DuPont

Thomas L. Sager“I can truly say this firm is the real deal. It is principled, hard working, true to its commitments and successful in its efforts for the company. DuPont has trusted and partnered with the attorneys of Cotten Schmidt & Abbott, L.L.P. for close to three decades. I have no hesitation to recommend Cotten Schmidt and Abbott for any of your legal needs.”

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Thomas L. Sager is senior vice president and general counsel, DuPont Legal. He started his career with DuPont in August 1976 as an attorney in the labor and securities group.

Mr. Sager helped pioneer the DuPont Convergence and Law Firm Partnering Program and continues to have oversight responsibility. Through his leadership, this program has become a benchmark in the industry and has received national acclaim for its innovative approach to the business of practicing law. He was named associate general counsel in 1994. In January 1998 he was named chief litigation counsel where his responsibilities included oversight of all litigation and IS support for the entire function. He was named vice president and assistant general counsel in November 1999, and to his current position in July 2008.

“There are times in the course of a company’s existence when it is faced with major challenges and attacks often in the legal arena. During my time with the DuPont Company, we have faced those challenges and repelled those attacks. It is within this context that I share with you my experience with the attorneys of the law firm of Cotten Schmidt & Abbott.

Originally its lawyers participated in DuPont’s rigorous convergence evaluation process. Before 1992, DuPont had more than 350 law firms and scores of service providers and consultants. From that process the Cotten Schmidt firm in Texas and the Abbott Simses firm in Louisiana were selected to serve as two of DuPont’s 34 Primary Law Firms (PLFs). In 2009 those lawyers joined together in one firm Cotten Schmidt & Abbott, L.L.P. to serve DuPont’s needs in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and wherever the firm’s talents could assist DuPont’s needs.”

Since those early years the lawyers of the now Cotten Schmidt and Abbott have demonstrated their commitment to:

  • Competence, excellence and getting results.
  • Mutual financial success.
  • Technology and work process reengineering.
  • The recruitment and advancement of women and minorities.
  • Taking risks and advancing creativity.
  • A willingness to be innovative and progressive.

The firm’s noteworthy achievements for DuPont include:

  • In handling one of our mass agricultural products liability cases, the firm advanced a pre-trial challenge to the plaintiffs’ expert asserting the lack of a scientific basis for his opinions. It was the first of its kind in Texas state courts. The motion was granted devastating the plaintiffs’ case. It ultimately resulted in the landmark Texas decision on the admissibility of expert witnesses. (E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co., Inc. v. Robinson, 923 S.W. 2d 549 64 USLW 2047, Prod.Liab.Rep (CCH) P 14,294, 38 Tex.Sup.Ct.J. 852) (Rex., Jun15, 1995)(NO.94 0843).
  • In another mass agricultural products case, following a 3 month trial, the firm’s investigation revealed jury tampering by our opposition which led to the overturning of an adverse verdict.
  • In a mass products liability set of cases involving Temporomandibular Joint (“TMJ”) Implant Litigation, with the firm serving as regional and trial counsel in Kansas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Texas, DuPont won every case that was decided to a final judgment by the courts. FIFTY-SIX (56) courts in a row ruled in favor of DuPont and every appellate court ruling was also in favor of DuPont.
  • Defending state-wide litigation in numerous states involving asbestos claims, in which the firm successfully obtained defense jury verdicts in death cases. One of the verdicts included a total plaintiffs take nothing verdict where DuPont’s opposition asked the jury for $1 Billion Dollars.
  • Defending silica exposure claims in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, in which the firm succeeded in obtaining dismissals of nearly the entire docket of cases (over 20,000 plaintiffs) without ever paying a dime.

  • Defending DuPont in a global warming case, involving allegations that DuPont and 100’s of other companies, contributed to global warming, which allegedly resulted in the increased intensity of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated homes and businesses on the Gulf Coast. On motions at the trial court, and ultimately affirmed by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, the case was dismissed.
  • Pursuing a claim on behalf of DuPont for breach of contract in Mississippi, the firm was able to successfully recover on behalf of the Company.
  • Pursuing a claim on behalf of DuPont in Mississippi for damages caused by a contractor at one of DuPont’s facility. Within two days of receiving the assignment, Cotten Schmidt & Abbott, L.L.P. successfully recovered on behalf of the company.
  • In an asbestos case with over 4,000 plaintiffs, DuPont obtained a dismissal following the successful mandamus to the Texas Supreme Court concerning its forum non conveniens motion.

As a result of the fine work for the company, DuPont has recognized Cotten Schmidt & Abbott, L.L.P. with the following awards:

Challenge Awards: These are monetary awards that recognize Primary Law Firms (PLFs) and Service Providers for extraordinary contributions and accomplishments that have advanced the objectives of the DuPont Legal Model. Over the years, PLFs and Service Providers have received Challenge Awards for a variety of accomplishments, including:

  • Diligently and successfully pursuing DuPont’s legal rights as a plaintiff;
  • Collaborating with other PLFs and Service Providers to serve DuPont’s interests;
  • Volunteering time and resources to develop and maintain core programs of the Legal Model, such as Early Case Assessment and the advancement of minority attorneys;
  • Referring non-DuPont matters to other PLFs and Service Providers; and
  • Incorporating technology into the practice of law.

Prior to their joining in 2009, the Cotten Schmidt and Abbott Simses law firms have been the Recipients of Challenge Awards in 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004, and 2005.

Leaders’ Circle Awards: The DuPont Legal Leaders’ Circle Award is presented at the DuPont PLF/PSP Annual Meeting to recognize leadership in embracing and promoting the ideals of the DuPont Legal Model. Recipients of this prestigious award are chosen by previous years’ award winners and a committee of DuPont staff. Criteria for selection include:

  • Excellence in the delivery of legal services and results for DuPont;
  • Selfless dedication to serving the needs of the DuPont Company;
  • Ongoing support of the DuPont Legal Model;
  • Valuing diverse legal teams and promoting the growth and development of individual members;
  • Collaboration with other members of the DuPont PLF and Service Provider Network; and
  • Active commitment to growing DuPont’s business.

CSA is a primary law firm for DuPont. Learn more: http://www.dupontlegalmodel.com/

Larry Abbott received the Leaders’ Circle Award in 2005.
Larry Cotten received the Leaders’ Circle Award in 2006.