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Dykema deepens its national automotive litigation practice

Dykema, a leading national law firm, today announced the additions of John M. Thomas and Terri S. Reiskin as members in the firm’s Litigation Department, where Thomas will be located in the firm’s Ann Arbor, Michigan office, and Reiskin will be located in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office.

The addition of John M. Thomas and Terri S. Reiskin, already proven to be accomplished automotive class action and appellate lawyers, is intended to bolster Dykema’s top ranked national automotive capabilities, and represents another important expansion of the firm’s appellate, class action, and product liability practice; which follows the additions this year of highly regarded litigator and appellate counsel Christopher Kratovil in Dallas and nationally accomplished trial lawyer Fred Fresard in Bloomfield Hills.

They will join an existing team of top litigators that also handle work on behalf of the automotive industry, including Peter Kellett in Detroit, James Feeney in Bloomfield Hills and Derek Whitefield in Los Angeles, who came back to the firm in 2003 after practicing together at the highly regarded automotive boutique of Feeney Kellett Wienner & Bush.

Combining all of these attorney’s practices at Dykema will strategically elevate and increase the visibility of Dykema’s appellate and class action practices and propel Dykema to a unique unparalleled position as the preeminent firm for these key areas of practice.

For the record, John Thomas joins Dykema from Bryan Cave LLP where he served as counsel in the Class and Derivative Actions practice. John was responsible for a significant portion of Ford and Volvo’s pre-appellate, appellate, and class action work nationally. Earlier in his career, he worked in the Office of the General Counsel for Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) for 27 years where he controlled Ford’s appellate, class action and other complex litigation, and supervised some of the most significant automotive class action trials of recent years.

Thomas received a J.D., magna cum laude, Order of the Coif from the University of Pittsburgh Law School and a B.A., with distinction, from the University of Michigan

Terri Reiskin joins Dykema from Wallace King Domike & Reiskin PLLC where she was a member of the firm. She was a partner at Hogan & Hartson LLP (now Hogan Lovells) for many years prior to that. Reiskin’s practice focuses on products liability litigation, class action defense, appeals, and other complex litigation, with an emphasis on automotive and related industries.

Her products liability experience has involved a variety of products, including automobiles, trucks, pharmaceuticals, food products and medical devices, including breast implants, bone screws, latex gloves and pacemakers. She has served as national and regional counsel, and as first-chair trial and appellate counsel.

“John and Terri are among the most well-known and highly regarded automotive appellate and class action lawyers in North America,” said Rex E. Schlaybaugh, Jr., Dykema’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “They have earned a professional reputation as go-to counsel for high-risk, high-profile appellate and class action work on behalf of automotive manufacturers, and they will be instrumental as we continue to expand and diversify our appellate and class action capabilities in the automotive sector.”

More About Dykema

Dykema grew up alongside the automotive industry, and its litigators represent OEMs and suppliers, including domestic, Asian and European manufacturers in commercial disputes, class actions, appeals and product liability matters in the highest profile cases.

Dykema’s lawyers have roles as lead trial, national, regional, specialty, and discovery counsel for a number of the largest OEMs, and it is one of the few firms in the U.S. that has successfully tried a number of automotive product liability class action cases for OEMs in recent years.

The attorneys who make up Dykema’s automotive defense team are known for tackling bet-the-company product liability lawsuits and taking them to verdict in some of the toughest jurisdictions in the country, including a $40 million jury verdict for Chrysler, and jury verdicts for Ford and Kia in class action cases.

Dykema lawyers and other professionals in 11 U.S. offices work in close partnership with clients – from start-ups to Fortune 100 companies – to deliver outstanding results, unparalleled service and exceptional value in every engagement. To learn more, visit .

Torque News Assessment

I first became directly acquainted with Dykema through Lisa Seidenberg, account supervisor for Greentarget out of Chicago, where I was invited to attend the Detroit 2.011 Autobeat Insiders Conference last month. Dykema was a presenter and part of the panel of experts.

However, I was already well acquainted with the need for corporate legal representation from my direct days with Saturn and General Motors (NYSE: GM), as well as many automotive suppliers. Fact is, I attended many training and information sessions where corporate attorneys told us that it was not if we were going to be sued, but when; and that very message was especially told to me before Saturn ever created a production vehicle.

Of course, the public has every right to bring about legal actions against an automaker if and when it feels necessary. Witness the numerous claims against Toyota Motors (ADR: TM). However, not all claims present the facts correctly. That is why the courts exist.

Regardless of the findings, though, legal suits cost the automakers high sums of money every year that could go into product development. That is precisely why automakers also have, not only their right, but the fiduciary responsibility to their stock holders to defend against any and all charges.

The message I gleaned from the Dykema news release is this: Bringing more experience into a law firm is always a wise move, as the stakes are simply too high, especially for automotive companies that manufacture highly technical and complex products that must perform under conditions most products never face.

About the Reporter: After 39 years in the auto industry as a design engineer, Frank Sherosky now trades stocks, futures and writes articles, books and ebooks like, "Perfecting Corporate Character," "Awaken Your Speculator Mind", and "Millennial World Order" via He may be contacted here by email: [email protected]
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