James T. Smith

Biography

James T. Smith has more than 30 years of experience in complex commercial litigation and white collar criminal defense, nationwide. He serves both corporate and individual clients in a wide variety of industries including technology, transportation, healthcare, aerospace, and defense, in disputes involving fraud and abuse, intellectual property, corporate governance, government and internal investigations, white collar criminal defense, and breach of contract and related claims, and many other areas. James formerly served as chair of Blank Rome's Litigation Department, overseeing more than 250 attorneys across nine practice groups and 13 offices.

James served as a law clerk to the Honorable Genevieve Blatt of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania.

Chambers USA recognizes James as a leader in general commercial litigation, noting that he is considered to be a “fantastic litigator” and that one source stated “that he is able to ‘strategically think ahead and figure out the best route to that solution better than anyone I have ever met.’”

Experience

Representing Johnson & Johnson in a wrongful death/product liability suit.

Mr. Smith was brought in by client Johnson & Johnson to handle a trial in St. Louis, Missouri involving three female plaintiffs who alleged that Johnson & Johnson failed to warn them that talcum powder could cause ovarian cancer.  Mr. Smith was brought in on the heels of a $110 million dollar verdict that was entered against Johnson and Johnson the month prior.   During the trial, the Supreme Court ruled that state courts cannot hear claims against companies that are not based in the state when the alleged injury did not occur there.  The ruling immediately led the St. Louis Court, at Johnson & Johnson’s urging, to declare a mistrial.  Mr. Smith is now a part of Johnson & Johnson’s “talc team” and is set to try the next case currently scheduled to take place in the fall of this year.

Representing DePuy Synthes (Johnson & Johnson) in wrongful death/product liability litigation.

Mr. Smith’s litigation practice continues to work on a series of high-profile, high-exposure cases for the medical device manufacturer DePuy Synthes—part of Johnson & Johnson. Each matter involves wrongful death claims by plaintiffs whose decedents died after spine surgeons injected a cement known as Norian into the vertebrae during spinal surgery. The plaintiffs contend that the Norian cement caused the deaths, which is a hotly contested issue in every case. The plaintiffs also contend that the company promoted the Norian bone cement for off-label use in the spine. These cases are challenging, complicated, and receive national attention.

Mr. Smith tried one of the cases in Seattle, Washington, Golden, v. Jens Chapman, M.D., et al., where the matter settled in the sixth week of trial for very favorable but confidential terms for our client. The case involved the death of a patient during spinal surgery at Harborview Medical Center (part of the University of Washington) in Seattle. Plaintiff’s surviving children alleged that Synthes promoted a product for off-label use, that the product was defective for that use, and that the defect caused her death. The trial was live-streamed on the Courtroom View Network.

The Golden case commenced trial in June 2016; trial in a parallel case arising from the 2007 death of another patient – Bryant, et al. v. Jens Chapman, M.D., et al. – was scheduled to start almost immediately after conclusion of trial in the Golden matter. Both cases had received considerable press attention both locally and nationally.  The Bryant case settled very favorably after four weeks of trial.

Representation of John Middleton, owner of the Philadelphia Phillies, in trust-related litigation.

We continue to work on a high-stakes engagement on behalf of John S. Middleton, a majority owner of the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team. With an estimated net worth of approximately $3 billion, his family is the wealthiest in Pennsylvania.

Middleton engaged us to act for him in an acrimonious dispute with his sister over a series of complex business deals. In 2003, Middleton bought out his sisters and other family members of the family conglomerate. He sold the tobacco business (one of the companies in the conglomerate) to Altria, the parent of tobacco giant Philip Morris, for $2.9 billion in 2007. Middleton's sister, Anna, filed a lawsuit against him claiming that he failed to disclose material information in the 2003 buyout and breached fiduciary duties. Our client denies all of the allegations of wrongdoing and maintains that there was no self-dealing or conflict of interest. Anna’s claims were settled in February 2018.

 ADDITIONAL REPRESENTATIVE MATTERS

  • Publicly traded commercial lender—$250 Million lender liability claim and related bankruptcy proceeding. One week trial resulted in dismissal of Debtor’s case by Bankruptcy Court, finding that case was filed in bad faith.
  • Publicly traded medical device manufacturer—complex criminal, civil, and administrative representations involving off-label promotion.
  • Private equity fund—recover in excess of $50M of investors’ funds that were lost due to negligence by auditors who failed to detect the ongoing fraud in annual audits.  Case settled against auditors in May 2017.
  • Two psychologists—engaged as contractors by the Central Intelligence Agency following 9/11 attacks to develop enhanced interrogation techniques for high value detainees captured in foreign countries.  Three foreign nationals filed suit in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Washington for alleged violations of the Alien Tort Statute.  Favorable settlement in August 2017.
  • Publicly traded videogame manufacturer—secured summary judgment against plaintiffs in a $600 million claim involving theories about alleged effects of violent videogames.
  • Publicly traded defense contractor—negotiated highly favorable resolution of criminal and civil fraud prosecution.
  • Publicly traded branding company—jury awarded approximately $45 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages following a three-month jury trial involving breach of contract, fiduciary duty, trademark infringement, conversion, and other claims.
  • Transportation systems service provider—awarded $30 million in a six-week arbitration involving claims that shareholders of a newly acquired Texas company misrepresented its financial condition.
  • Financial services software provider—bankruptcy litigation arising from the acquisition of a business solutions provider for $825 million; the financial services software company was ultimately declared the successful bidder and the transaction closed successfully.
  • Aerospace and defense company—three-month jury trial involving breach of contract, fraud, and other claims against a Texas company and other companies, resulted in a $9 million award for our client.
  • Food-processing company—class-action claims involving toxic-tort exposure to children while in utero, in which plaintiffs ultimately withdrew complaint. Trial court subsequently sanctioned plaintiffs' counsel for $1 million in fees and costs.
  • Defense company—arbitration where claimant sought $175 million in damages for breach of contract and related claims; claimant was awarded nothing.
  • Publicly-traded major defense contractor—obtained multi-million dollar jury verdict for claims including theft of intellectual property.
  • Individual victim of severe personal injury—secured jury verdict in excess of $20 million.

News & Views

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Recognitions

  • Litigation: General Commercial Law, listed in Chambers USA
  • AV Preeminent®, listed in Martindale-Hubbell®
  • 2006–2019, Commercial Litigation in Philadelphia, listed in Best Lawyers in America©
  • 2004, 2006–2018, “Pennsylvania Super Lawyer” in Business Litigation, listed in Super Lawyers©

Credentials

Admissions

  • Pennsylvania
  • New Jersey
  • Supreme Court of the United States
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
  • U.S. District Court - Eastern District of Pennsylvania
  • U.S. District Court - New Jersey
  • Supreme Court of New Jersey
  • Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
  • U.S. District Court - Middle District of Pennsylvania
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

Education

  • Temple University, BA, magna cum laude Phi Beta Kappa
  • Temple University Beasley School of Law, JD