaluating each individual exposure. He also formulated an alternative billing arrangement that share the risks of the transactional costs between the lawyers and the carrier that allowed an aggressive litigation approach at a practical cost.
Representing a nationwide group of fast food franchisees seeking to recover commercial damages due to the inappropriate sale and distribution of a genetically engineered product. Stephen developed a strategy by which three favorable plaintiffs’ jurisdictions were selected and then disparate actions involving the claims of various members of the plaintiff group were brought in each location. By matching the strengths of the various plaintiffs to the jurisdiction in which the law, the judicial philosophy and demographics were most favorable, the clients ultimately were able to settle the litigation for an amount in excess of the actual damages (tens of millions) suffered.
Serving as a lead defense counsel in the One Meridian Plaza Litigation in Philadelphia which involved damages in excess of $400 million for construction related claims, and co-chaired the product and services defendants steering committee. Although he was hired late in the litigation, Stephen engineered the development of a defense group composed of various service providers. This group was able to successfully resist and present an overall defense to the substantial claims presented by the building owner and focus their energies on a common theme. At Stephen's urging, this group also ultimately retained the services of a group facilitator to negotiate intra-defendant disputes and assist in help adjudicating and resolving the claims.
Representing a number of parties in a series of multi-million dollar commercial construction claims concerning alleged defects in prefabricated metal buildings and residential foundations. In this instance, Stephen grouped various cases together for discovery purposes to reduce transactional costs and developed a legal strategy designed to obtain favorable legal rulings on various contractual clauses upon which the designers of the buildings relied. Once this was achieved, the matters were favorably resolved.
Stephen played a lead role in the defense of several product and service providers in the San Juan Dupont Plaza Litigation, which arose out of a fire which caused the deaths of 97 people and injured hundreds more. The National Litigation Group pioneered a strategy of an initial on site investigation of the fire on behalf of unnamed product defendants who anticipated lawsuits and the formulation of a joint defense group between and among that group. These efforts culminated in the ability to effectively and successfully try the case without the incurrence of back breaking transactional costs that historically provided settlement leverage to the plaintiffs’ lawyers in single incident mass torts. The litigation arising out of the fire constituted the largest mass disaster lawsuit in history and included 1,470 plaintiffs seeking $1.8 billion in damages from 226 defendants. The case was tried to a defense verdict after 13 months.
Stephen has played a lead role in a number of other matters in which his creative and innovative approaches led to solutions that worked as opposed to those that just generated more conflict and cost. From the formulation of group defense strategies that brought together disparate group of entities to pursue a common theme, to alternative billing, to trial where necessary and at the right place and right time, to formulation of mediation strategies and procedures, and to every place in between, Stephen and his group has formulated and implemented unique and successful strategies for dealing with complex “mass torts.” Stephen and his group remain devoted to its original mission: finding litigation solutions that make sense and solve problems.