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Hanson Bridgett LLP

Merton A. Howard

Merton A. Howard

Partner

Expertise

  • Environmental & Natural Resources
  • Environmental & Natural Resources
  • Cannabis Law
  • Environment & Natural Resources

WSG Practice Industries

Activity

Hanson Bridgett LLP
California, U.S.A.

Profile

Mert is the Chair of the firm's Product Liability and Tort Practice Group and the immediate past leader of the firm's Litigation and Dispute Resolution Section. He has more than 25 years' experience defending product liability, premise, toxic exposure, class action, and mass tort claims. His cases have involved catastrophic injuries, children's products, chemicals, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, food and related services, consumer goods, aviation equipment, asbestos and other toxic substances, retail, general liability, insurance, and property damage. He also represents clients in business litigation and matters concerning alleged fraud, and unfair competition. Additionally, he assists companies with crisis management and public relations, warnings and instructions, and best practices for litigation avoidance.

In his representation of clients in complex litigation, Mert acts as national, regional, and local trial counsel. He is experienced in legal project management and strategic planning, alternative dispute resolution, trials, and appeals. This includes a flexible approach to managing cases that is designed to provide opportunities for early claim evaluation and resolution, multi-tiered defense strategies, informed decision making, and, whenever possible, reduced transactional costs. When push comes to shove, Mert and his team are well-prepared and ready to advance the appropriate litigation objectives and strategy.

In the regulatory context, Mert guides clients through California's Proposition 65 compliance process, including risk and exposure assessments, counseling, litigation, and settlement negotiations. He also counsels product manufacturers and sellers on issues concerning national and international regulatory compliance and related litigation. This includes coordinating voluntary product recalls, reporting to regulators, and managing risk for products regulated by the CPSC and FDA, among others. Working with a long-time client, Mert became NHTSA certified as a child car seat installation technician, which allowed him to help the client at all levels, including engineering, production, customer relations, deposition, and in the courtroom.

Mert is a nationally recognized speaker and thought leader focused on emerging trends in liability and tort law, as well as trial advocacy, law firm management, and legal education.

Mert currently serves on the Board of Directors for the USLAW Network. He also is a Steering Committee Leader on the USLAW Diversity Council. He has been a long-time member of the faculty of the University of San Francisco School of Law's Intensive Advocacy Program. He is the former President of the USF School of Law Board of Governors and was the 2018 recipient of the USF School of Law's Alumnus of the Year Award.

Bar Admissions

  • California
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
  • U.S. District Court for the Central District of California
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California

Education

J.D., summa cum laude, University of San Francisco School of Law (1992)
B.A., cum laude, University of Connecticut (1989)
Areas of Practice

Cannabis Law | Environment & Natural Resources | Environmental & Natural Resources | Environmental & Natural Resources | Environmental and Natural Resources | Environmental Law | Food and Beverage | Litigation & Dispute Resolution | Litigation & Dispute Resolution | Privacy, Data Security and Information Governance

Professional Career

Professional Associations

  • American Bar Association
  • USLAW NETWORK Board of Directors
  • ABA TIPSâ??Toxic Tort and Environmental Law, Vice-Chair
  • Association of Defense Counsel of Northern California
  • Defense Research Institute
  • Globalaw
  • International Association of Defense Counsel
  • International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organization
  • Bar Association of San Francisco
  • University of San Francisco School of Law, Board of Governors
  • USLAW
Articles

"A Pandemic Upsets Supply Chains as Proposition 65 Enforcement Soars and New Regulations Take Effect," co-author, Environmental Law Alert (April 2020)
"Will There Be A New Home for the Toys "R" Us Kid? The Rise and Fall (And Possible Rebirth) of the Iconic Toy Store," co-author, DRI Product Liability Conference, Children's Products Specialty Litigation Group (2019)
"Forecasting Liability While Connecting to the Internet of Things," co-author, USLAW Magazine (Spring/Summer 2016)
"Product Liability: The Resale of Children's Products Online," co-author, In-House Defense Quarterly (October 2014)
"The Erosion of California's Sophisticated User and Purchaser Defenses in Product Liability Litigation," co-author, IADC Product Liability Committee Newsletter (August 2014)
"California Product Liability Law Liasion Report," Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (July 2013)
"Defending Your Case Through Social Media and In Court," co-author, Association of Defense Counsel of Northern California (December 2012)
"Prop 65 for Non-California Companies," Hanson Bridgett Video Update (May 2010)
"Green Chemistry in California," Hanson Bridgett Video Update (May 2010)
"Review of New and Proposed State Laws Regarding Children's Products," DRI Products Liability (2010)
"The California Electronic Discovery Act," co-author, The Marin Lawyer (August 2009)
"Punitive Damages: A State-by-State Compendium – California" co-author, DRI Defense Library Series (2009)
"Design and Manufacture of Products for Sale in the United States – A Summary of American Product Liability Law – Chapter Five – The Risk of Punitive Damages," Globalaw Product Liability and Toxic Tort Initiative (2006)
"Summary of Published California State Cases Concerning Asbestos Exposure," co-author, University of San Francisco School of Law Continuing Legal Education (May 2004)
"Deposition Strategy for Deposing the Asbestos Plaintiff," ADC 2004 Asbestos Training Series (March 2004)
"Putting the Toxic Tort Case Together – Discovery and Investigation Strategy Checklist and Preparing for and Conducting Depositions," ADC Seminar, Toxic Torts 101 (September 2003)
"Changes to California's Statute of Limitation for Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Claims and the Summary Judgment Statute," co-author (September 2002)
"Handling The Disappearance or Spoliation of Third Party Evidence in The Product Liability Case: Beware The Double Edged Sword," co-author, ALFA Product Liability Seminar (May 2000)
"How The CPSC Handles And Discloses Information On Product Performance And What You Can Do About It," DRI 2000 Product Liability Conference (January 2000)
"Product Liability Update," Hanson Bridgett (various)
"Product Liability Newsletter," Globalaw (various)


Blogs

HB Briefly
Hanson Bridgett LLP 

Briefly is designed to provide readers with updates on the latest litigation developments in California. Our focus is on general litigation as well as issues surrounding class actions, products liability, discovery, privacy, cybersecurity, and the professional practice of law.

WSG's members are independent firms and are not affiliated in the joint practice of professional services. Each member exercises its own individual judgments on all client matters.

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