Blackwell Burke P.A. Partners to Present at GMA Foodborne Illness Litigation Conference on May 5, 2011 in Chicago

Blackwell Burke P.A. partners Jerry W. Blackwell and Corey L. Gordon will present a session entitled, “The Wizard of Oz and the ‘Expert’ Behind the Curtain: Deconstructing Junk Science and Winning your Case” on Thursday, May 5, 2011, at the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) Foodborne Illness Litigation Conference in Chicago. The GMA is the main trade group of the food industry. Its members include the makers of food, beverages, and other consumer products.

Plaintiffs rely on expert testimony in nearly every foodborne illness lawsuit. This presentation will offer a practical discussion and presentation of successful approaches to Daubert motions and jury trials, including discovery and research, finding and working with real experts, graphics and demonstrations, persuasive arguments, effective cross examination, and how to “bring home” a defense verdict. More details about the conference are available here.

Mr. Blackwell and Mr. Gordon will draw on their recent victories in Newkirk v. ConAgra Foods, 727 F. Supp. 2d 1006 (E.D. Wash. 2010), and Khoury v. ConAgra Foods. These defense victories stand in contrast to other so-called “popcorn lung” suits, which have resulted in significant verdicts and settlements on behalf of industrial workers.

In June 2010, Mr. Gordon argued in a five-hour Daubert hearing that plaintiffs’ expert witnesses had not applied valid scientific methodology in their efforts to link microwave popcorn use to chronic lung disease. The court agreed. A Washington federal district court judge rendered a 70-page opinion granting summary judgment in favor of international food manufacturer ConAgra Foods Inc. on June 24, 2010. Mr. Gordon successfully refuted the plaintiff’s primary argument that consumer exposure to popcorn additives was comparable to industrial-level exposure. The case is currently on appeal.

Mr. Blackwell and Mr. Gordon also successfully defended ConAgra in a similar consumer product liability case brought to trial where consumers claimed lung disease from exposure to microwave popcorn vapors. On July 30, 2010, after a month-long trial in the plaintiffs’ counsel’s home court in Jackson County, Missouri, a jury in the case of Khoury v. ConAgra Foods found in favor of ConAgra on all claims. This was the first consumer case to reach a jury. The case is currently on appeal.

The attorneys of Blackwell Burke’s Food Safety Group represent major food manufacturers — including General Mills as national litigation counsel — as well as food distributors, retailers, and restaurants. Areas of practice include litigation, arbitration, regulatory and administrative actions, third-party discovery issues, and other legal matters. They have successfully represented institutional clients in claims involving food borne illnesses (including E. coli and salmonella), ingredients, product recalls, adulteration and contamination, packaging, product warnings and instructions, processing procedures, kill steps, and other food safety issues. The firm also has experience working with issues involving Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) matters.

For more information about Blackwell Burke P.A. or these cases, please contact Kandy Branch at 612-343-3235.