Konrad Cailteux is a partner in Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP’s New York office, where he specializes in defending US and foreign corporations in product liability actions, mass tort matters, class actions and other complex litigation, in both trial courts and appellate courts.
Among Konrad’s more notable recent cases is Zeppetella v. Second Chance Body Armor & Toyobo Co., Ltd., a highly-publicized wrongful death case involving a police officer who was killed in the line of duty when his bullet-resistant vest was allegedly penetrated by an assailant’s bullet. Defending Toyobo Co., Ltd., the manufacturer of the fiber used to manufacture the ballistic fabric in the bullet-resistant vest, against defective product claims and other allegations, Konrad and the Weil trial team convinced the jury to return an extremely favorable verdict for Toyobo, including no finding of a product defect. In the high profile silicone gel breast implant litigation, Konrad defended 3M Corporation against claims that 3M should be liable for injuries caused by breast implants manufactured by the successor company to 3M’s breast implant business. Konrad and the Weil team’s strategy of limited and focused discovery, followed by early summary judgment motions, resulted in seven consecutive summary judgment wins for 3M in cases across the country, which effectively ended those types of cases against 3M.
Given the nature of his practice, Konrad has had considerable experience in managing high visibility corporate crisis situations over the years, including media allegations of consumer product defects and consumer fraud; product recalls; allegations of defectively-designed medical devices; lawsuits alleging wrongful deaths due to inadequate clinical trial procedures; lawsuits alleging the use of forced labor and other human rights violations; and lawsuits alleging the submission of false claims to the United States government.
Konrad also is an active member of several committees of the American Bar Association. He has lectured and written on a number of issues involved in the defense of product liability and mass tort suits, including class actions, the admissibility of expert evidence, medical monitoring, the False Claims Act, the Alien Tort Statute, and managing complex litigation. Konrad has also prepared amicus briefs for the United States Supreme Court in numerous high profile cases involving issues of critical importance in the product liability and mass tort area, including the landmark Supreme Court cases, State Farm Mutual Auto Ins. v. Campbell (vacating excessive punitive damages award) and Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael (excluding expert testimony under Daubert).
Konrad received his law degree from Hofstra University School of Law, where he was managing editor of the law review, and is a graduate of the United States Military Academy. Prior to attending law school Konrad served in the United States Army for five years, reaching the rank of Captain.
- German Free State of Bavaria, et al. v. Toyobo Co., Ltd., et. al. – Served as lead counsel for Toyobo Co., Ltd. and Toyobo America, Inc. in action brought by the German States of Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia regarding the purchase of bullet-resistant vests containing Zylon fiber manufactured by Toyobo. The German States alleged that the vests were defective because of defects in the Zylon fiber, and brought claims for RICO violations, fraud, conspiracy, breach of fiduciary duty, Consumer Protection Act violations, and breach of warranties. Konrad briefed and argued motions to dismiss, demonstrating that the Court lacked jurisdiction over Toyobo America, that the German States claims against Toyobo were without merit and, in any event, should be heard in Germany, not the United States. The Court granted the motion and dismissed the claims against both Toyobo and Toyobo America.
- Zeppetella v. Second Chance Body Armor & Toyobo Co., Ltd. – Trial counsel for Toyobo Co., Ltd. in a highly-publicized case regarding a police officer killed in the line of duty. The plaintiffs, the police officer’s widow and young son, brought the case against both Toyobo and the vest manufacturer, Second Chance, claiming that the officer was killed when a bullet penetrated the ballistic vest he was wearing. The plaintiffs argued that both the Second Chance vest and the Zylon fiber were defective, and sought over $30 million in damages. Following a six-week jury trial with significant media coverage, the Weil trial team convinced the Court to dismiss the plaintiffs’ punitive damages, negligence and breach of warranty claims for lack of evidence. And, after ten days of deliberation, the jury returned an extremely favorable verdict for Toyobo. The jury hung on the plaintiffs’ product defect claim, and although the jury found against Second Chance and Toyobo on the failure to warn claim, the jury awarded only $3.5 million in damages, for which the jury found Toyobo was only 10% liable.
- Limbacher v. Second Chance Body Armor, Inc. & Toyobo Co., Ltd. – Trial counsel for Toyobo Co., Ltd. in a case filed by a Pittsburgh, PA police officer who was injured when a bullet penetrated his Second Chance Zylon ballistic vest. The police officer argued that both the Second Chance vest and the Zylon fiber manufactured by Toyobo were defective. Through the use of well-planned in limine motions, the presentation of compelling evidence regarding the lack of defects in Zylon, as well as the introduction of evidence raising significant questions about the design of Second Chance’s vest, the Weil Gotshal trial team obtained a very favorable settlement for Toyobo during the trial.
- Bombardier v. Thermo King – Trial counsel for Thermo King in an arbitration proceeding regarding responsibility for defects in HVAC equipment in passenger rail cars. Thermo King designed the HVAC units, but sold its HVAC business to Bombardier, which manufactured the HVAC units. When defects arose in the HVAC units, Bombardier brought an arbitration proceeding against Thermo King, arguing that Thermo King was responsible for repairing them because they were design related. After a two-week hearing, a three-member arbitration panel found that the testimony and evidence presented by Thermo King demonstrated that the majority of the defects were related to manufacturing issues, not design issues. The panel awarded damages to Bombardier only for those claims for which Thermo King admitted responsibility.
- Morrelli v. Ingersoll-Rand – Lead counsel for Ingersoll-Rand in a $60 million product liability suit filed against it, seeking damages for severe personal injuries to an eight-year-old child due to alleged design and manufacturing defects in a Bobcat skid-steer loader. After both fact and expert discovery, Konrad filed and argued Daubert motions seeking to disqualify plaintiffs’ experts and for summary judgment, arguing the Bobcat was not defective and did not cause the plaintiff’s injuries. The Court granted the motions. Ingersoll-Rand subsequently agreed to settle the case on extremely favorable terms to avoid an appeal.
- Talalai v. Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. – Assisted in the coordination of Cooper Tire’s defense of more than thirty class actions nationwide and a multi-district litigation that arose from claims asserted under state consumer protection statutes involving the sale of more than 170 million tires. Konrad developed and implemented novel strategies for managing these litigations, including convincing the state court judges to work in conjunction with the federal MDL judge, having the state courts jointly appoint the same special master to oversee discovery in all cases, and having five of the state court judges agree to a single joint hearing by teleconference on a key discovery dispute. Konrad subsequently helped negotiate and obtain approval of a nationwide class action settlement resolving all of these actions on terms that were extremely favorable to Cooper Tire. Cooper Tire did not have to pay any cash to class members, but instead provided extended warranties to tire purchasers and created a consumer education program specifically endorsed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Significantly, in approving the settlement, the Court found that, despite extensive discovery, the plaintiffs had failed to point to any evidence of a product defect or a systemic manufacturing problem.
- In re 3M Silicone Gel Breast Implant Litigation – Co-lead counsel representing Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company in numerous actions seeking to hold it responsible for silicone gel breast implants manufactured by McGhan Medical, the company that had purchased 3M’s breast implant business. After 3M lost its first case at trial, 3M asked Konrad to develop a proactive strategy for defending these cases. Marshaling the evidence produced during discovery, Konrad filed and argued a number of summary judgment motions in selective jurisdictions, which were granted by the courts. See, e.g., Felker v. Minnesota Mining & Mfg. Co., 36 F. Supp.2d 863 (D. Minn. 1998); McConkey v. McGhan Medical Corp., 144 F. Supp.2d 958 (E.D. Tenn. 2000); Christian v. Minnesota Mining & Mfg. Co., 126 F. Supp.2d 951 (D. Md. 2001); Healey v. McGhan Medical Corp., 2000 Mass. Super. LEXIS 697 (Mass. Super. March 29, 2001). Using the precedents established by these summary judgment decisions, he then convinced plaintiffs to drop the remainder of their claims against 3M for McGhan breast implants.
- Gelsinger v. University of Pennsylvania – Represented Genovo, Inc. in a lawsuit brought by the estate of Jesse Gelsinger, alleging that Genovo defectively designed and manufactured an adeno-viral vector used in an experimental gene therapy treatment that purportedly caused Mr. Gelsinger’s death. The case was settled on terms very favorable to Genovo.
- Hurd v. Westinghouse Electric Corp. – Co-lead counsel in a class action filed against Westinghouse by workers at its capacitor manufacturing plant in Bloomington, IN, alleging personal injuries from exposure to PCBs. Following class discovery, the Court denied plaintiffs’ motion for class certification, and then granted Westinghouse’s motion to dismiss the case. The Seventh Circuit affirmed both of the District Court’s decisions.
- Monsanto Co. v. Reed – Represented Westinghouse Electric Corp. in litigations filed against it by disposal yard employees who alleged injuries from exposure to PCBs while disposing of discarded transformers and capacitors. Following discovery, the trial court granted Westinghouse’s summary judgment motion. After the intermediate appellate court reversed this decision, Westinghouse appealed to the Kentucky Supreme Court. The Supreme Court reversed the appellate court, and reinstated the trial court’s summary judgment decision. In addition, the Supreme Court specifically rejected the intermediate appellate court’s attempt to create a new cause of action for spoliation of evidence against Westinghouse.
- Nevada Power & Light Co. v. Westinghouse Electric Corp. – Co-lead counsel in action filed against Westinghouse by Nevada Power & Light Company that sought damages allegedly caused by the utility’s purchase and use of transformers and capacitors containing PCBs. After extensive and extremely contentious discovery, the Court granted Westinghouse’s summary judgment motion, dismissing the case.
- LILCO v. General Electric Co. – Represented General Electric in a lawsuit filed against GE by Long Island Lighting Company for alleged defects in the construction of the containment building at Shoreham Nuclear Power Station. Konrad developed and executed a strategy for attacking LILCO’s claim for damages in delay of the construction of the plant, which resulted in LILCO dropping its multi-million dollar delay damage claim before trial. The case subsequently settled after jury selection on terms very favorable to GE.
- Phillip Morris v. Mayola – Filed amicus brief on behalf of Washington Legal Foundation in support of Phillip Morris’s appeal of a $79.5 million punitive damages award in a case where the compensatory damages were only $821,485. The Supreme Court granted Phillip Morris’s appeal and vacated the $79.5 million punitive damages award.
- State Farm Mutual Auto Ins. Co. v. Campbell – Filed amicus brief on behalf of Washington Legal Foundation in support of State Farm’s appeal of $145 million punitive damage award in a case with only $1 million in compensatory damages. The Supreme Court granted State Farm’s appeal and vacated the $145 million punitive damages award.
- Cooper Industries, Inc. v. Leatherman Tool Group, Inc. – Filed an amicus brief on behalf of Washington Legal Foundation in support of Cooper Industries’ appeal of punitive damages award. The Supreme Court granted Cooper Industries’ appeal, finding that the Court of Appeals should have applied a de novo review standard when passing on the district court’s determination of the constitutionality of the punitive damages award, and vacated the punitive damages award.
- Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael – Filed amicus brief on behalf of Washington Legal Foundation in support of Kuhmo Tire’s appeal of 11th Circuit’s reversal of trial court decision to exclude plaintiffs’ expert witness. The Supreme Court granted Kuhmo Tire’s appeal, finding that its Daubert decision applied to all types of experts, and that the trial court had properly excluded plaintiffs’ expert.
- General Electric Co. v. Joiner – Filed amicus brief on behalf of Washington Legal Foundation in support of GE’s appeal of 11th Circuit decision reversing the trial court’s grant of summary judgment to GE. The Supreme Court granted GE’s appeal, finding that the Court of Appeals should have reviewed the trial court’s Daubert decision under an abuse of discretion standard, not with heightened scrutiny, and reinstated the trial court’s grant of summary judgment.