Goodell, DeVries, Leech & Dann, LLP
Mr. Leech is one of the founding partners of the firm. He has an extensive practice in the areas of product liability, employment, insurance coverage, toxic tort and commercial and business litigation.
Mr. Leech has represented major corporations and insurers in product liability matters involving chemical, pharmaceutical, manufacturing and consumer product industries. He has tried cases involving such diverse products as elevators and escalators, motorcycles, pharmaceutical products, specialty chemical and punch presses, among others.
On September 2, 2010, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Phillips v. Fujitec America, Inc., et al., 3 A.3d 324 (D.C. 2010). Mr. Leech represented Fujitec America, Inc., an elevator manufacturer and installer. A young woman had tragically fallen to her death while trying to climb out of an elevator cab that was stalled between floors of a building which she was visiting. Mr. Leech won summary judgment in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, arguing that the decedent was contributorily negligent and had assumed the risk of injury by climbing out of the elevator, instead of listening to instructions to wait for help to arrive. Mr. Leech also argued the case on appeal.
In the area of pharmaceutical products, Mr. Leech defended Merrill Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., in litigation involving its product Bendectin, and tried one of the first Bendectin cases,Oxendine v. Merrill Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Mr. Leech also defended Warner-Lambert Company in product liability actions involving its product, Dilantin. In that litigation, Mr. Leech successfully defeated a petition for class certification that would have otherwise created a national class. Mr. Leech has also represented Pharmacia, Upjohn and Bristol-Myers Squibb in pharmaceutical product liability litigation
Mr. Leech has been active in the defense of employment-related litigation for the last twenty years. He represented American Standard Corporation in the first case in which the Court of Appeals of Maryland recognized a cause of action for "abusive discharge." He represented Marriott Corporation in a cause of action brought by a discharged executive-level employee that included claims for breach of contract, breach of implied contract, defamation and punitive damages. After more than four weeks of trial in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Marriott Corporation on all causes of action. Mr. Leech has defended cases involving allegations of employment discrimination for American Standard, Canteen Corporation, Denny’s and The Men’s Wearhouse, among others.
In the area of insurance coverage, Mr. Leech represented the Travelers Indemnity Company in a declaratory judgment action involving 44 insurance carriers pending in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, Nationwide v. Lafarge Corporation, et al. This case involved an underlying claim for over $100,000,000.00 in damages related to the premature deterioration of reinforced concrete railroad ties being used by all of the railroads in the Northeast corridor. Lafarge Corporation was seeking reimbursement of its cost of defense in an amount exceeding $27,000,000.00. Many of the issues were resolved on cross-motions for summary judgment, but a trial involving the fairness and reasonableness of expenses incurred by counsel for Lafarge Corporation was conducted before The Honorable Alexander Harvey, II and a jury in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland resulting in a verdict that saved Mr. Leech’s client over $8,000,000.00.
In asbestos litigation, Mr. Leech represented Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. for over 10 years. More recently, he tried a group of mesothelioma cases to verdict in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City for a ship-fitting company. In the area of construction litigation, Mr. Leech currently represents the owner of a large commercial apartment complex against the design professionals, the general contractor and several sub-contractors.
In the area of toxic tort litigation, Mr. Leech has represented the Dow Chemical Company, Dow Brands and Dow Elanco against claims relating to various chemicals and consumer products, including insecticides such as Dursban. In Kahn v. Dow Elanco, Mr. Leech represented Dow Elanco in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland in claims involving the development of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Syndrome as a result of alleged Dursban exposure.
As part of his commercial and business litigation practice, Mr. Leech has represented the owner of closely held corporations and partnerships and joint ventures in a dispute with the estate of the client’s ex-partner, ex-co-owner and ex-joint venturer. Mr. Leech represented American General Financial Services in litigation involving the “imposter rule” under the Uniform Commercial Code. In that case the person presenting the negotiable instrument for negotiation was guilty of identity theft. Mr. Leech handled this particular case for American General Financial Services at all levels, including oral argument in Maryland’s highest court, the Court of Appeals of Maryland. Mr. Leech has handled litigation involving commercial leases and the rights of minority shareholders in the Court of Special Appeals and the Court of Appeals of Maryland. He has defended one condemnation trial to verdict involving the valuation of a commercial property in Baltimore City. He has also tried to verdict a case involving a bankers blanket bond in which he represented a commercial bank against its surety company.