Lawyers

Attorney Profiles

Kathleen Strickland

KATHLEEN  STRICKLAND

Partner — San Francisco

EXPERIENCE

Kathleen Strickland has been a trial attorney for more than 30 years. She has tried over 30 civil cases in 14 states, all to a defense verdict. Before turning to civil law, Ms. Strickland prosecuted more than 150 criminal trials. Due to her extensive trial experience, she has been retained as a first chair trial lawyer and punitive damages specialist in many “bet the company” cases. She is a sustaining member of PLAC, Product Liability Advisory Council. She is a certified Mediator, ADR neutral, settlement conference officer for the San Francisco Superior Court and has been selected to serve as an Early Neutral Evaluator for the Northern District Court. She also serves in Leadership appointments with ABA/Tips and is on the Board of Directors of the ABA/Tips Fellows. She is on the Board of Directors of RMKB and serves as Resident Director of its San Francisco office.

Ms. Strickland’s practice focuses on complex commercial litigation, class actions, cybersecurity and mass torts. Her class action experience has involved defense of companies targeted with consumer product class claims. Her class action experience has spanned a wide range of different consumer products on the market. Commercially, she has defended large developers in construction cases as well as defended chemical companies and commercial developers in environmental lawsuits alleging lost profits/business opportunity due to environmental contamination in soil and groundwater. Her toxic tort practice has consisted of defending large multi-national corporations in mass tort and “putative class” cases in which hundreds of plaintiffs seek recovery for injuries allegedly arising from exposure to air or water contamination or from chemical, pharmaceutical or health products.
 
She has served as national trial counsel in litigation involving asbestos, breast implants, drinking water and groundwater, and has acted as regional counsel in lead paint and l-tryptophan cases. Ms. Strickland has been retained to try cases when settlement efforts have failed, and has been retained to prepare the punitive damages defense for mass tort cases. Ms. Strickland’s trial abilities have garnered her membership in the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) at the highest rank, that of Advocate.
 
Ms. Strickland has been consistently named from 2012-2018 by the Northern California edition of Super Lawyers® in the Class Action and Mass Tort category.  She has been recognized by Thomson Reuters - San Francisco Magazine special section, as one of the 50 Top Women Attorneys in Northern California in 2014 and 2015.  For two decades she has held the highest AV rating assigned by Martindale-Hubbell™ and is both a recognized trial lawyer as well as a certified mediator.  She regularly counsels clients on loss prevention. She is professionally active and continues to write and lecture frequently to many industry and professional groups on these topics. For the past 25 years, she has taught Trial Advocacy at both Stanford University Law School and the University of San Francisco School of Law.

For more than 25 years she has been a leader in ABA/TIPS. After 18 years of service as Vice-Chair of the Toxic Tort and Environmental Law Committee, the Product Liability Committee, and the International Law Committee, in 2011 she was appointed by ABA/TIPS to Chair the Disaster Task Force. In August 2012, she received the ABA Leadership in Action Award for Outstanding Contributions to TIPS for the 2011-2012 Bar year due to this work.  Since that time, she has received two other Leadership in Action Awards, in 2014-2015 and in 2016-2017, for her work as Chair of the Cybersecurity Task Force. The success of this work is exemplified by the establishment of a new General Committee for TIPS, which launched in August 2017, entitled the Cybersecurity and Data Privacy Committee, with Ms. Strickland as its first Chair. This is a memorable achievement for both TIPS and Ms. Strickland. It is the first newly created TIPS General Committee in 15 years. She also serves on Scope and the CLE Board, and in the past has been a member of the Long Range Planning Committee.
 

 
CONCENTRATION
  • Jury Trial Practice
  • Mass Torts, including Toxic Torts and Drug, Medical Device and Product Liability
  • Complex Litigation
  • Class Actions
  • Consumer Litigation Defense, including B&P 17200 and Prop 65
  • White Collar Criminal Defense, including Internal Corporate Investigation
  • Construction Litigation
  • Environment
  • Food & Drug
  • Water Law
 
SIGNIFICANT REPRESENTATIONS
  • Tasion Communications, Inc. , et al. v. Ubiquiti Networks, Inc., et al.
    Represented international corporation who designed and sold through various distributors telecommunications cable that was manufactured by a third party. A worldwide class action was brought against Defendant for alleged defects in the cable, with claims of negligence, breach of implied and express warranty, and breach of various states’ consumer protection/fraud acts. Ropers was retained to defend this class action litigation. After class and some merits discovery as well as retention of experts, the case proceeded to the class certification stage. The Court denied the Plaintiffs’ motion for class certification in its entirety. The Court held that the proposed nationwide class (formerly worldwide) for the express warranty claim could not be certified because the laws of each putative class member’s state (or foreign country) of residence applies, and conflicts with those laws meant that common issues did not predominate (Rule 23(b)(3)). Plaintiffs’ reply brief conceded a nationwide fraudulent inducement class could not be certified due to the same predominance issue, but proposed Rule 23(c)(4) issue classes with a national class for breach of express warranty. After determining that a conflict of law analysis precluded a nationwide breach of express warranty class, the Court rejected Plaintiffs’ proposed 8 issue classes, finding a lack of commonality, typicality, superiority, manageability, and adequacy of representation by the proposed class representatives (i.e., the Plaintiffs). Plaintiffs have sought relief from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • Falkenstein v. Shipco Transport, Inc.
    The plaintiff was a longshoreman who was injured at a commercial maritime facility in Southern California.  The plaintiff brought a personal injury action against four entities allegedly at fault for the incident, including our client (a United States common freight carrier) and a Malaysian entity also engaged in the business of international shipping.  The plaintiff dismissed our client and several other defendants from the personal injury litigation, and later obtained a multi-million dollar default judgment against the Malaysian entity as the sole remaining defendant.  Thereafter, the plaintiff commenced federal litigation against our client, alleging that our client was the Malaysian entity’s “alter ego,” or alternatively, had received “fraudulent conveyances” of money and/or receivables from the Malaysian entity that should have been turned over to plaintiff to satisfy the default judgment.  We promptly sought and obtained a court order staying the litigation and all discovery, pending resolution of an appeal by the Malaysian entity challenging the validity of the underlying default judgment (upon which the new federal action against our client was based).  When the stay expired, we successfully moved to dismiss plaintiff’s cause of action for “alter ego” as legally untenable, leaving only plaintiff’s causes of action alleging “fraudulent conveyance.”  Plaintiff thereafter directed substantial discovery demands and motion practice to our client which were patently designed to coerce a prompt settlement.  We successfully limited the scope of permissible discovery and opposed plaintiff’s other motions, ultimately securing sanctions against plaintiff for procedural and discovery abuse.  Shortly afterwards, we obtained summary judgment for our client upon the plaintiff’s remaining claims, completely resolving the litigation in our client’s favor.
  • In re Remy International, Inc.
    We were retained to represent Remy International, Inc. ("Remy") in the bankruptcy proceeding commenced by General Motors Corporation ("GM"). Remy purchased the assets of the former Delco Remy Division of GM pursuant to an Asset Purchase Agreement ("APA"). The APA, executed by and between Remy and GM, placed certain ongoing indemnity obligations on GM in connection with various litigation and potential claims relating to GM products manufactured and premises occupied during the time period prior to the APA.  In the bankruptcy, we assisted Remy secure testimony and documents needed to defend itself in a number of active cases, and subsequently obtained dismissals in all of those actions.  We also assisted Remy in successfully pursuing a claim in the bankruptcy for its costs of defense regarding those actions.  More importantly we obtained for Remy, as part of GM’s confirmed bankruptcy plan, protection from liability for asbestos claims relating to GM products manufactured and premises occupied during the time period prior to the APA.  This is a relatively unprecedented achievement in a bankruptcy that does not involve a Section 524(g) trust.
  • Landtec Investments, LLC v. City of Center Line and Marquee Investments, LLC v. South Macomb Disposal Authority (Michigan Cir. Ct. for the County of Macomb):
    Defended an environmental contractor, municipal authority and five cities in an action by developers of properties neighboring a landfill who allege that contamination from the landfills has migrated onto their properties and prevented development. The plaintiffs seek millions of dollars in claims for cost recovery and contribution pursuant to the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (Michigan's version of CERCLA), as well as tort claims for negligence, trespass and nuisance. Obtained summary judgment on all of the plaintiffs’ claims – cost recovery, contribution, injunctive relief, breach of contract, negligence, nuisance, trespass and fraud – resulting in dismissal of the action.
  • JCCP 4135 - In re Groundwater Cases
    Served as shared counsel to three international corporations, Exxon/Mobil, Fairchild, Hartwell, and as Liaison Counsel to the court in 15 mass tort actions coordinated before the LA Superior Court's Complex Litigation Department in Central Civil West. The 15 actions were filed by over 1,000 plaintiffs, alleging personal injury, wrongful death and property damage, and named as defendants over 50 industrial manufacturing companies and 7 public and private water purveyors. The injuries were alleged to have been caused by contaminated drinking water due to underground TCE, PCE percholorate, dioxane and NDMA as the primary contaminants. After the trial court sustained a demurrer based on the issues of primary jurisdiction and preemption, the case went before the California Supreme Court on those issues. Ms. Strickland's display of leadership skills resulted in her invitation to participate in the Complex Litigation Symposium II presented by the Los Angeles Superior Court Judges handling complex litigation with her role that of critiquing the Judges re: their handling of complex litigation in California courts.
     
  • In Re: Breast Implant National Litigation:
    As national trial counsel, worked with a team of attorneys assembled nationwide to defend 3M in Pharmaceutical litigation involving silicon gel breast implants. Ms. Strickland's role, in addition to serving as trial counsel, was to retain and prepare scientific and medical experts as well as to assist in preparing a punitive damage defense for the company. 
     
  • In Re: RadioFrequency Litigation
    Retained by the "home office" of a Fortune 50 large international company who manufactured cell phones sold in the US to nationally defend and monitor six class actions, consolidated in USDC, in Baltimore, Md. filed by plaintiffs in state and federal court who alleged in addition to personal injury, also alleged unfair business practices. The plaintiffs asserted defendants manufactured, supplied, promoted, sold, leased and provided service for wireless handheld telephones when they knew or should have known that their products generate and emit radio frequency radiation that causes an adverse cellular reaction and/or cellular dysfunction ("biological injury"). A critical part of the defense involved intensive medical analysis as plaintiffs claimed a full range of injuries including brain cancer and systemic illnesses allegedly associated with the product. The case turned on Daubert hearings. After a successful Daubert challenge, also prepared product insert labels for handheld devices. 
     
  • Consumer Cause v. Sony, Inc., et al.
    Retained by the CEA, on behalf of their members to defend a class action filed by Consumer Cause, Inc. in LASC against Sony Electronics, Inc. and 56 co-defendants alleging unfair and fraudulent business practices under California Business and Professions Code section 17200, 17500 et seq. According to the suit, was no standard effective piston area to outside diameter ratio upon which a consumer can rely in assessing the quality and power of a speaker. Therefore, a consumer cannot extrapolate the size of a speaker's EPA and, consequently, its quality and power. The market for these speakers included portable audio, car audio, home audio, and home theater. Case resolved for less than negligence value after successful motion practice.
  • York International v. Lawrence Livermore Lab
    Retained on behalf of national HVAC manufacturer, York International ("York"), in a suit claiming contract damages and construction delay damages regarding installation of air handlers at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory (the "University"), in Alameda County, California. The air handlers were installed to provide temperature control for nuclear work involving lasers. York sought recovery of extra costs and other damages incurred while constructing and assembling Built Up Air Handling Units (AHUs) according to design specifications provided by the University for inclusion in the Laser Building build-out, Site and Central Plant, and CSP-9 portions of the National Ignition Facility Project. After a one-day mediation, York obtained a $1.8 million settlement, representing costs and damages generated by the defective design and changes required by the University.
  • LePrino Foods v. Big D Construction
    Retained by national construction client, York International ("York", to defend a $26 million construction delay damage claim in federal district court in Colorado. This dispute arose during construction of the largest mozzarella cheese manufacturing facility in the United States, for which client York was contracted to install air handlers and chillers. York was dismissed after the court granted York's motion to dismiss based on a forum selection clause. Thereafter, due to a successful defense at a series of material depositions of York personnel, no party brought action against York in the proper forum and ultimately the plaintiff reached a satisfactory settlement with the other defendants remaining in the case.
  • Represented corporate defendant in mass tort case in Southern California where large number of plaintiffs are suing for personal injury, property damage, wrongful death and requesting medical monitoring due to underground TCE, PCE contamination. Allegations of vapor intrusion in homes causing risk of cancer, fear of cancer, decline in property values and request for medical monitoring in separate lawsuits filed.
  • Represented client in personal injury, property damage cases in which 435 plaintiffs sued alleging personal injuries, wrongful death and decline in property value due to groundwater contamination arising from a landfill in Louisiana. The case has been pending for 10 years in Louisiana state court. Ms. Strickland was retained as trial counsel 6 weeks before trial. The case was dismissed when Ms. Strickland disqualified plaintiffs' causation expert.
  • For national client, analyzed the impact of the EPA regulatory case on pending toxic tort cases or threatened toxic tort cases filed arising from 11 separate EPA Superfund sites located throughout the country. Plaintiffs in these cases were alleging personal injuries and property damage as well as requesting medical monitoring because of air and water contamination from underground plumes and landfills containing chlorinated solvents as well as other contaminants.
  • Represented pharmacists as retailers in L-tryptophan litigation sued over allegations of personal injury and death due to contaminated batch of drugs.
  • National trial counsel for the major defendants in the asbestos litigation, the Asbestos Claims Facility. Tried cases throughout the country for these clients as well as manages large dockets of cases in many states jurisdictions.
  • Western Regional trial counsel and manager of all cases west of the Mississippi for corporate defendant in Asbestos litigation.
  • Represented and continue to represent defendants in cases claiming personal injury from benzene exposure.
  • Represented manufacturer in defending multiple consumer class actions for economic damages and injunctive relief brought on behalf of consumers who purchased certain appliances.
  • Successfully represent defendants in Prop 65 lawsuits. Clients have been manufacturers of wine, imported candies and jewelry products as well as users of PCE and TCE, since this allegation has been made in groundwater contamination cases as well.
  • Conducted internal corporate investigation related to charges against corporation and employee of altering test results in the drug approval process in order to gain FDA approval.
  • Ms. Strickland has also been retained to monitor certain proceeding for certain clients concerned that they may be "brought into" litigation. These clients have involved both federal forums and regulatory forums.
 
ARTICLES, PUBLICATIONS
  • Author, "Task Force on Disaster Preparedness and Response: Astellar Inaugural Year" The Brief, Volume 41, Number 4, Summer 2012
  • Author, "Be Prepared for When Disaster Strikes" KCBA Bar Bulletin, Volume 30, Issue 5, January 2012
  • Author, "Reach: A Timely Overview" Chemical Engineering, Cover Story - www.che.com , March 2008
  • Author,"European Union's REACH Will Affect All Manufacturers, Users of Chemicals" BNA, Inc. International Environmental Reporter Vol. 30, No.10, May 16, 2007
  • Author, "European Union's REACH Will Affect All Manufacturers, Users of Chemicals" BNA, Inc. Chemical Regulation Reporter Vol. 31, No. 21, May 21, 2007
  • Author, "European Union's REACH Will Affect All Manufacturers, Users of Chemicals" BNA, Inc. Daily Environment Reporter No. 97, May 21, 2007
  • Author, "Attorneys Say New EU Chemicals Rules Demand Involvement of Corporate Leaders" BNA, Inc. Chemical Regulation Reporter Vol. 31, No. 6,  February 5, 2007
  • Author, "FDA Final Rule on Prescription Drug Labeling", Food and Drug Law, Spring 2006, Volume 3, Issue 1
  • Author, "Daubert: Where Are We and How To Do It", National Groundwater Conference, July 2005
  • Author, "Case Management in 2004: Practical Guide for Mass Tort Practitioners", Class Action Litigation, December 10, 2004
  • Author, "Litigation 101: A Huge Toxic Tort Case Provides Lessons in Litigation and Case Management", The Recorder, May 3, 2004
  • Author, "How to Make Your Daubert Motion", Continuing Education of the Bar, Bay Area Counties, July 2003
  • Author, "Media Management: Before, During and After", ABA Toxic Tort and Environmental Law Conference, 1999
  • Author, "Risk Assessment and Risk Characterization, Does It Work?", DRI Toxic Tort and Environmental Law Program, May 1999
  • Author, "Trial Techniques: Presenting Yourself and Your Case in the Best Light", National Business Institute, 1999; The Women Corporate Counsel Newsletter, April/May 1997
  • Author, "Practical Tips on Trying Punitive Damage Cases", ABA Toxic Tort and Environmental Law Conference, 1998
  • Author, "Trying Cases to Maximize Results", The Litigation Management Institute, April 1998
  • Author, "Adverse Use of Your Public Domain Documents," DRI Toxic Tort and Environmental Law Conference, April 1998
  • Author, "Dealing with the Media, the Industry of Law", ABA Women as Trial Advocates Seminar, March 1998
  • Author, "If Daubert Doesn't Work Here, Where Does It Work?", DRI Toxic Tort & Environmental Law Program, May 1997
  • Author, "Appealing to the Jury of Public Opinion-Dealing with the Media in an Ethical Way", DRI Toxic Tort and Environmental Law Conference, March 1997
  • Author, "The Substantial Factor Analysis as Applied to Environmental Toxic Torts Post-Asbestos", Shepard's Expert and Scientific Evidence Quarterly, Vol. 3, Summer 1995
  • Author, "Applying Toxic Tort Economics to Construction Litigation-It Can Be Done", Shepard's California Construction Law Reporter, May 1995
  • Author, "Creating and Coordinating a Defense Strategy Among Multiple Defendants and Case Management Issues", ABA Toxic and Hazardous Substances and Environmental Law Committee, Spring Meeting, April 1995
  • Author, Managing Litigation to Reduce Costs", ABA National Toxic & Hazardous Substances Institute, 1993
  • Author, "Defense Costs in Toxic Tort Litigation Through Case Management and Defendant Cooperation", ABA Tort & Insurance Practice Section, Toxic and Hazardous Substances and Environmental Law Committee, Annual Meeting, April 1993
  • Author, "Toxic Tort Case Essentials, Strategies, Experts, Motions and ADA Practice," Practicing Law Institute, November 1992
  • Author, "How to Structure a Mass Toxic Tort Trial-- Trifurcation, Bifurcation or Neither: Practical Considerations", PLI Litigation & Administrative Practice Course Handbook, Series No. H4-5103, 1991
  • Author, "The Overlap Between the Regulatory and Toxic Tort Case", DRI Toxic Tort and Environmental Law Conference
 
LECTURES
  • Moderator, "Homeland Security 10 Years Later — How Innovation and Technology Have Changed the Approach to Homeland Security Since the 9/11 Attach", ABA TIPS Fall Leadership Meeting, Seattle, October 13, 2011
  • Moderator, "Port Program — Protecting Our Ports: Security Measures and Business Impacts:, ABA TIPS Fall Leadership Meeting, Seattle, October 14, 2011
  • Moderator, "September 11th, Ten Years Later, Where Are We In The Handling Of Mass Claims Within The Legal System?", ABA TIPS Task Force on Disaster Preparedness and Response Webinar, September 8, 2011
  • Panelist, “Quelling Plaintiffs’ Causation Arguments: Strengthening Defense Tactics by Using Experts and Advancements in Science Effectively and Convincing Courts to Apply the Cause in Fact Standard”, Chemical Products Liability and Environmental Litigation hosted by American Conference Institute, Chicago, April 2010.
  • Moderator, “Recent Developments & Ethical Issues in Class Actions”, ABA Tips Toxic Tort and Environmental Law Program, Arizona, April 2010.
  • Panelist, “Globalization and Litigation: Challenges Presented in Domestic Litigation Involving Foreign Products”, ABA Tips Toxic Tort and Environmental Law Program, Arizona, April 2010.
  • Participant, "Masters in Cross Examination" ABOTA San Francisco, June 6, 2008
  • Panelist, "Mock Mediation: Strategies for Successful Mediation of the Kryptonite Toxic Tort Case", ABA Tips Toxic Tort and Environmental Law Program, April 2008
  • Speaker,"Ethical Issues Raised in Bulk Settlement Agreements in Mass Torts," ABA Tips Toxic Tort and Environmental Law Program, April 2007
  • Speaker, "Creating and Adhering to a Viable Exit Strategy", 4th National In-House Counsel Conference on Managing Complex Litigation, New York, February 6-7, 2007
  • Speaker, "Issues for Downstream Users", REACH Implementation Intensive Workshop, Hosted by American Chemistry Council and Canada's Chemical Producers, Fort Lauderdale, January 30-31, 2007
  • Moderator, "Daubert, From The Judicial Perspective", ABA Tips Toxic Tort and Environmental Law Program, April 2006
  • Lecturer, "The Art of Cross Examination", presented to San Francisco District Attorneys Office, January 2006
  • Lecturer, "Elements of a Successful Litigation Game Plan", CLE, 2005
  • Lecturer, "How to Make Your Daubert Motion", National Groundwater Association Conference, July 2005, CLE, 2005
  • Lecturer, "Risk Assessment and Risk Characterization, Does It Work?", National Groundwater Association Conference, July 2005
  • Lecturer, "Toxic Torts: An Overview", Bridgeport Seminar: Third Annual Toxic Torts in California Conference, October 2004
  • Lecturer, "Toxic Tort Litigation", Mealey's Skills Series, September 2003
  • Lecturer, "Getting the Most Out of Your Expert Witnesses", Continuing Education of the Bar, July/August 2003
  • Lecturer, "Expert Witness", Continuing Education of the Bar, October 14, 2000
  • Lecturer, "Trial Advocacy in California: Trial Techniques", National Business Institute, 1999
  • Speaker, "If Daubert Doesn't Work Here, Where Does It Work?", DRI Toxic Tort and Environmental Law Program, May 1997
  • Speaker, "Punitive Damages: An Interactive Jury Demonstration", American Bar Association, TIPS Section Annual Meeting, 1996
  • Moderator, "Punitive Damages: An Interactive Jury Demonstration", American Bar Association, TIPS Annual Meeting, August 1996
  • Panelist, "Women Gladiators and Mass Tort Litigation, How Tough Do Women Attorneys Have to Be?", National Forum for Women Corporate Counsel, May 1996
  • Moderator, "Dealing With The Media: How To Be Ready For And Handle The Media At Your Door: What To Do And What To Say", Toxic and Hazardous Substances and Environmental Law Program, April 1995
  • Speaker, "Laying Evidentiary Foundations", Continuing Education of the Bar, Bay Area Counties, March 1994
  • Panelist, "Managing Litigation to Reduce Costs", American Bar Association Annual Spring Meeting, April 1993
  • Lecture/Demonstration, "How to Structure a Mass Tort Toxic Tort Trial: Bifurcation, Trifurcation or Neither: Practical Considerations", American Bar Association, National Institute, 1989