Photograph of Clifford J. Zatz

Clifford J. Zatz

Partner


Clifford J. Zatz is a trial lawyer in the firm's Mass Tort, Product, and Consumer Litigation Group. Cliff has litigated product liability, toxic tort, defamation, environmental, wrongful death, breach of contract, and intellectual property cases. He has appeared in the state and federal courts of more than twenty states. He has been recognized in the area of Mass Tort Litigation/Class Actions—Defendants by The Best Lawyers In America annually since 2008.

Cliff’s representations have included:

Mass tort litigation:

  • For more than thirty-five years, has defended personal injury and property damage cases involving consumer, occupational, and environmental exposure to chemicals, medical devices, and other products.
  • Represented clients in individual, class action, and community-wide exposure cases.
  • Tried cases arising out of environmental exposure to trichloroethylene, vinyl chloride, PCBs, and dioxins; formaldehyde in home insulation; and occupational exposure to benzene and isocyanates.
  • Defended one of the earliest lawsuits alleging personal injury from exposure to trichloroethylene in groundwater. Thirty plaintiffs' claims of neurological injury, immune dysfunction, and "chronic systemic chemical poisoning" were resolved in a three-day summary jury trial in federal district court in Michigan.
  • Together with Louisville co-counsel, defended thousands of personal injury and property damage claims brought by workers and neighbors at a Superfund site in southeastern Kentucky. Defended bellwether plaintiff claims of multiple myeloma, childhood leukemia, and other illnesses in a 52-day jury trial in federal court that led to a mass settlement of more than 550 plaintiffs' cases. Won a week-long arbitration of a tort of outrageous conduct action. In another bellwether plaintiff case, won summary judgment after excluding all of the causation experts under Daubert.
  • Defended a major defense contractor in lawsuits in Florida in which more than 300 plaintiffs alleged personal injury, diminution of property value, and emotional distress as a result of occupational and environmental exposure to chlorinated solvents and beryllium.
  • Represented a Class I railroad against claims of personal injury and property damage arising out of the derailment of a train carrying Bakken crude oil.
  • Represents a medical device manufacturer in product liability actions in Florida, Texas, West Virginia, and New York.
  • Represents a supplier in PFAS litigation, including a purported nationwide class action in the S.D. Ohio and the Aqueous Film-Forming Foam (AFFF) multi-district litigation in federal court in South Carolina.

Occupational exposures:

  • Defended two of the nation's largest chemical manufacturers against 25 plaintiffs' claims of occupational asthma as a result of exposure to isocyanates and ethylene diamine in the manufacture of the Gore-Tex® waterproof membrane. After a nine-week trial, the jury returned 75 defense verdicts for the two companies and a co-defendant. Successfully defended the verdicts twice on appeal in Kennedy v. Mobay Corp., 579 A.2d 1191 (Md. App. 1991), aff'd per curiam, 601 A.2d 123 ( Md. 1992), which established the "sophisticated user" defense as the law of Maryland.
  • Represented manufacturers of rubber solvent in a four-week trial in federal court in Virginia of three consolidated wrongful death cases alleging that benzene exposure in a tire manufacturing plant caused leukemia.
  • Successfully opposed, in a four-day evidentiary hearing and on appeal, certification of a class action seeking lifetime medical monitoring for chronic beryllium disease.
  • Serves on the national coordinating counsel team in asbestos litigation for a major telecommunications company, developing trial strategy, dispositive motions, and expert, fact, and 30(b)(6) witnesses.
  • Counseled a client in anticipation of a wrongful death action and OSHA citation arising from a workplace electrocution.

Product liability litigation and counseling:

  • In a first-of-its-kind case at the intersection of cybersecurity and product liability, won dismissal of a nationwide class action in federal court in Minnesota alleging that computerized hotel locks were vulnerable to hacking and were therefore defective and in breach of warranty.
  • Represented a manufacturer of spray sunscreen in two personal injury cases in Virginia and Maryland alleging that the sunscreen ignited and caused severe burns to a jet ski rider and a small child.
  • Advised and represented companies on product liability issues involving automotive products, alcoholic beverages, cellular telephones, and food products.

Defamation:

  • Represented a foreign defense contractor as plaintiff in an anonymous defamation case in Pennsylvania state court, twice arguing important First Amendment issues in the Pennsylvania appellate courts.
  • Defended defamation claims by a government contracting official complaining of a contractor’s criticisms of her performance to her superiors.  Resolved the case without discovery.
  • Currently defending a university in two defamation actions brought by a terminated employee and alumni of a campus fraternity.
  • Counseled several firm clients contemplating defamation actions over news media reports, tweets, or statements by competitors.

Wrongful death:

  • Won dismissal for lack of general jurisdiction, after an evidentiary hearing, of a wrongful death case brought against a Kuwaiti government contractor. Baragona v. Kuwait Gulf Link Transport Co., 691 F. Supp.2d 1346 (N.D. Ga. 2007), aff'd, 594 F.3d 852 (11th Cir. 2010), cert. denied, 130 S.Ct. 3473 (2010).

Environmental litigation:

  • With Louisville co-counsel, won a defense verdict after a month-long jury trial against three coal mining companies that sought $140 million in lost profits as a result of their proximity to a Superfund site. The National Law Journal recognized the victory in its annual list of the country's top defense verdicts.
  • Led a trial team in defense of the first citizens' suit brought against a wind energy facility under the Endangered Species Act. This unusual "green versus green" trial received national media attention and was reported on the front page of The Washington Post.
  • Won a two-week trial before a Florida administrative law judge, defeating a community's challenge to an environmental site assessment and remedial action plan.
  • Represents a telecommunications company in a purported class action in state court in Kentucky alleging property damage from the application of an herbicide. 

Litigation against the federal government:

  • Brought a Federal Tort Claims Act suit and tried a Fifth Amendment takings case in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims on behalf of a local real estate developer whose property was contaminated as a result of waste handling practices at an adjacent Army garrison.
  • Successfully represented one of the country's largest engineering firms as plaintiff in a product liability and breach of contract action against the United States and its contractors arising from the lease of radioactive cesium capsules for use in sterilizing medical devices.

Contract litigation and counseling:

  • Defended a breach of contract action in a jury trial in federal court in Tampa, Florida resulting in a dramatic reduction in the damages sought by plaintiffs.
  • Represented a transportation technology company in an injunction action in Massachusetts challenging the award of a government contract to automate the commuter rail fare card system.
  • Counseled a renewable energy company on contract issues following the termination of power purchase agreements.
  • Counseled a Department of Energy contractor in anticipation of a lawsuit for wrongful termination of its subcontractor.

Intellectual property litigation:

  • Defended patent cases involving digital cellular telephone technology, contact lens solution, and the design patent on the "scrunchie" fabric-covered elastic ponytail holder.
  • Won an international trademark dispute, before the American Arbitration Association, on behalf of a leading Italian men's clothing company.

Cliff is a longtime NITA faculty member. He has taught for nineteen years in its Washington, D.C. regional program in Building Trial Skills. He also teaches annually in Crowell & Moring’s Trial Excellence Academy.

Cliff was for many years a member of the firm's Diversity Council. He has done pro bono work in such areas as fair housing, e.g., Feemster v. BSA Limited Partnership, 471 F. Supp. 2d 87(D.D.C. 2007), aff'd, 548 F. 3d 1063 (D.C. Cir. 2008), discrimination against the HIV-positive in adoption, the recognition of a cause of action for negligent handgun storage, Jupin v. Kask, 447 Mass. 141 (2006), and voting rights. He currently leads a team challenging SB 202, the Georgia election law passed in the wake of the 2020 election.  Cliff has been honored for his pro bono work with Crowell & Moring's  "George Bailey" Pro Bono Award and an Idealist of the Year award from City Year.

Education

  • Boston University, B.A. (1976) summa cum laude with distinction in English
  • Duke University School of Law, J.D. (1979)

Affiliations

Admitted to practice: District of Columbia, Massachusetts (inactive)

View More

"NY Court of Appeals Reaffirms Plaintiffs’ Burden to Establish “Sufficient Exposure” to Prove Causation in Toxic Tort Cases," Mass Tort, Product, and Consumer Litigation Alert (May 5, 2022). Contacts: Peter C. Condron, Clifford J. Zatz, Kieran J. Tuckley
Client Alert / Newsletter
The Best Lawyers in America 2022 Recognizes 53 Crowell & Moring Attorneys, One Selected as Lawyer of the Year (August 19, 2021)
Firm News / Announcement
"The Supreme Court Rejects "Causation-Only" Test for Specific Jurisdiction," Mass Tort, Product, and Consumer Litigation Alert (March 26, 2021). Contacts: Rebecca Baden Chaney, April Nelson Ross, Clifford J. Zatz, Gloria Martinez Trattles
Client Alert / Newsletter
"What lessons can be learned from major categories of COVID-related litigation filed in 2020 and how can companies reduce risk in 2021?" Crowell & Moring Webinar (December 8, 2020). Presenters: Sadina Montani, Scott L. Winkelman, Daniel W. Wolff, Clifford J. Zatz, and Allyson McKinstry
Speech/Presentation
"Maryland Joins "Supermajority" of States Adopting Daubert Standard," Mass Tort, Product, and Consumer Litigation Alert (September 3, 2020). Contacts: Clifford J. Zatz, William L. Anderson
Client Alert / Newsletter
The Best Lawyers in America 2021 Recognizes 46 Crowell & Moring Attorneys, Two Selected as Lawyer of the Year (August 20, 2020)
Firm News / Announcement
"Workplace Injury Claims and COVID-19: Anticipation and Prevention," Crowell & Moring Webinar (May 14, 2020). Presenters: Thomas P. Gies, Rebecca L. Springer, Clifford J. Zatz, and Amanda DiSanto.
Speech/Presentation
"Court Tosses Complaint Against Meatpacker Alleging COVID-19 Related Health and Safety Violations," Labor & Employment Law Alert - US (May 6, 2020). Contacts: Thomas P. Gies, Daniel W. Wolff, Clifford J. Zatz
Client Alert / Newsletter
"Massachusetts Governor Affirmatively Employs PREP Act Protections in State Healthcare System," (April 11, 2020). Contacts: Rebecca Baden Chaney, Cheryl A. Falvey, John Fuson, Scott L. Winkelman, Clifford J. Zatz, Stephanie L. Crawford, Mariam Sarwar
Client Alert / Newsletter
"COVID-19 Countermeasure Protections Are Not Absolute," Law360 (April 8, 2020). Authors: Rebecca Baden Chaney, Cheryl A. Falvey, John Fuson, Scott L. Winkelman, Clifford J. Zatz, and Mariam Sarwar.
Publication

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Crowell & Moring LLP is an international law firm with offices in the United States, Europe, MENA, and Asia that represents clients in litigation and arbitration, regulatory and policy, and transactional and corporate matters. The firm is internationally recognized for its representation of Fortune 500 companies in high-stakes litigation and government-facing matters, as well as its ongoing commitment to pro bono service and diversity, equity, and inclusion.

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