Overview

Our highly regarded automotive and mobility practice combines legal and technical resources with problem-solving in a unique approach that sets us apart from other law firms serving clients in this sector. Our team includes national trial attorneys experienced in representing automotive industry clients as well as former government officials and seasoned environmental counsel.

We provide common-sense strategic counsel and business direction to OEMs, suppliers, startups, and technology companies in court, government investigations, and enforcement actions. We assist clients in negotiations, discovery, and litigation in courts throughout the United States and have decades of experience managing and trying automotive and mobility-related product liability and other complex actions.

Our deep understanding of the regulatory agencies, including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and California Air Resources Board (CARB), helps clients in negotiations and day-to-day communications with the government. We can leverage our relationships with regulators to enhance a company’s compliance program, navigate any issues and, if necessary, defend the company’s position in a government investigation.

We also advise on pre-production development projects, including those involving traditional automotive products, mobility, electric and other alternative fuels, and connected and self-driving vehicle issues.

Experience

Regulatory & Safety Compliance

  • Providing the most current compliance insights, having negotiated – on both sides of the table – most of the landmark NHTSA consent orders and settlement agreements since 2015 involving safety regulatory obligations, including one of the three civil penalty consent orders concluded during the last presidential administration.
  • Negotiating and working with NHTSA representatives to enhance company relationships with agency decision-makers, help companies develop and maintain robust compliance programs, and enable companies to navigate safety regulatory and compliance issues, including recall and field action obligations, investigation response and defense, and recall management and implementation matters.
  • Partnering with corporate counsel to develop targeted safety programs aimed at instilling and expanding a robust corporate safety culture to help avoid future compliance problems and mitigate enforcement/civil penalty risks.
  • Assisting manufacturers and operators of Automated Driving Systems (ADS) and Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) in reporting certain crash incidents involving autonomous vehicles under NHTSA’s most recent Standing General Order (SGO).
  • Providing ongoing advice to the corporate technical/product safety committees of several U.S. and global companies responsible for the determination of defect, compliance, field action, and recall issues for the companies’ respective vehicles and equipment.
  • Creating first-of-their-kind regulatory and legislative strategies for several prominent U.S. and international mobility and automotive clients to advance ADS and ADAS development and deployment in the absence of regulatory certainty.
  • Leading a multi-month comprehensive legal and engineering analysis and assessment for a Fortune 500 mobility OEM on pre-production and design issues for new vehicle products and associated lines that avoided potentially costly safety and quality issues, promoted increased teamwork within the company’s relevant engineering and business units, and promoted the company’s market objectives.
  • Conducting an internal regulatory and safety compliance review for a Fortune 50 multinational corporation and technology company, resulting in key business insights and recommended process improvements for operations and sales in the U.S. and global mobility and automotive sectors.
  • Working with the firm’s Environmental practice group to advise mobility and automotive clients on environmental legal issues, particularly regulatory issues under the Clean Air Act and CARB mobile source emission regulations, and attendant matters before EPA and CARB.
  • Providing clients with common-sense interpretations of federal statutes and regulations with clear business direction for business units, including FMVSSs, early warning (EWR) and TREAD Act reporting, foreign recall reporting, registration, labeling, VIN requirements, vehicle importation, prototypes, and other NHTSA regulatory requirements.
  • Preparing petitions for determinations of inconsequential noncompliance, requests for temporary exemptions from federal safety standards, requests for agency interpretation of existing federal statutes and regulations, and requests for protection of confidential business information (CBI).
  • Providing U.S. and global clients with business development advice on growth opportunities, including identifying new product segment and content feature opportunities, and guidance for startups with go-to-market strategies for novel mobility solutions.
  • Facilitating business partnerships and joint ventures among leading automotive companies, technology and product suppliers, mobility startups, and applicable regulators.
  • Drafting, reviewing, and negotiating contracts and contract language on safety determination reporting responsibilities and recall cost recovery and risk allocation.
  • Drafting, reviewing, and negotiating contracts and contract language on mobility and emerging technology research projects and analysis of product usage, human factors, human machine interface (HMI) considerations, and safety system integrity.

Litigation & Enforcement

  • Maintaining long-standing representation of a U.S. multinational automaker nationally and statewide in connection with product liability, premises and intentional tort, asbestos, and company car cases. Product liability claims include allegations related to handling and stability, restraints (seat belts and airbags), sudden acceleration, and numerous other electrical and mechanical claims that allegedly resulted in catastrophic injuries such as quadriplegia, paraplegia, fatalities, and burns.
  • Representing U.S. multinational automakers statewide in product liability cases involving allegations related to fuel system design, restraints (airbags and seat belts), seat design, and handling and stability that allegedly resulted in catastrophic injuries such as fatalities and burns.
  • Representing a Japanese public multinational conglomerate corporation in product liability and warranty cases in Ohio and West Virginia, including allegations of restraint and airbag defects resulting in fatalities and other catastrophic injuries.
  • Representing a Japanese multinational automotive manufacturer in product liability cases involving allegations of handling and stability allegedly resulting in fatalities and catastrophic injuries.
  • Defending clients in NHTSA enforcement proceedings, defect and compliance investigations and recalls, and a host of other NHTSA administrative proceedings.
  • Working with clients and the firm’s litigators in NHTSA investigations, product liability matters, and class action litigations to cost-effectively identify, preserve, collect, process, and produce relevant and material electronic data and documents involving hundreds of custodians, millions of documents, and documents in foreign languages, including managing review teams for large document review projects in a centralized document review center, and drafting and reviewing discovery responses to NHTSA, other federal agencies, and courts.
  • Working closely with the firm’s litigators in product liability cases, class action matters and cases involving judicial review of federal regulatory decisions, including issues involving associated compliance with federal safety standards, emerging technologies, ADS, ADAS, associated standards of care, and preemption.
  • Creating, in the absence of crisis and in collaboration with the firm’s litigators, modern and innovative approaches for clients that integrate regulatory issues arising in civil actions to benefit product liability litigation, class action litigation, and government inquiries and enforcement cases.

Environmental & Mobile Source

  • Counseling on- and off-road OEMs, including established companies and startups, to bring new compliant products to the market, such as battery electric vehicles (BEV), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV), and fuel cell vehicles, including negotiating with EPA and CARB on Clean Air Act and California statutory and regulatory interpretations and engine and equipment certifications.
  • Negotiating resolution of enforcement cases with EPA and CARB for on-road passenger and light-duty trucks, small off-road equipment (SORE), medium- and heavy-duty trucks, and off-highway recreational vehicles (OHRV) in matters including certification, labeling, warranties, recalls, and testing requirements.
  • Securing EPA import exemptions for foreign, non-certified testing, and display vehicles.
  • Evaluating company-wide compliance with mobile source regulations and advising on risk mitigation, including options for certification and voluntary self-disclosures under federal and California self-policing policies.
  • Working closely with the firm’s Transportation practice group to advise on vehicle safety issues pursuant to NHTSA regulations, including complete vehicle homologation.

Legislative & Policy

  • Providing strategic leadership for U.S. and global automotive and mobility OEMs in crisis management situations for recent high-profile government enforcement matters with significant congressional and media scrutiny, including proactive measures to build relationships with key federal regulators and other stakeholders.
  • Assisting clients in connection with pending federal and state legislative proposals and policy issues, including providing strategic advice and insights, monitoring legislative and regulatory developments, analyzing comments in federal rule-making proceedings, and counseling on day-to-day legal and engineering matters to help navigate the administrative and legislative processes.
  • Preparing legislative testimony and comments for federal rule-making proceedings.
  • Drafting legislative and regulatory language with an eye to providing leadership to advance clients’ business goals and policy objectives.
  • Representing clients before relevant trade associations and industry forums.
Representative Clients
  • Fortune 10 global manufacturer of automobiles and light trucks
  • Fortune 500 global recreational on-road and off-road vehicle manufacturer
  • Global South Korean automotive company
  • Global German multinational manufacturer of automobiles and motorcycles
  • U.S. affiliate of global German commercial truck manufacturer
  • Global Indian multinational manufacturer of automobiles and off-road vehicles
  • Preeminent U.S. heavy duty and medium duty truck manufacturer
  • High-profile, privately held autonomous vehicle startup
  • High-profile autonomous vehicle unit of a Fortune 10 global manufacturer of automobiles
  • Preeminent U.S. and Canadian ridesharing service company
  • Ridesharing service affiliate of a global German automobile manufacturer
  • Several high-profile electric vehicle startups
  • Automotive technology and advanced driver-assistance system companies