Clifford J. Zatz, Partner Washington, D.C.
czatz@crowell.com
Phone: +1 202.624.2810
1001 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20004-2595

Clifford J. Zatz is a trial lawyer in the firm's Product Liability & Torts Group. Cliff has litigated product liability, toxic tort, environmental, wrongful death, breach of contract, intellectual property, and cases of emerging risks such as online defamation and cyber security. He has appeared in the state and federal courts of more than twenty states. Cliff has also counseled clients in due diligence, internal investigations, and litigation readiness planning. He has been recognized in the area of Mass Tort Litigation by The Best Lawyers In America annually since 2008.

Cliff’s representations have included:

Mass tort litigation:

  • For more than thirty years, has defended personal injury and property damage cases involving consumer, occupational, and environmental exposure to chemicals 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.
  • Represents a Class I railroad against claims of personal injury and property damage arising out of the derailment of a train carrying Bakken crude oil.

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 sunscreen in a personal injury case alleging that the sunscreen ignited and caused severe burns to a jet ski rider.
  • Advised and represented companies on product liability issues involving automotive products, alcoholic beverages, cellular telephones, and food products.

Other tort matters:

  • Represents a foreign defense contractor as plaintiff in an "anonymous online defamation" case in Pennsylvania state court.
  • 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.

Litigation against the federal government:

  • Brought Federal Tort Claims Act and takings suits 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 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, 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 sixteen 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. Cliff has been honored for his pro bono work with Crowell & Moring's 2015 "George Bailey" Pro Bono Award and received a 2016 Idealist of the Year award from City Year.



Affiliations

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



Highlights, News & Knowledge


Speeches & Presentations

  • “On the Frontier of the Internet of Things: Cybersecurity, Regulation, and Litigation in a Hyper-Connected World,” Joint Program, ABA Public Contract Law Section’s Cybersecurity, Privacy, and Data Protection Committee and Science & Technology Law Section’s Homeland Security Committee (April 13, 2016). Presenters: Clifford J. Zatz, Rebecca Baden Chaney, and David Z. Bodenheimer.
  • "Liability Trends in Cybersecurity and Data Privacy," Crowell & Moring's Corporate Counsel Litigation Forum Webinar Series (February 24, 2015). Presenters: Jeffrey L. Poston and Clifford J. Zatz.
  • "It's All About Protecting the Children: Endocrine Disruptors and Continuing Developments in Causation, Dose, and Epidemiology," American Conference Institute's 5th National Forum on Chemical Products Liability & Environmental Litigation, Chicago, Illinois (April 28, 2014). Panelist: Clifford J. Zatz.
  • "Does This Chemical Make Me Look Fat? The New Frontier of Endocrine Disruption," 2014 DRI Toxic Torts & Environmental Law Seminar, New Orleans, LA (February 20, 2014). Presenter: Clifford J. Zatz.
  • "Obesogens: Are Chemicals Causing the Obesity Epidemic?" 22nd Annual Spring CLE Meeting, ABA TIPS Toxic Torts and Environmental Law and Corporate Counsel Committees, Phoenix, Arizona (April 5, 2013). Panelist: Clifford J. Zatz.
  • "State of the Art of Endocrine Disruptor Science, Regulation and Litigation," Webinar (November 20, 2012). Presenters: Cheryl A. Falvey, Clifford J. Zatz, (with James C. Lamb IV, Ph.D., DABT, Principal Scientist, Exponent; Barbara H. Neal, DABT, Senior Managing Scientist, Exponent).
  • "Does Every Exposure Really Count?" 2009 DRI Toxic Torts and Environmental Law Seminar, Phoenix, Arizona (March 20, 2009). Presenter: Clifford J. Zatz.
  • "Case Screening Issues in Benzene Litigation," Mealey's Benzene Litigation Conference, Marina del Rey, California (June 12, 2006). Presenter: Clifford J. Zatz.
  • "Environmental Tort Liabilities of Government Contractors," Ounce of Prevention Seminar XXII, Washington, D.C. (April 28, 2006). Presenters: Clifford J. Zatz and Beth M. Kramer.
  • "Benzene Case Screening Wrap-Up," Mealey's Benzene Litigation Conference, Phoenix, Arizona (October 17-18, 2005). Moderator: Clifford J. Zatz.
  • “Junk Science—Bunked and Debunked,” ABA Tort and Insurance Practice Section, Toxic Torts and Environmental Law Committee, La Jolla, California (March 12, 1999). Panelist: Clifford J. Zatz.
  • ABA Section of Litigation, Legal Services Advocacy Training Program, Columbus School of Law, Catholic University of America - Washington, D.C. (June 2, 1995). Faculty: Clifford J. Zatz.
  • “Legal Issues in Occupational Asthma,” Symposium on “Allergy and Immunology in the Workplace,” 1992 American Occupational Health Conference, 77th Annual Meeting of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine,” Washington, D.C. (May 6, 1992). Presenter: Clifford J. Zatz.
  • "Civil and Criminal Liability of Terrorist Acts," Annual Meeting, American Society of International Law and International Law Students Association, Washington, D.C. (April 3, 1992). Panelist: Clifford J. Zatz.
  • "Ten Thoughts on Defending a Toxic Tort Case," D.C. Bar Program, "Toxic Torts: a Practical Primer," Washington, D.C. (January 23, 1992). Presenter: Clifford J. Zatz.
  • "Toxic Tort Actions at Federal Facilities," Executive Enterprises, Inc. Briefing on Environmental Compliance at Federal Facilities, Washington, D.C. (November 6, 1991). Presenter: Clifford J. Zatz.
  • “How to Represent the Patient and Industry in Occupational Disease,” American College of Allergy & Immunology, 47th Annual Meeting, Plenary Session, Orlando, Florida (November 13, 1989). Presenter: Clifford J. Zatz.
  • Workshop on Summary Jury Trial, National Conference on Dispute Resolution and the State Courts, Baltimore, Maryland (November 17, 1988). Panelist: Clifford J. Zatz.
  • "The Attorney’s Approach to Alleged Allergic and Immunologic Injury," Sixth Annual Aspen Allergy Conference, Aspen, Colorado (July 30, 1988). Presenter: Clifford J. Zatz.
  • "Summary Jury Trial in Toxic Tort Litigation," Toxic Tort Information Group, Chemical Manufacturers Association, Chicago, Illinois (July 15, 1988). Presenter: Clifford J. Zatz.
  • "Chemicals AIDS: Litigating Immune Dysfunction Cases," Symposium on Science in the Courtroom, Third Chemical Congress of North America/American Chemical Society National Meeting, Toronto, Canada (June 9, 1988). Presenter: Clifford J. Zatz.
  • "Painting Injury by the Numbers: The Myth of the Omniscient Laboratory,” Symposium, “Immunotoxicology: From Lab to Law," Cornell University Institute for Comparative and Environmental Toxicology, Ithaca, New York (October 16, 1987). Presenter: Clifford J. Zatz.
  • "Use of Summary Judgment to Dispose of Fear of Cancer and Risk of Cancer Claims," Toxic Tort Information Group, Chemical Manufacturers Association, Washington, D.C. (October 14, 1987). Presenter: Clifford J. Zatz.
  • "Legal Mechanisms to Combat Terrorism," Hearing before the Subcommittee on Security and Terrorism of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, Washington, D.C. (April 23, 1986). Panelist: Clifford J. Zatz.


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Aug.28.2014 The Best Lawyers In America 2015 Recognizes 40 Crowell & Moring Attorneys
Sep.03.2013 The Best Lawyers In America 2014 Recognizes 41 Crowell & Moring Attorneys
Sep.04.2012 The Best Lawyers in America 2013 Recognizes 44 Crowell & Moring Attorneys
Aug.30.2011 The Best Lawyers in America 2012 Recognizes 43 Crowell & Moring Attorneys
Aug.03.2010 The Best Lawyers in America 2011 Recognizes 44 Crowell & Moring Attorneys
Sep.11.2007 The Best Lawyers in America 2008 Recognizes 34 Crowell & Moring Attorneys
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