Background - Practices (Details)

Media Relations and Public Affairs

Large-scale, multi-state litigation often involves publicity. Plaintiffs' counsel have become increasingly adept at generating one-sided and potentially damaging media activity as a means of advancing their cases and putting pressure on defendants. In this type of litigation, a sophisticated media strategy (large or small) is often important to a successful defense effort.

We are familiar with plaintiffs' media tactics and have worked with clients and media firms to address plaintiffs' media initiatives. Initially, these mechanisms involve media management in the context of case coordination to ensure that media efforts are consistent with litigation goals and do not interfere with the lawsuits. We highlight our experience in both areas, below.

Representative Matters

  • Lead paint litigation communications. We act as chief counsel for DuPont with respect to all communications on its lead paint cases, coordinating the company's activities with inside counsel and public relations professionals, as well as with counsel for other defendants and an outside communications firm. We develop strategy and activities to counter the sophisticated use of media by adversaries ranging from Ness Motley to Peter Angelos and assorted public interest groups.
  • Ritalin press activity. As mentioned above, tobacco lawyers Dickie Scruggs and John Coale, in filing the Ritalin lawsuits against our client the American Psychiatric Association and Novartis, initiated a flurry of media activity. They have continued to seek maximum press coverage to define the parameters of public debate on many of the core issues in the litigation. An important part of our role is to coordinate our litigation strategy with an aggressive, ongoing media debate.
  • Fungicide health effects cases. In fungicide birth defect cases in which we represent the manufacturer, sensational media articles alleging an association with the company's product have been a regular feature now for seven years. Programs have aired on major British and New Zealand television, on CNN, and in many newspapers. We have assisted the company in developing dozens of press statements, "Qs & As," and similar materials to set forth the company's position on these issues without negatively affecting the company's litigation position.
  • DuPont product and toxic tort cases. In our series of DuPont national coordination representations, we likewise have regularly advised the company on its media strategy involving publications from the Wall Street Journal to small, local newspapers in Florida and elsewhere. We provide media statements and materials to address negative publicity arising out of the lawsuits and helped the company's media managers develop appropriate strategy.
  • National agricultural environmental cases. In a series of lawsuits alleging pollution from livestock facilities, we have taken the lead in providing a media response that has included, among other things, appearances on National Public Radio and local radio broadcasting and extensive work with the industry trade association's public relations arm.

In these and numerous other matters, we either work with in-house counsel and media personnel to develop a public relations approach, or we assist outside media management firms if the matter merits outside resources and experience.