Howarth & Smith: Place of Possibilities

(Heritage Media Corporation)

Founding Partners Don Howarth and Suzelle Smith.

Founding Partners Don Howarth and Suzelle Smith.

Since its founding in 1985, Howarth & Smith has gained a national reputation for its extraordinary success in a variety of high profile trials and appeals. This boutique law firm, which represents plaintiffs and defendants, is the only firm in the country ever to have been selected by the National Law Journal for both "Top 10" plaintiff's and defense verdicts in a single year.

Howarth & Smith represented the plaintiff in a 1996 fraud and breach-of-contract action against General Dynamics, winning $107.4 million judgment – the largest verdict in California that year. The firm also was responsible for one of the year's most notable defense verdicts in a product liability action defending Suzuki Motor Corp. Opposing the same counsel who had obtained a $90 million verdict against Suzuki in a prior suit, Howarth & Smith's bold trial strategy led to a defense verdict after the jury deliberated for three hours. Howarth & Smith represented 14 "bellwether" plaintiffs (out of a total group of 58), residents of Lincoln Park, Colorado in a contamination case against Cotter uranium mill. In the federal court trial in Denver, a unanimous jury found in favor of all plaintiffs and awarded punitive damages against Cotter. Additionally, the jury awarded lifetime medical monitoring to all plaintiffs, an unprecedented result in a contamination case. Judgment has been entered for $2.9 million, and the remaining cases are pending.

Howarth & Smith, Annual Black Tie Dinner, Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, England May 9, 1998 Partners (Left to Right) David K. Ringwood, Brian D. Bubb, Suzelle M. Smith and Don Howarth

Howarth & Smith, Annual Black Tie Dinner, Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, England May 9, 1998
Partners (Left to Right) David K. Ringwood, Brian D. Bubb, Suzelle M. Smith and Don Howarth

Howarth & Smith specializes in complex civil actions, including business and commercial matters, antitrust cases, class actions, toxic torts and catastrophic personal injury cases. The firm's practice is focused on high-stakes trials and appeals, including "bet the company" cases. Howarth & Smith is selective in its client representation, undertaking matters involving intellectual challenges, serious social concerns and the opportunity to address groundbreaking legal issues.

The firm typically refers routine litigation to other capable attorneys and firms, many of which it has worked with over the years.

Howarth & Smith encourages close relationships with attorneys and law firms throughout the country, and many of its clients, which include individuals, corporations and nonprofit organizations, are referred by other lawyers. The firm also serves as designated trial Counsel in significant cases, where the pretrial preparation is handled by other firms in co-counsel capacity. A brief list of some prominent cases demonstrates Howarth & Smith's remarkable achievements:

The firm represented the late Doris Duke and played a leading role in the battle over the billion-dollar estate of the tobacco heiress, resulting in the removal of the opposing trustees, preliminary executor and a major banking institution and the appointment of the firm's client as a trustee of the Estate.

Howarth & Smith represents the wife and son of the original "Marlboro Man" in their suit against Philip Morris and is heavily involved in the landmark class action cases against the tobacco industry.

Howarth & Smith Partners, Oxford University, Trinity Term Law Lectures, 1998

Howarth & Smith Partners, Oxford University, Trinity Term Law Lectures, 1998

Another high profile case involved an antitrust challenge to the National Football League by the firm's clients - about 20 top professional NFL football players.

The firm has handled a number of consumer class actions, including a price fixing class action on behalf of all purchasers of eggs in Southern California. The firm is lead trial counsel for the Government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands in its action against the tobacco industry to recover healthcare costs incurred because of tobacco use in the islands. The firm represented a manufacturer in connection with its suit against the company that was to implement its Enterprise Resource Planning System..

The firm filed suit against a Pasadena shopping mall, successfully arguing that the mall's deficient security allowed two criminals to rape and murder the wife of its client. The jury returned a $3.6 million verdict in favor of the husband and against the mall.

In a product liability case, the firm won a $7 million jury verdict for a man left paralyzed in connection with the use of a Sears extension ladder sold without adequate safety warnings.

In a breach of oral contract to transfer an equity interest to a corporate executive, Howarth & Smith obtained a $9 million jury verdict for the corporate executive.

The firm has represented 12 California cities and municipalities in an action against other municipalities for recovery of $30 million lost in a fraudulent investment scheme.

On the defense side, the firm has represented many corporations in multimillion dollar suits, including anti-trust cases against vitamin, catfish, cement and glass container manufacturers, NBA and NFL stars, high net worth individuals, the Vatican Library (as custodian of Vatican artwork) and several prominent law firms.

Howarth & Smith's unique legal accomplishments stem from its partners' recognized ability to combine strategic thinking, high quality legal analysis and persuasive courtroom presence. What further distinguishes these lawyers is their ability to distill complex legal issues, technicalities and jargon into understandable and compelling arguments, enabling juries to grasp relevant issues and understand the client's position. Howarth & Smith's flair for crisp, concise communication– coupled with its analytical skills and mastery of trial strategy - are a potent combination that makes the firm a powerful force in the nation's courtrooms.

(Left to right) Kenneth Tune (of counsel) and partners, Don Howarth, Suzelle Smith, Brian D. Bubb and David K. Ringwood

(Left to right) Kenneth Tune (of counsel) and partners, Don Howarth, Suzelle Smith, Brian D. Bubb and David K. Ringwood

Howarth & Smith is led by five partners, Don Howarth, Suzelle Smith, David Ringwood, Brian Bubb and Robert Brain. The partners are supported by associates, of counsel attorneys and a group of experienced paralegal assistants.

Mr. Howarth specializes in trials and appellate arguments. He holds three degrees from Harvard University, including a B.A. from Harvard College, a Master's from the Kennedy School of Government and a JD from the Harvard Law School. He is an elected Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, and the American Bar Foundation. He is a Visiting Fellow at Oxford University (England), and a Visiting Scholar at Cambridge University (England). He is a frequently invited speaker at high-level conferences throughout the U.S. and abroad.

Ms. Smith, recognized by The National Law Journal as one the nation's 10 best litigators in 1996, graduated summa cum laude from Boston University and obtained a Master's degree in Philosophy from Oxford University in England. She earned her Law degree from the University of Virginia, where she was Order of the Coif. She is now a member of the University of Virginia School of Law Board of Trustee, a member of the Pepperdine Law School Board of Visitors, a Visiting Fellow Oxford University (England), a Visiting Scholar at Cambridge University (England) and an elected Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers and American Bar Foundation.

Howarth & Smith has demonstrated that creative attorneys with the right approach and the right set of skills can provide what is necessary to succeed in today's legal arena: individualized trial and appellate advocacy so difficult to find in large firms with generic programs.