Susan Smith concentrates her practice on defending and taking to trial complex litigation matters. She has successfully represented hospitality, retail, and housing industry clients and others facing claims alleging serious bodily injury due to Legionnaires' disease, chemical burns and chemical inhalation, carbon monoxide poisoning, lead paint poisoning, and exposure to mold, formaldehyde and other substances such as petrochemicals and flavor and fragrance compounds. She also has substantial experience defending individuals and corporate entities in lawsuits arising from automobile accidents, slip and fall accidents, defective product claims, and other general liability matters.
Ms. Smith has developed a particular interest in, and knowledge of, the state of the art research into traumatic brain injury including concussion and post-concussive syndrome, due to her experience defending clients in lawsuits alleging brain injury from physical impact (e.g., motor vehicle accidents) and from toxic exposures (e.g., carbon monoxide, lead poisoning). Ms. Smith closely monitors the emerging research on traumatic brain injury and attends an annual national conference on traumatic brain injury sponsored by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
As a complement to her litigation practice, Ms. Smith counsels her clients on post-accident/pre-claim incident response, leveraging her litigation experience to help clients minimize their legal exposure in the event of an accident. Ms. Smith also has significant experience advising clients on insurance coverage matters. She recently completed a Maryland Claims Survival Guide that addresses substantive and procedural issues of concern to claims professionals, including: (1) Court Structure; (2) Pleadings Requirements; (2) Service of Process, Removal and Transfer; (3) Statutes of Limitations; (4) Causes of Action That Survive Death; (5) Contributory Negligence; (6) Caps on Non-Economic Damages; (7) Claims Handling Requirements under the Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act; (8) and UM/UIM Claims Procedures. For a copy of the Maryland Claims Survival Guide, please contact Susan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Obtained summary judgment on behalf of a building owner in a case filed in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia by a plaintiff claiming millions of dollars in personal injury damages as a result of contracting Legionnaires’ disease. This summary judgment centered on the successful exclusion of the plaintiff’s expert witness, who had been proffered to establish the building owner’s premises as the source of the plaintiff’s infection.
- Recently achieved a defense verdict following an 11-day jury trial and over two years of litigation in Lawley v. Northam, a case involving complex real estate disclosure issues and complicated scientific and medical issues related to environmental contamination, risk assessment, and causation assessment. Plaintiffs sought to recover more than $3M in damages including environmental remediation costs, medical expenses and other economic damages, as well as non-economic damages for emotional distress, loss of consortium, punitive damages, and attorneys' fees and costs. Ms. Smith and the trial team obtained a complete defense verdict, protecting their clients from significant personal financial risk and clearing all allegations.
- Asked to testify before the Judicial Proceedings Committee of the Maryland General Assembly regarding proposed lead paint legislation. (2012)
- Obtained favorable resolution of multiple wrongful death and personal injury claims against property management client arising from an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in senior housing project. (2011)
- Identified and developed Frye-Reed and Rule 5-702 challenge to opponent's experts, resulting in highly favorable settlement in products liability case alleging personal injury from mold and formaldehyde exposure in recreational vehicle. (2011)
- Won dismissal of claims against commercial food establishment sued in a 23-plaintiff carbon monoxide case alleging permanent brain damage. Trial against remaining defendants resulted in $34,333,000 verdict. (2010)
- Successfully defended major national bank in "bystander exposure" asbestos case. (2009)
- Obtained favorable verdict for insurance company client in declaratory judgment action in case involving the "resident relative" exclusion. (2008)
- Obtained favorable verdict for insulation contractor in an asbestos case involving a living plaintiff with mesothelioma and lung cancer. (2008)
- Successfully defended distributor of industrial safety supplies in a 25-plaintiff case alleging exposure to silica and asbestos. (2007)
University of California, Santa Cruz, B.A. with College Honors, 1993
Lewis & Clark College, Northwestern School of Law, J.D., 1997
Court of Appeals of Maryland, 1997
U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, 2000
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, 2002
Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, 2005
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 2006
SPEECHES AND PUBLICATIONS
- "Maryland Case Update: Lead Paint Poisoning and Circumstantial Evidence," Claims Management, Issue 7, Vol. 2 (July 2013).
- "Legionnaires’ Disease and Premises Liability,” Claims Management, Issue 6, Vol. 2 (June 2013).
- Maryland Claims Survival Guide, prepared for claims professionals (2013).
- Co-author, "When Man's Best Friend Bites," Claims Management, cover story, Issue 11, Vol. 1 (November 2012).
- Co-author, "A Survey of International, National and Industry Guidelines for the Prevention of Legionellosis," prepared for the Emerging and Environmental Claims Managers Association (EECMA) 2012 Conference and Meeting in Captiva Island, FL (May 2012).
- Co-author, "New ASHRAE Standard Dictates Legionnaires' Disease Prevention," Indoor Environment Connections (April 2012).
- "Legionnaires' Disease: Emerging Litigation Trends," Perrin Conferences, Webinar (March 6, 2013).
- "Legionnaires' Disease: Emerging Trends," WCD Group, New York, NY (February 21, 2013).
- "Perspectives on Using Strict Liability to Reduce Dog Bites in Maryland," Maryland State Bar Association, Inc. Annual Fall Dinner, Sheraton Columbia Town Center, Columbia, MD (September 27, 2012).
- "Legionella Roundtable," Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) Baltimore Chapter Education Program, Baltimore, MD (June 14, 2012).
PROFESSIONAL AND CIVIC INVOLVEMENT
Invited to serve as Maryland Defense Counsel, Inc.'s representative on the Maryland General Assembly's summer study work group on proposed lead paint legislation (2012)
Claims & Litigation Management Alliance, Maryland Chapter Secretary (2013) and Maryland State Co-Chair (2012)
Maryland Multi-Housing Association, Member of Legislative Affairs Committee (2012)
Project Clean Stream (annual stream and shoreline clean up coordinated by the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay and Blue Water Baltimore), Site Captain (ongoing since 2006)
Maryland Defense Counsel, Inc., Board Member and Co-Chair of Negligence and Insurance Committee (2008)
Maryland Defense Counsel, Inc., Co-Founder and Co-Chair of task force on first-party bad faith legislation (2007)
Chesapeake Sustainable Business Alliance, Board Member (2007-2009)
Village Learning Place, Board Member (2006, 2007) (secured major donation enabling capital improvements to educational institution's building)