Joseph Tanner

Joe Tanner solves product liability issues for global and regional companies. He is experienced in complex litigation and trials, multidistrict litigation (MDL), and national defense coordination, as well as finding business solutions through alternative dispute resolution, regulatory compliance and risk avoidance strategies. Joe leads Faegre Drinker's nationally ranked product liability & mass torts group.

View the full bio for Joseph Tanner at the Faegre Drinker website.

Articles by Joseph Tanner:


The Culpable Co-Defendant Problem: How to Preserve Your Client’s Defenses After a Culpable Co-Defendant Files a Motion for Summary Judgment in California State Court

Defense attorneys involved in California multi-defendant product liability lawsuits are familiar with the challenge of properly balancing the need to preserve their clients’ defenses with the strategic importance of maintaining cooperation among co-defendants.  In many cases, co-defendants’ interests are aligned, and they find the strategic benefits of cooperation outweigh any benefits of finger-pointing amongst one another.  Indeed, co-defendant infighting is risky on several fronts—it can help the plaintiffs, increase defense costs, create animosity among possible business partners, and chill future cooperation with defendants who regularly blame their co-defendants.  Inevitably, however, cases arise that involve a culpable co-defendant and a client wants to preserve its ability to attribute fault to the co-defendant at trial.  This issue becomes complex and the specific language of California Code of Civil Procedure Section 437c(l) comes into play when the co-defendant seeks no-fault summary judgment.

Section 437c(l) operates to limit the extent to which defendants can attribute legal fault at trial to defendants who were dismissed through no-fault summary judgment.  Specifically, Section 437c(l) provides that “if a motion for summary judgment is granted on the basis that the defendant was without fault, no other defendant during trial, over plaintiff’s objection, may attempt to attribute fault to, or comment on, the absence or involvement of the defendant who was granted the motion.”  Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 437c(l).  In other words, remaining defendants cannot assert the empty chair defense to attribute legal fault to co-defendants who obtained summary judgment.

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CPSC’s Expanding Role under the Biden Administration

During the Trump administration, the number of consumer product safety recalls fell for three years in a row. When Robert Adler became Acting Chair of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in 2019, he compared his role to that of a caretaker. Now, under the Biden administration, the CPSC is undergoing a shift toward increased regulation and more aggressive enforcement. Acting Chair Adler confirmed the same earlier this year, stating that the Biden administration “clearly views product safety in different terms,” and that he “plan[s] to modify [his] job’s metaphor from caretaker to gardener.”

This shift in thinking is evident in the CPSC’s actions in recent months. Since President Biden’s inauguration, the CPSC has announced 57 product recalls in addition to a $7.95 million civil penalty settlement with Cybex International, Inc. for alleged failure to immediately report a known product safety defect related to its exercise equipment. And on April 17, the CPSC issued an urgent warning to consumers to stop using the Peloton Tread+ exercise machine around small children or pets. The CPSC noted that though its investigation of reported incidents of injury or death related to the machine was still ongoing, it had “found that the public health and safety requires this notice to warn the public quickly of the hazard.”

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“Deposition Distancing”: Practical Considerations for Defending Remote Depositions

Lawyers continue to work during the COVID-19 pandemic.  As we discussed in a previous post, for litigators this may involve participating in remote depositions as courts attempt to keep discovery moving. We also provided tips for lawyers taking remote depositions. With thanks to our Faegre Drinker colleagues who have ventured into this new world and shared a great deal of useful advice with the authors, here we discuss some of the practical considerations for lawyers defending remote depositions.

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“Deposition Distancing”: Practical Considerations for Taking Remote Depositions

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to keep many lawyers, clients and witnesses at home. As we discussed in a previous post, many courts are encouraging or requiring remote depositions, typically by videoconference, to keep discovery moving. Lawyers taking these depositions will have to do all of the things they usually do and more to deal with the challenges of a deposition environment unfamiliar to many of us.

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Deposition Distancing? As Courts Urge Litigants to Continue Discovery with Remote Depositions, Litigants Must Consider Whether, and When, to Fight Them

The COVID-19 pandemic has closed courthouses from coast to coast for all but essential proceedings. Most civil trials and hearings are on hold. Some courts are encouraging, and in some cases ordering, the continuation of discovery — including depositions using video or audio conferencing. Others have extended discovery schedules to await easing of pandemic restrictions. This post examines the different approaches courts are taking and the arguments litigants might make — or respond to — about whether to proceed with remote depositions. In a second post, we’ll discuss practical considerations for lawyers who choose to — or are ordered to — proceed with remote depositions.

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