Michael J. Sullivan

Womble, Carlyle, Sandridge and Rice

Clients turn to Michael Sullivan for senior-level strategic guidance in mass tort product liability litigation and other large-scale commercial litigation.

Michael brings nearly three decades of experience in “bet-the-company” cases. He serves in the role of “outside General Counsel” or Coordinating Counsel, providing big-picture advice to craft successful litigation strategies, increase efficiencies and contain costs. Michael collaborates with clients on a wide range of high-end business problems, including mass tort litigation.

Michael served as National Coordinating Counsel, Chief Litigator and Case Manager for a global automotive company in the national asbestos friction litigation. In this role, he teamed with the client’s Office of General Counsel in managing large mass tort docket involving defense of claims related to asbestos. His specific work in that litigation included:

  • Devising and implementing a strategy for three automakers to remove all asbestos friction cases from state courts across the country into the bankruptcy court.
  • Gathering and reviewing client documents and information relative to asbestos-containing products. Simultaneously identified, interviewed, worked with, and developed corporate witnesses and testimony.
  • Reviewing, evaluating, replacing and developing effective local counsel – 37 local firms in all.
  • Negotiating package and group resolutions in high-volume jurisdictions in conjunction with a trial strategy. This managed fees and costs while reducing settlement averages in all three disease categories.
  • Overseeing the systematic and strategic development of jury research projects including juror interviews, establishing central tenants of the client’s defense, streamlining the appropriate information for jury consideration and pinpointing nuances and necessary structure and information for each key jurisdiction.
  • Creating and implementing risk analysis protocol following early evaluation of appropriate cases for risk, cost, early resolution, and trial.
  • Identifying “out source” services for case support.
  • Identifying, training and coordinating a limited team of lead trial lawyers, usually seven or eight, used in cases around the country. Michael implemented alternative fee arrangements for these trial teams which resulted in substantial cost savings while maintaining quality in the trial preparation and performance.
  • In conjunction with trial counsel, Michael developed a key checklist of tasks needed from all local counsel. This ensured that each phase of the case was prepared well and within budget.
  • Coordinating with other automakers in organizing, developing and coordinating an Expert Witness Program which continually provided new experts for the friction defendants, developed the scientific and medical literature supporting the defenses, standardized expert testimony, exhibits and presentations and shared costs associated with all the above.

He also has served as local counsel in large-scale asbestos and toxic tort litigation. Served as Local Counsel in mass tort cases involving asbestos and breast implant product liability issues that included the management of thousands of cases and millions of dollars in liability.

Michael is a member of the International Association of Defense Counsel and a Fellow in the Litigation Counsel of America. He also serves as the Office Managing Partner of Womble Carlyle’s Atlanta office.