Derek Smith is an experienced litigator who represents chemical, pharmaceutical, and manufacturing clients in challenging commercial, product liability, and toxic tort matters. He regularly counsels these clients in environmental, health, and safety matters, and also defends them against personal injury and property damage claims brought by individual, mass, and class plaintiffs throughout the United States.
Derek’s success in the defense of complex matters requires a command of such principles as toxicology, epidemiology, occupational medicine, and industrial hygiene. His in-depth understanding of the complex science involved in his cases paired with his ability to translate the issues in a clear and concise manner to juries makes him a powerful force in the courtroom. Additionally, Derek’s in-depth knowledge of each client’s business allows him to develop strategies and defenses that most effectively meet the client’s objectives and limit potential liabilities.
Complementing his litigation practice, Derek also advises clients on the development and implementation of Electronically Stored Information (ESI) programs and policies. In this ever-evolving area, he helps clients understand how the latest technology impacts their legal risks and obligations in creating, maintaining, protecting, and, in the face of threatened litigation, producing ESI.
- US District Court, Northern District of Illinois
- US District Court, Southern District of Illinois
- US District Court, Central District of Illinois
- US District Court, Northern District of Ohio
- US District Court, Southern District of Ohio
- J.D., University of Cincinnati College of Law, 1997
- B.B.A., University of Toledo, 1994
- Defended a chemical supplier against a roofer who alleged that occupational exposure to the client’s product resulted in chronic lymphocytic leukemia. The plaintiff made a seven-figure settlement demand, but the client rejected it in favor of a dispositive motion on the eve of trial. The motion sought to dismiss the case on the grounds that a general causal association did not exist between the plaintiff’s alleged injury and occupational exposure to the client’s product. The motion also attacked the plaintiff’s expert’s attempt to create a causal association by analogizing leukemogenic risks from similar products with the specific product at issue. The court rejected the plaintiff’s expert theory and granted the motion, dismissing all claims one week before trial.
- Earned a defense verdict in a one-week trial involving a plaintiff’s claim that a splinter from the client’s product contained arsenic and injured him. The result was important in limiting the potential precedential impact an adverse verdict could have had on a product in which splinters were not uncommon.
- Represented a major aerospace company in a breach of contract and replevin action. The lawsuit involved the defendant’s use of the client’s $250,000 aircraft engine. The defendant refused to voluntarily return the engine, which necessitated the filing of the lawsuit and replevin action in state court. The client was ultimately successful in recovering the engine, plus additional damages.
- Counseled a home water cooler manufacturer and distributor in a potential class action suit arising out of a product recall. After successfully objecting to the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s public disclosure of certain documents relating to the recall, the plaintiffs’ law firm dropped its threat of litigation.
- Defended a healthcare provider in a lawsuit against a major health insurance company that refused to pay for thousands of health care services. After a week-long trial, the defendant ultimately agreed to a confidential settlement.
- Represented numerous window manufacturer distributors throughout the United States in response to a subpoena duces tecum. Plaintiffs’ counsel who issued the subpoena was seeking to certify both national and state consumer class actions against the window manufacturer, and demanded that the distributors retain all windows allegedly supporting the claim. After convincing the plaintiffs’ counsel of the impropriety of the request, the subpoenas were ultimately quashed and no windows were retained.
"Electronically Stored Information and Ethics: Implications for In-House Counsel," Association of Corporate Counsel Chicago, September 26-27, 2017
News & Publications
Defense Counsel Journal
August 7, 2019
June 2, 2017
June 15, 2016
April 27, 2015
March 6, 2015
February 18, 2015
- Legal 500 US, Litigation: Product Liability and Mass Tort Defense - Toxic Tort (2016-2017)
- Advisory Board member, KidsMatter, a not-for-profit organization in Naperville, IL