Thursday, April 19, 2012

DRI Products Liability Conference De-Brief

Yes, rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated.  It has been too long since my last post, so it is time to do some catching up.  Last week, I attended the 2012 DRI Products Liability Conference in Las Vegas.  As usual, this conference was an excellent event.  Below are some of the highlights of my trip.


I flew out on Tuesday, mid-morning, and I arrived about 2:30 p.m.   Now...I have done my share of flying, and I do not mind it.  However, this flight to Las Vegas was probably one of the top two or three most uncomfortable flights I have ever been on.  The flight was full, and the folks next to me were very nice...except for the fact that I felt like we were on top of each other.  By the end of it, I had a splitting headache and was looking for the...(er)..."bag" that the airline graciously makes available in the seat pocket.  But, I endured and was better once we arrived (much to the happiness of my seat neighbor).  I am not sure what model plane it was, but I will be looking out for it in the future.  Wayyyyyy too cramped.

I got settled in at the Palazzo (site of the conference) before going to the networking reception that evening.  It was nice to see some old friends, and I also spoke with many of the vendors who had set up booths in the registration room.  (I am a sucker for going by vendor kids love the little items they hand rulers, spongy model brains, etc., and I always like grabbing a spare flash drive.  Many also provide some valuable services, so I enjoy meeting them).

At the reception, I met up with my friends Ed Murphy and John Noyes for dinner.  John is our culinary leader, as he always takes the lead on organizing a fun dinner with great people.  This year was no exception.  The three of us, along with Gavin Huntley-Fenner and Julianne Fox, went to the Eiffel Tower Restaurant and enjoyed a terrific view with fabulous food and conversation.  Gavin and Julianne are human factors scientists, and I really enjoyed meeting them.


Wednesday was the first full day of the event, and there were some great presentations.  I enjoyed a presentation about discovery of plaintiff's experts and a presentation put on by representatives of TASER International, Inc. concerning media bias.  I also hosted a "lunch around" for members of the Agricultural, Construction, Mining and Industrial Equipment ("ACMIE") Specialized Litigation Group ("SLG").  We had a group of about eight members who enjoyed lunch at Postrio Bar and Grill.

I got a little work done during the late afternoon portion of the CLE, but I returned for another networking reception that evening.  Then, I joined my friends on the ACMIE SLG for our annual speaker's dinner, which was at Delmonico Steakhouse.  The food was very good, and we had a large group (all of whom were in some way involved with our SLG breakout session to be held Friday morning).


Thursday was more of the same.  The first presentation was by Curtis Wilkie, the author of The Fall of the House of Zeus: The Rise and Ruin of America's Most Powerful Trial Lawyer.  He shared some anecdotes about the Dickie Scruggs' story.  I also went to the Manufacturer's Risk Prevention SLG breakout and I later enjoyed a presentation entitled, "The Best Defense is a Good Offense: The Pros and Cons of Product Manufacturers Going on the Offensive--Filing Lawsuits to Defend Their Products."  I went to lunch with Eric Junginger at Lagasse's Stadium.  Eric and I met a couple of years ago at this conference, and it is always nice to catch up with him.

That evening, I met up with friends from member firms in Primerus at Rao's Italian Restaurant.  It is always fun when circles "intersect," and when I showed up to meet my friends from Foliart Huff Ottaway & Bottom (who had organized the dinner), I found John Noyes, Julianne Fox, and Gavin Huntley-Fenner.  A nice surprise, and another terrific dinner.

Friday (Wrap-Up and "Home Sweet Home")

The last day of the conference was Friday, and the ACMIE SLG breakout session was held on this particular morning.  Friday sessions are sometimes sparsely attended, but we had around eighty attendees.  We had two panel discussions involving (1) expectations and management of outside counsel (by in-house counsel panel members) and (2) the challenges of litigating legacy (i.e., older) equipment.  Both presentations were very interesting.  Mike McWilliams and Kevin Owens are heavily involved in our SLG and did a great job moderating these two presentations.  Finally, Jennifer Johnson did our annual "Top 10" ACMIE cases.  I did this portion of the breakout last year, and it is always tough to whittle down all the ACMIE cases from the previous year to come up with the "Top 10."  Nice job, Jennifer.  Overall, we had a another great breakout session, and special thanks to our Chair, J.K. Leonard, for his hard work in doing most of the planning and organizing.

I attended the final session of the conference, and then was off to the airport.  My flight back was much, much better (thanks U.S. Airways), and I got home around midnight.  It is always good to get back to South Carolina and my family.

That's it for the conference.  Check in tomorrow for a (belated) announcement my firm made last week.

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