Richard E. (Rick) Wallace, Jr., Partner Washington, D.C.
rwallace@crowell.com
Phone: +1 202.624.2609
1001 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20004-2595

Rick Wallace specializes in complex civil litigation and arbitration. Rick has litigated hundreds of tort and contract cases nationwide, including mainly product liability, environmental, and commercial matters. He has appeared in state and federal courts in nearly 40 jurisdictions and has arbitrated cases around the world. Rick is both a counselor and a trial lawyer. He advises clients in high exposure litigation, often spanning numerous venues and involving hundreds, thousands, or even millions of claimants, and he assists clients in both navigating the courts and finding solutions. He has structured and implemented settlements worth hundreds of millions of dollars in the aggregate. His ability to resolve matters is bolstered by his ability to try cases when necessary. He recently won a four month jury trial for a global Fortune 10 company.

Rick is the national trial counsel and coordinating counsel for major clients in mass tort matters across the country. He represented four oil companies in a putative nationwide class action in which he was appointed by the court as liaison counsel for the industry. He also represented three companies in another putative national class action, and several companies in putative statewide and regional class actions around the nation. He currently represents defendants in multidistrict litigation on product liability claims and serves on the defense steering committee for cases involving hundreds of parties.

Rick has considerable appellate experience, having successfully defended trial court victories in state and federal appellate courts. He also has represented trade associations and other parties as amici in state and federal appeals.

Rick has arbitrated cases before various tribunals over issues ranging from construction disputes to contract claims to environmental liabilities. He also has served as a sole arbitrator and on panels of arbitrators in various matters.

Rick has been recognized for his work in litigation by Chambers, DC Super Lawyers and Who’s Who in American Law. He is a fellow of Litigation Counsel of America and the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. Rick has performed a significant amount of pro bono work. He has worked on reform litigation in the mental health field and accepted a court appointment to handle the trial of a federal class action on behalf of Hispanic prisoners in the D.C. corrections system. He is also an active pilot with Angel Flight, flying cancer patients between their homes and treatment centers. He is a father of four, aging hockey player, reckless skier, and trout bum.

Representative Engagements

  • Currently defending major oil companies in multidistrict litigation in the S.D.N.Y. over products liability and environmental damage claims, including mainly claims by state attorneys general from various states.
  • Currently defending major oil companies and an environmental engineering firm in a mass tort action in Illinois in which some 70 plaintiffs allege various forms of personal injuries allegedly caused by exposure to chemicals from a pipeline spill.
  • Recently settled product liability claims against a leading manufacturer of computer hardware in a case claiming property damage and fatal injuries from a fire allegedly caused by a laptop battery.
  • Defeated state-wide class actions in California and Florida in which putative classes of more than a million boat owners in those states asserted product liability claims alleging that ethanol in gasoline damaged engines and fuel systems. Claims dismissed based mainly on federal preemption doctrine and the federal standards requiring ethanol in gasoline.
  • Defeated state-wide class actions from 17 states in which classes purporting to represent some 18 million homeowners with private water wells alleged claims for well testing, well treatment, and loss in property value due to the presence or risks of chemical contamination of their wells.
  • Defeated class certification and then won summary judgment on claims by owners and residents of hundreds of homes in Louisiana built over a former refinery seeking damages for alleged loss in property values, medical monitoring, and personal injuries. Summary judgment granted on the basis that the risk of contamination was disclosed in the chain of title. Judgment affirmed in the Fifth Circuit.
  • Won motion to dismiss commercial claims in favor of arbitration on behalf of a Fortune 500 chemical company. Dismissal upheld in the Second Circuit. Proceeded to arbitrate claims successfully.
  • Won summary judgment in a putative nationwide class action purportedly brought on behalf of the owners of all properties in the vicinity of any contaminated gasoline station in the U.S. Case brought against the oil industry. Represented four majors and served as court-appointed liaison counsel. Claims revolved around alleged conspiracy to suppress developments in technology to prevent leaks and spills in order to avoid costs. Summary judgment granted on the conspiracy claim, leading to voluntary dismissal of remaining claims.
  • Won summary judgment in two companion cases, one brought by owners of hundreds of residential properties and the other by owners of multiple commercial properties, all constructed on land that was once an oil producing field in Texas. Judgment granted on ground that subsequent purchasers cannot recover for alleged diminution in value based on conditions that predated their purchases. Judgment affirmed in the Fifth Circuit.
  • Won summary judgment on claims of owners of hundreds of homes in Virginia who alleged loss in property values due to widespread subsurface contamination in a subdivision from a nearby petroleum distribution terminal. Summary judgment granted on the ground that “stigma damages” from mere proximity to contamination is not actionable. Judgment affirmed in the Fourth Circuit.
  • Excluded expert evidence of exposure and medical causation under Daubert,and then won summary judgment for lack of evidence, in action alleging personal injuries due to exposure to air emissions from a release of avjet fuel. Judgment affirmed in the Fourth Circuit.
  • Won summary judgment on claims by dozens of homeowners for injunctive relief under RCRA seeking cleanup beyond that which U.S. EPA required. Judgment granted based on federal preemption. Judgment affirmed in Fourth Circuit.
  • Negotiated global settlement of 59 cases between 19 oil companies and some 300 plaintiffs across 18 states, including numerous counties and municipalities as well as public and private utilities, and served as liaison counsel for defendants in obtaining approval of the settlement in an MDL court. Quoted in media reports around the country about the settlement, including the NY Times, LA Times, Houston Chronicle, San Francisco Chronicle, and CNBC. Also interviewed in a History Channel report on the underlying claims.


Affiliations

Admitted to practice: District of Columbia, Maryland, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second, Fourth, and Fifth Circuits, U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Tax Court, District of Columbia Court of Appeals

Professional Activities and Memberships

  • Member, American Bar Association
  • Member, Bar Association of the District of Columbia
  • Member, Maryland Bar Association
  • Member, American Arbitration Association
  • Volunteer, Rebuilding Together

Awards

  • Named among “America’s Leading Lawyers for Business” by Chambers USA
  • Fellow of the U.K. based Chartered Institute of Arbitrators
  • Fellow of the U.S. honorary society Litigation Counsel of America


Speeches & Presentations

  • "Regulation Is Better than Litigation," RemTec Summit, Denver, CO (2015). Presenter: Richard E. Wallace, Jr.


Publications

  • "Consolidated Arbitration in the United States: Recent Authority Requires Consent of the Parties," 10 J. Int’l Arb. 5, Switzerland (1993). Author: Richard E. Wallace, Jr.
  • "Immunity for Arbitrators Under United States Law," The Immunity of Arbitrators, England (1990). Authors: Richard E. Wallace, Jr.
  • "Interest Awards in International Commercial Arbitrations," 28 Va. J. Int’l L. 919 (1988). Author: Richard E. Wallace, Jr.
  • "Developments in International Arbitration in the United States," Jahrbuch der Schiedsgerichtsbarkeit , Germany (1988, 1989, 1990). Author: Richard E. Wallace, Jr.
  • "Court-Ordered Consolidated Arbitrations in the United States," 5 J. Int’l Arb. 5, Switzerland (1988). Author: Richard E. Wallace, Jr.
  • "Choosing the Substantive Law to Apply in International Commercial Arbitration," 27 Va. J. Int’l L. 39 (1986). Author: Richard E. Wallace, Jr.
  • "Legal Rights and Mental Health Care," Lexington Books (1983); reprinted by McMillan Publishing (1985). Author: Richard E. Wallace, Jr.


In the News



Firm News & Announcements

Jun.01.2017 Leading Litigators Richard Wallace and Peter Condron Join Crowell & Moring's Mass Tort, Product, and Consumer Litigation Group