Areas of Practice
  • Marquette University, J.D., with honors, 1981
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison, B.B.A., with honors, 1978
Bar & Court Admissions
  • Illinois
  • Wisconsin
  • US Supreme Court
  • US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
  • US District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin
  • US District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin
  • US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
  • US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

Cal R. Burnton

115 South LaSalle Street
Suite 3100
Chicago IL 60603
TEL: +1 312 577 1246
FAX: +1 312 577 1370

Over his 30-year career, Cal R. Burnton has tried and won numerous complex toxic tort and product liability cases, earning a national reputation for his ability to coordinate, manage, and defend mass toxic tort and complex product liability cases with a special emphasis on high-risk matters involving novel legal, scientific, and environmental theories.   His clients have included leading manufacturers and sellers of products such as chemicals, health care appliances, medical devices, electrical equipment, firearms, printing presses, industrial machinery, and power tools.  

Mr. Burnton is a trusted counselor to his clients, advising them on issues regarding, product liability, government regulations, product safety, and related matters.  Throughout the years, he has represented corporate clients in both federal and state courts in almost every state across the country.  Mr. Burnton is a frequent lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and has presented seminars on liability issues in Japan and the University of Warwick in England.  Additionally, he has been an instructor at the National Institute of Trial Advocacy since 1999.  Mr. Burnton has also been involved in law firm professional standards and ethics counseling for many years.

Representative Matters

Mass Tort

  • Served as lead trial and coordinating counsel for chemical manufacturers in numerous lawsuits in both state and federal courts in Mississippi alleging environmental contamination leading to health and property damage. The suits were brought by over 1,400 residents living near a chemical plant. 
  • Served as lead trial counsel in mass toxic tort litigation involving over 500 plaintiffs alleging trespass, nuisance and negligence claims, as well as violations of state regulatory laws in Little Rock, Arkansas. 
  • Represented a chemical company against negligence, nuisance and trespass class action alleging injury and property damage in neighborhood surrounding a plant. Louisiana Supreme Court overturned class certification.
  • Served as lead trial counsel for chemical company in toxic tort and personal injury litigation involving over 500 individual plaintiffs in Alexandria, Louisiana. In the first individual plaintiff trial, where plaintiff's counsel asked the jury to return a verdict in for millions of dollars, the jury was out for 90 minutes and returned a defense verdict for our client on all counts. 
  • Defended chemical company in multiple wrongful death and personal injury suits brought in New Jersey after a chemical explosion at a manufacturing plant.
  • Served as defense counsel in mass tort trial in Charleston, West Virginia, involving neighbors and former workers at a chemical plant. 
  • Represented chemical company in toxic tort litigation in Texarkana, Texas.
  • Served as lead counsel for manufacturer of water tank liner against allegations that the client contaminated water at a community housing facility; case involved claims of personal injury and medical monitoring on behalf of several hundred present and past residents. 
  • Represents foreign corporation in claims asserting veil piercing theories of liability for environmental toxic tort claims brought against acquired subsidiary company. 
  • Represents manufacturer of creosote and pentachlorephenol in ongoing national defense coordination for numerous toxic tort matters filed across the country.
  • Defended regional agricultural cooperative network in five statewide class actions pending in Madison County, Illinois alleging that atrazine, a widely-used agricultural herbicide, caused property damage.

Product Liability

  • Advise clients of responsibilities under Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. 
  • Served as national counsel for well-known toy company advising on compliance with product safety and government regulation
  • Served as national counsel for well-known firearms company.  Coordinated, managed, and defended numerous product liability cases alleging claims of wrongful death, hearing loss, and shooting injuries. Served as counsel in trials in Seattle, Washington; San Francisco, California; and New Haven, Connecticut. 
  • Represented manufacturers of rifles and shotguns against various product liability claims.  Achieved successful defense verdict in trial in Anchorage, Alaska in 2003. Defended other cases in Alabama, Georgia, Texas, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. 
  • Served as national coordinating and trial counsel for manufacturer of wood cutting equipment, trying cases in Seattle, Washington; Iron Mountain, Michigan; and Fort Smith, Arkansas. 
  • Provided counseling and training for Japanese manufacturers, conducting seminars in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Niigata on five occasions. 
  • Counsels clients on national and international product safety issues, warning issues, FIFRA compliance, and drafting Material Safety Data Sheets.

Reported Decisions

  • Price, et al v. Roy O Martin Lumber, et al., 79 So. 2nd 960 (LA 2011)
  • Collins v. Koppers Inc., 59 So. 3d 582 (Miss. 2011)
  • Angle v. Koppers Inc., 42 So. 3d 1 (Miss. 2010)
  • Barnes v. Koppers Inc., 534 F.3d 357 (5th Cir. 2008) 
  • Hill v. Koppers, 2010 WL 323380, 2009 WL 3246630, 2009 WL 3418558, 2009 WL 4908836

To see a complete list of Mr. Burnton’s reported decisions, please click here.



  • The Legal 500 US, Litigation: Product Liability and Mass Tort Defense – Toxic Tort, 2016

Select News & Events

Selected Publications

  • "Danger Ahead, Contamination, Or Other ... Damages," Corporate Counsel
    April 1, 2011
  • "CERCLA's Toxic Tort Discovery Rule: It's Not as Clear as It Reads," BNA's Toxics Law Reporter
    July 2010
  • "New Standard Helps Manufacturers Meet Duty to Warn in Product Manuals," IndustryWeek
    October 22, 2008
  • "Expanding The Duty To Warn In Wash. Liability Cases," Product Liability Law360
    October 21, 2008
  • "Much-Needed Guidance For Product Safety Manuals," Product Liability Law360
    October 16, 2008
  • "Danger Ahead - Caution Needed When Defending Company Witnesses," Product Liability Law & Strategy, Vol. 28 (4)
    October 2008
  • "Narrowing the Field in Mass Torts: The Lone Pine Solution,"
    March 2008

Professional Affiliations

  • Defense Research Institute
  • Illinois State Bar Association
  • International Association of Defense Counsel
  • Wisconsin State Bar Association
  • National Institute for Trial Advocacy