650 Poydras Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
Paul M. Lavelle is a partner in the New Orleans office of Cotten, Schmidt, & Abbott L.L.P. He has extensive trial experience in the areas of products liability, admiralty/maritime, construction, environmental law, insurance and general civil litigation.
- Obtained a jury verdict dismissing plaintiff’s case in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana in a trial involving a products liability claim against the manufacturer of oil field drilling equipment. The case involved catastrophic injuries. The successful defense was based upon the argument that the use of the equipment at the time of the accident was not a reasonably anticipated use as defined in the Louisiana Product Liability Act.
- Successfully represented a construction company in an arbitration under the AAA Construction Rules, defeating the owner’s construction defect claims and recovering the remaining amounts due under the construction contract.
- Represented a manufacturer at trial involving claims under both Admiralty Law and Louisiana’s Law of Redhibition in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. The plaintiff asserted claims of Redhibitory defect involving three marine diesel engines. The trial resulted in a jury verdict significantly below plaintiff’s lowest settlement demand.
- In connection with the investigation of a catastrophic accident and working with in house product safety managers, was able was able to avoid our client being sued by conclusively showing a plaintiff’s attorney that our client could not be responsible for the accident because of an alteration to the product made when a third party service company improperly replaced a key safety component.
- Represented the manufacturer of a valve involved in a chemical plant chemical release in a trial involving 20 Bellwether plaintiffs in a Mass Tort action in state court in St. Tammany Parish resulting in 10 dismissals and 10 awards of varying amounts. The results of the trial ultimately led to the settlement of the approximately 400 individual plaintiffs’ claims.
- Represented the owner of a chemical plant involved in a chemical release in a trial involving 20 Bellwether plaintiffs in a Class Action in state court in St. Charles Parish resulting in a range of awards and several dismissals which served as the basis for settlement for the entire class.
- Represented the manufacturer of equipment installed during the renovation of a municipal airport in a contract dispute with the general contractor in a jury trial in Louisiana State court resulting in an award for the contractor of less than 20% of claimed damages. On appeal, we successfully had that award reversed and judgment rendered for our client, on our claim against the contractor, in a significantly higher amount.
- Represented a company that leased property in conjunction with its operations servicing oilfield equipment against a premise owner’s claim of property damage for naturally occurring radioactive material.
- Defended an oilfield property damage remediation case involving indemnity and insurance issues as well as issues related to the authority given to the state under Louisiana Act 312.
- Obtained a dismissal of a client from a case in district court in St. John Parish on behalf of a quality control inspection company involved in a pipeline construction project. The lawsuit involved a class action by residents of neighborhoods in proximity to a natural gas pipeline, asserting claims arising out of construction accidents which resulted in dispersal of natural gas.
- Represented a company in the investigation of a fire at a diesel storage tank farm that resulted in a determination that our client’s equipment was not involved in the cause of the fire thereby preventing the filing of a lawsuit against our client.
- Defended multiple plaintiff personal injury claim allegedly caused by exposure to a chemical leaking from a tanker truck. The case was tried in state court in Washington Parish; Louisiana The jury returned a defense verdict in just 45 minutes of deliberation after a five week trial.
- Defended class action alleging exposure to a chemical dispersed into a neighborhood as fugitive dust during reclamation of the chemical substance from a former industrial site. The case was tried in Civil District Court in New Orleans.
- Defeated a consumer class action asserted in Federal Court in Missouri against a national consumer service company. The plaintiff alleged a nationwide class definition for two contractual claims and a state wide class under the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (MMPA). The MMPA claim was dismissed on summary judgment prior to the class certification hearing. The two contractual claims, for which national class certification was sought, were defeated by showing that plaintiff failed to meet the perquisites of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23.
- Obtained an injunction in a copyright infringement and Lanham Act false advertising case involving proprietary programming software. The case was tried in US District Court in the Southern District of New York.
- Obtained a preliminary injunction in a similar copyright infringement case involving proprietary programming software. The case was tried in U.S. District Court in the Middle District of Florida, Fort Myers Division.
- Defended the Board of Trustees of a church in a case involving claims for injunctive relief, breach of fiduciary and defamation in connection with a suit by its former Pastor who was dismissed by the Board. The case was tried in Civil District Court in New Orleans amid local media attention.
- Obtained the dismissal of a business owner in a premises liability case arising out of a shooting that occurred in the business’ parking lot by a security guard. The case was tried in Civil District Court in New Orleans.
- Obtained a defense verdict for a vessel owner in Jones Act personal injury case in US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
- Defeated a brain injury claim arising out of a low speed impact motor vehicle accident after a three week jury trial involving a great deal of expert biomechanical and medical testimony in district court in Jefferson Parish.
- State Bar of Louisiana
- Defense Research Institute, Chair Emeritus, Law Institute; Past Officer; Past Board of Directors; Product
- Liability Committee; Past Chair, Technology Committee; Past Chair, Electronic Discovery Task Force
- Federal Bar Association
- Louisiana Association of Defense Counsel
- Louisiana State Bar Association
- Jefferson Bar Association, Board of Directors; Past President
- DRI International – Speaker, Program Chair or Law Institute Chair for International Dispute Resolution Conferences in Barcelona 2004 & 2011. London 2007, Prague 2013 Amsterdam 2014.
Awards & Recognition
- Rated AV Preeminent by Martindale Hubbell
- Bernard J. Cailouet Award for Law Related Education
- Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels
- Volunteer of the Year Award 2005 Jefferson Bar
- American Jurisprudence Award in both Constitutional Law and Corporations
- Listed in Who’s Who Legal – Product Liability Defence 2014 and 2015, an international listing of product liability lawyers published by Law Business Research Ltd. London UK
- Louisiana Super Lawyers, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015
- 2013 Terex Corporation Outstanding Product Liability Counsel Award
Admitted to Practice
- Louisiana, 1981
- All Louisiana State and Federal Courts
- U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Fifth and Ninth Circuits