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Mortimer H. Hartwell
Mortimer H. Hartwell
Partner — Commercial & Business Litigation
Partner — Commercial & Business Litigation

Mortimer H. Hartwell

Mortimer H. Hartwell
San Francisco

555 Mission Street
Suite 2000
San Francisco, CA 94105

Mortimer H. Hartwell

Mort’s practice focuses on a wide variety of matters, including the management of litigation and trials of complex products liability, toxic tort, catastrophic incident, environmental, and class action cases. Mort represents a variety of clients, including manufacturers, importers, private equity groups, technology companies, and individuals (typically shareholders and officers of corporations). He has also represented a variety of Asian clients in breach of contract cases, American and European antitrust investigations, and shareholder disputes.

Mort has extensive experience with litigation involving the California Corporations Code and its provisions for removal of officers and directors. He has served as national counsel for a variety of products liability clients, including those in asbestos, medical devices, automotive parts, food products, and wearable technology. He also frequently counsels clients on product recall and warning issues.

Experience Highlights

  • First chair trial attorney in complex breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract case involving a Chinese textile manufacturer and former business partner, resulting in a verdict of $40 million (net) on behalf of the client; this was one of the largest in the state of California in 2013, and ranked in the top ten plaintiffs verdicts by impact for 2013 by The San Francisco Daily Journal 

  • Management and litigation of catastrophic injury and contamination cases involving toxic exposures, workplace accidents, and occupational exposures to chemicals 

  • (Wash.) — Extensive development of punitive damages defenses and defense themes for clients in mass tort and repeat injury cases, including led the defense group in restricting a defendant’s duty to warn of the hazards of component parts of their products in a case in the Supreme Court of Washington

  • Representation of technology companies in products claims, including those involved in wearable technology product liability and class action claims; routinely counsels consumer products technology companies on risk avoidance issues 

  • Counsel for a defendant in a CERCLA cost recovery action involving alleged contamination to drinking water by perchlorate; summary adjudication granted on major causes of action, including dismissal of punitive damages leading to nominal settlement of case 

  • Served as lead trial lawyer with significant jury trial experience in product liability asbestos litigation for manufacturing clients; handled trials of several large groups of plaintiffs with punitive damages exposure; assisted in the development of punitive damages defense and coordination of thousands of cases in the western United States 

  • (W.D. Was.) — National counsel for a beverage manufacturer in mass food contamination cases, based on exposure to the E. coli bacteria; developed all percipient and expert witnesses for defense of cases, and coordinated the litigation of hundreds of cases brought primarily in the western United States; handled product recall and investigation by U.S. FDA and defeated class certification in U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington; assisted in successfully crafting a punitive damages defense, which led to the ultimate resolution of all liabilities

  • National counsel for a manufacturer of medical devices in many high-profile wrongful death/personal injury actions; developed defense strategy, drafted key dispositive motions, and coordinated all discovery; majority of cases dismissed summarily 

  • National counsel for motorcycle parts manufacturer in various jurisdictions throughout the United States; handled two product recalls and coordinated litigation of all products liability cases for the company; successfully resolved major cases through mediation 

  • (N.D. Cal.) — Represented a defendant in a CERCLA cost recovery action in the Northern District of California; punitive damages and various claims dismissed on summary judgment leading to nominal settlement

  • Represented a produce company in the first CERCLA proceeding involving private land in the state of Hawaii 

  • Represented a major semiconductor manufacturer in property damage and groundwater contamination litigation 

  • Extensive advice counseling and litigation relating to California’s Proposition 65, which mandates warnings of the dangers of toxic exposure by manufacturers of consumer products and landowners 

  • Represented a former CEO of California’s largest agricultural cooperative in a shareholder breach of fiduciary duty and fraud class action; shareholder class was decertified, resulting in minimal settlement of claims

  • Defeated a class action against a beverage manufacturer for alleged false advertising relating to juice products nutritional value 

  • Represented an officer and directors of a medical device technology startup company in proceedings related to attempts to remove them from the company’s board; monetary damages claims dismissed on demurrer without leave to amend leading to settlement

  • Represented a tomato sauce manufacturer in litigation and arbitration relating to a grower’s failure to deliver commodities as contracted 

  • (N.D. Cal.) – Motion to dismiss granted in its entirety to a nationwide class action complaint against a producer of wearable fitness trackers; the complaint alleged that the technology did not maintain a battery charge or perform health monitoring tasks as promoted in its advertising and packaging 

  • Represented a beverage manufacturer in one of the largest E. coli outbreaks in United States 

  • Represented a landfill in class action relating to alleged exposures from vapors and dusts from landfill; class certification denied 

  • Represented a major manufacturer in silica-related exposure cases nationally 

  • Represented transportation companies in toxic exposure cases resulting from derailment of tank cars 

Credentials

  • University of California, Davis School of Law, J.D., 1991
  • University of Southern California, B.S.,1987
  • BTI’s Litigation Outlook 2014, named a Class Actions and Mass Torts “Powerhouse,” 2014
  • Member: Bar Association of San Francisco
  • California
  • “Class Actions, Parallel Conduct Cases and General Trends,” V&E Client Presentation, June 4, 2016 (co-presenter)
  • New Frontier: Wearable Technology and Product Liability, June 2014 (co-author with Morgan, Lewis & Bockius)
  • “Vapor Intrusion: What You Need to Know About the Legal, Scientific, and Regulatory Issues,” June 2010 (webinar)