Daniel W. Nelson is the co-partner in charge of the Washington, D.C. office, and he is a member of the Firm's Executive and Management Committees. He practices in the Litigation Department as co-chair of the Environmental Litigation and Mass Tort Practice Group and is a member of the Class Action and Complex Litigation, Antitrust and Trade Regulation, and Appellate and Constitutional Law Practice Groups.
Mr. Nelson has a national complex litigation practice. He has served as the lead defense counsel for clients in the courts of more than 30 states, and he has defended more than 100 class action lawsuits. He has represented clients at the trial and appellate levels in cases that span a wide range of areas, with a particular focus on environmental and mass tort litigation, complex business litigation, antitrust litigation, and class action litigation.
Mr. Nelson's litigation expertise and client service are widely recognized. In 2015, the National Law Journal recognized Mr. Nelson as a "trailblazer" in its first edition of Energy & Environmental Trailblazers for his innovative and effective strategies for resolving environmental mass tort litigation. Based on surveys of corporate counsel, BTI Consulting Group has twice named Mr. Nelson as a BTI Client Service All-Star. BTI recognized Mr. Nelson for his "true thought leadership; innovation; creativity applied to the client; focused, practical problem-solving; valued counsel; responsiveness and accessibility; total commitment to the client."
Representative environmental litigation experience:
- Successfully excluded all of plaintiffs' chemical fate & transport and medical causation experts in a 370-plaintiff toxic tort mass action lawsuit in federal court in Louisiana, which has effectively ended the litigation.
- Led successful efforts to exclude plaintiffs' medical causation expert testimony and to narrow chemical fate & transport expert testimony in a Texas state court civil penalty action seeking over $1 billion in penalties relating to alleged releases from a historic disposal site.
- Secured a defense trial judgment for a national construction company in a Florida state court toxic tort case alleging personal injuries from airborne chemical exposure.
- Following several favorable rulings, obtained a voluntary dismissal of a 200+ plaintiff mass action lawsuit in South Carolina federal court alleging that air emissions from a manufacturing facility caused personal injuries and property damages.
- Obtained summary judgment in a toxic tort class action in federal court in St. Croix after mounting a successful Daubert challenge to plaintiffs' experts.
- Obtained a highly favorable resolution of a toxic tort mass action in federal court in Nebraska alleging that a manufacturer's historic waste disposal practices contaminated the groundwater and caused personal injuries and property damages following several favorable rulings.
- Defeated class certification in a 1500+ member putative class action alleging that ongoing air emissions from an Alabama pulp and paper mill caused various personal injuries and property damages.
- Lead defense counsel in two toxic tort mass action lawsuits in Texas state court alleging that releases from two historic disposal sites along the San Jacinto River contaminated the river and groundwater and caused personal injuries and property damage.
- Lead defense counsel in a series of ongoing toxic tort mass action cases pending in federal and state courts in Alabama and Louisiana alleging that air emissions from a pulp & paper company's mills have caused personal injuries and property damages.
Representative commercial litigation experience:
- Obtained a $93.6 million award in favor of clients in a breach of contract arbitration.
- Defended a national REIT in a breach of contract arbitration that resulted in an award of only $1 in nominal damages for several multi-million dollar breach claims.
Representative class action and insurance litigation experience:
- Achieved dismissal of all claims against various insurance companies in more than a dozen putative class actions arising out of Hurricane Katrina. Several of these cases involved successful appeals to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, including Hibbets v. Lexington Insurance Co., 2010 WL 1778953 (5th Cir. 2010 May 4, 2010); In re Katrina Canal Breaches Lit., 295 F.3d 191 (5th Cir. 2007); Chauvin v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., 495 F.3d 232 (5th Cir. 2007). In addition to these class action victories, Mr. Nelson also secured the Fifth Circuit's reversal of a $20 million judgment for business interruption losses and bad faith penalties in Conco v. Lexington Insurance Co., 2010 WL 3223137 (5th Cir. Aug. 17, 2010).
- Lead defense counsel in federal and state court class actions in Connecticut and Maryland against a large national managed care company. Each of the cases was successfully resolved on favorable terms.
Representative antitrust litigation experience:
- Achieved dismissal of all claims against a major paper and forestry products manufacturer in more than a dozen federal and state price-fixing class actions.
- Obtained dismissal of all claims against a large pharmaceutical manufacturer charged with participating in an unlawful conspiracy and attempt to monopolize the "secondary market" for drug distribution.
Mr. Nelson earned his law degree, with honors, in 1993 from the University of Michigan Law School. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree magna cum laude from Colgate University in 1990. He is a member of the bar associations of the District of Columbia and New York State, and he is admitted to practice before numerous federal district and appellate courts.