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Mitchell W. Taraschi

Chair, Product Liability and Tort Law

Overview

As chair of Connell Foley’s Product Liability and Tort Law Practice Group, Mitchell Taraschi delivers successful outcomes related to product liability, construction litigation and complex commercial litigation across a diverse array of industries. He serves as a zealous advocate in matters before state and federal courts. Mitchell’s clients range from small businesses to global and Fortune 500 firms, including manufacturing companies, private and public works contractors and owners, cosmetics companies and pharmaceutical corporations.

Mitchell brings business acumen and creative solutions to bear for clients facing complex disputes. His substantial product liability experience encompasses mass tort and children’s products litigation. In construction litigation cases, he advises on contract disputes, defective construction, delay damages, acceleration claims, back charges and public bid disputes.

A thought leader in product liability law, Mitchell is a member of the Defense Research Institute (DRI) and Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA), and is the New Jersey representative for the JPMA-DRI Joint State Liaison Program, where he serves as a resource for both organizations on developments affecting children’s products liability across the state. Since 2011, he has authored the New Jersey portion of the DRI Children’s Product SLG 50 state compendium.

Experience

Representative Experience 

Product Liability

  • Representation of a global marketer of children’s products in a products liability action involving a child’s permanent physical and cognitive injuries allegedly sustained from the defective design and manufacture of a baby carrier.  Obtained dismissal at the close of discovery.
  • Representation of a global marketer of consumer and commercial products in numerous products liability actions, including those involving: an allergic reaction and respiratory disorder allegedly caused by an air freshener; lacerated tendons in hand allegedly caused by the defective design and manufacture of a shed; and injury leading to blindness of child allegedly caused by the defective design and manufacture of a pen.
  • Representation of global marketer of consumer products where plaintiff claims a respiratory injury allegedly caused by exposure to spray tan.
  • Representation of international pharmaceutical companies in mass tort products liability actions involving over-the-counter drugs.
  • Representation of a global marketer of consumer and commercial products where plaintiff was allegedly injured as a result of exposure to asbestos.  Obtained dismissal without having to file an answer.
  • Representation of numerous owners and contractors relating to defective products used in construction.

 Construction Litigation

  • Representation of numerous public entities and contractors involving public bidding, including challenges to bid specifications, awards at the state and local level and New Jersey’s pay-to-play laws.
  • Representation of a regional developer in a dispute with its construction manager for the construction of a $40 million 7-story residential building in Hoboken, New Jersey.
  • Representation of a national developer in a multi-million dollar construction case including claims by a homeowners’ association for a major residential development relating to alleged deficient design and/or defective construction of various buildings, roadways, and irrigation systems. Mitchell also defends claims that the developer made misrepresentations in community public offering statements. Mitchell successfully obtained a dismissal of many of the homeowner claims pursuant to New Jersey’s statute of repose.
  • Representation of a national construction management firm in a multi-million dollar construction case against the New Jersey Schools Development Authority (NJSDA), relating to the design and construction of various schools. Mitchell was the architect of the defense of this matter where the construction manager was terminated from more than 20 school projects. The case was successfully settled and the termination set aside as a result of the legal strategy that Mitchell employed.
  • Representation of a residential development against a contractor relating to the deficient installation of approximately 4,000 windows. Mitchell successfully obtained an arbitration award against the contractor.
  • Representation of public owner relating to the enforceability of a multi-million dollar settlement agreement as well as the termination of its construction manager overseeing the expansion and renovation of seven schools within the Nutley School District.
  • Represented a subcontractor who had a contract in excess of $70,000,000 to build a significant portion of the $500 million Tosco Bayway Refinery Polypropylene Plant Project. The subcontractor had filed a construction lien stating that the contract amount, initially, had been $15,110,000 and that amendments to the contract had come to $56,612,700.86, resulting in a total of $71,722,700.86. Mitchell litigated the validity and amount of the lien filed by the subcontractor.

Commercial Litigation

  • Successfully obtained injunctive relief against employee in this multi-million dollar action for breach of her duties of loyalty and restrictive covenant. Representation against shareholder and competitor for violating various agreements and fiduciary duties.
  • Representation of a manufacturer in complex commercial litigation including such issues as wrongful termination of exclusive distributorship agreement, trademark infringement, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duties, tortious interference, defamation/trade libel, and violations of the Lanham Act. This matter was settled on the eve of trial after barring much of the opposing party’s expert report and all of the opposing party’s claims were dismissed.
  • Representation of an international bank in a variety of cases totaling millions of dollars including claims of fraud, embezzlement and forged checks. Issues litigated under the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) provisions include whether a three-year statute of limitations applies to certain cross-claims for indemnity and contribution.  This was an issue of first impression not only in New Jersey, but also an issue of first impression in the United States.

Decisions

  • Jen Electric, Inc. v. County of Essex, 197 N.J. 627 (2009) & Jen Electric, Inc. v. County of Essex, 401 N.J. Super. 203 (2008). On an issue of first impression, the New Jersey Supreme Court in a split decision reversed a unanimous Appellate Division opinion and held that a potential subcontractor, vendor, and supplier that is neither a taxpayer nor a bidder had standing to challenge a public project’s bid specifications under New Jersey’s Local Public Contracts Law (LPCL). Mr. Taraschi argued for dismissal of Complaint due to lack of standing before the trial court, the Appellate Division, and the New Jersey Supreme Court.  
  • Kvaerner Process, Inc. v. Barham-McBride Joint Venture, 368 N.J. Super. 190 (App. Div. 2004). Mr. Taraschi represented a subcontractor that filed a construction lien. The general contractor brought an action alleging that the construction lien filed by the subcontractor was defective and sought a discharge of the lien. The trial court held a trial but refused to permit the subcontractor discovery. The trial court ordered discharge of the lien claim and awarded the general contractor attorney fees. The subcontractor appealed. On appeal, in a matter of first impression, the Appellate Division held that a general contractor was permitted under the Construction Lien Law to bring an action to discharge the lien. The Appellate Division also held that the trial court committed plain error and prejudiced the subcontractor by limiting subcontractor's discovery to evidence of whether there was a contractual basis for the amount of the lien and not extending discovery to all evidence of the validity of the contract. Mr. Taraschi tried the case and also assisted with the appeal.
  • Component Hardware Group, Inc. v. Trine Rolled Moulding Corp., Civil Action No. 05-891 (MLC/TJB). Represented Trine Rolled Moulding Corp. in a hard-fought, complex commercial litigation in federal court including such issues as wrongful termination of exclusive distributorship agreement, trademark infringement, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duties, tortious interference, defamation/trade libel, and violations of the Lanham Act. Issues of first impression relating to evidence and damages issues were won. The federal court excluded the plaintiff’s expert reports pursuant to Daubert on the basis of Mr. Taraschi’s discovery and motion efforts. Trine settled its affirmative claims on the eve of the trial only after all of the plaintiff’s claims were dismissed.

Activities

Professional and Community Affiliations

  • American Bar Association
  • Defense Research Institute - Childrens Product Liability SLG - New Jersey
  • Juvenile Products Manufacturer’s Association’s New Jersey Liaison
  • New Jersey State Bar Association
  • USLAW Product Liability Practice Group
  • Essex County Bar Association, District VA Attorney Ethics Committee

Pro Bono 

  • In his role as Board Member and Chief Administrative Officer of Amenity LLC, Mitchell has spearheaded Amenity’s support for and partnership with charitable organizations, including the Cancer Research Institute and Career Gear. As such, he has earned the title of Charity Director within the company. His involvement includes: directing, navigating and assisting the company's management team with major company decisions; assisting with resolution of disputes with vendors, independent contractors and distributors; drafting product development agreements, international distributorship agreements, sales representative agreements and employment agreements; reviewing all documentation between charitable organizations and Amenity; assisting with charitable events and fundraising efforts; and attending events as the representative of the company. Mitchell has been involved with this role for 10 years.
  • For the IHM Annual Thanksgiving Food Drive, Mitchell assists with the organization of the collection of canned and boxed food for a series of three weeks prior to Thanksgiving, ultimately helping to feed families from six local inner city Roman Catholic Parishes located throughout Union and Somerset Counties. He assists the Chairperson with announcement of event, collection of food, packing of food and delivery to parishes and families. Mitchell has been involved with this charity for over 10 years.
  • For the IHM Annual Giving Tree Drive, Mitchell assists with the organization of the collection of gifts for a series of six weeks prior to Christmas. These efforts help supply holiday gifts, toys and clothing to children, elderly and other needy individuals at six local inner city parishes, nursing homes and mentally challenged living facilities located throughout Union and Somerset Counties. He assists the Chairperson with deciding which parishes to target, orchestrates the announcement of the event, and the collection, packing and delivery of items to needy individuals. Mitchell has been involved with this charity for over 10 years.

Presentations

  • Speaker, “The Evolving Nature Of Parent-Child (Filial) Loss Of Consortium Claims”, Children’s Product Liability SLG, Product Liability DRI, New Orleans (2016)
  • Speaker, “Shifting Liability For Design Defects Onto Component Part Manufacturers Through The Terms And Conditions Of Purchase Orders – Are Such Provisions Enforceable And Under What Circumstances?”, Children’s Product Liability SLG, Product Liability DRI, Las Vegas (2015)
  • Speaker, "Tips For A Medical Practice: Working With Partners And Managing Employees," New Jersey Study Club of Interdisciplinary Dentistry (2013)
  • Speaker, "The Need For Employee Handbooks and Policies," New Jersey Study Club of Interdisciplinary Dentistry (2013)
  • Mr. Taraschi co-presented a CLE program titled "Technology In The Courtroom" on March 16, 2011.  The Honorable Mary L. Cooper, U.S.D.J., joined him in presenting the program, along with his partner Brendan Judge.
  • Mr. Taraschi co-presented to the New Jersey Study Club of Interdisciplinary Dentistry on "Employment Liability and Preventative 'Best' Practices" on December 14, 2010. Mr. Taraschi addressed issues medical practices are facing today including: (1) how to protect your company from discrimination and harassment claims; (2) managing employee leaves and determining employee benefits while on leave; and (3) developing employee handbooks and policies.
  • Seminar at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) entitled “I’m graduating, now what???” designed to provide guidance to graduate students entering the workforce. Mr. Taraschi’s presentation focused on how to protect yourself when entering into a professional practice as an employee, partner or when buying an existing medical practice.  January 15, 2009

News & Insights

Honors

“40 Under 40,” New Jersey Law Journal (2011)

Education

University of Virginia School of Law (J.D., 1998)

Lafayette College (B.A., Government & Law, magna cum laude, with honors, 1995; member Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Alpha Theta and Pi Sigma Alpha)

Admissions

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