Neal Walters

Partner

waltersn@ballardspahr.com
Tel 856.761.3438
Fax 856.761.1020
New Jersey

Neal Walters is the Practice Leader of Ballard Spahr's Product Liability and Mass Tort Group, and a member of the firm's Manufacturing and Retail Industry Groups. Mr. Walters has a diverse trial and litigation practice focused on protecting product companies, as well as clients involved in technical matters, against a broad range of risks. As counsel for several consumer product manufacturers, he has defended and coordinated product liability and consumer claims, including class actions, through trial in jurisdictions across the country. He also counsels companies on contractual, regulatory, and liability issues arising in the development, sale, and servicing of products.

Automotive Matters

Mr. Walters has broad experience counseling automotive companies on regulatory, product development, and service issues, as well as defending these companies in product liability litigation. He has defended allegations of widespread defects in automotive class actions, many of which carried eight- and nine-figure exposure. Mr. Walters is one of the few lawyers to have successfully tried two automotive class actions through jury verdicts—resulting in a unique perspective on defending expert and class certification issues. He has been successful in accelerating the dismissal or resolution of these complex cases through motions to dismiss, creative settlements and, more recently, through the use of voluntary market actions.

Mr. Walters regularly addresses risk management and regulatory issues arising from the development and field support of motor vehicles. Working with top experts, he has an intimate understanding of parts supply and Production Part Approval Processes (PPAP), as well as FEMA methodologies. Mr. Walters also has experience working with Wheelchair Tie-Down and Occupant Restraints (WTOR) systems and other unique mobility issues affecting disabled passengers. He reviews service and sales literature to develop terms and conditions for sales and to validate advertising and other product materials for litigation sensitivity.

In addition, Mr. Walters has been engaged in substantial projects to analyze an automotive company's corporate structure to minimize litigation risk; develop processes for early warning decisions; and to train employees on litigation sensitivity and claims processing. Working with the firm's Privacy and Data Security Group, he has provided gap analyses to bring automotive companies into compliance with evolving cybersecurity and data privacy ISO standards. Mr. Walters is also a frequent presenter on automotive issues and trends, including the development of autonomous vehicles.

Industrial Matters

Mr. Walters has extensive experience defending industrial companies against catastrophic injury cases arising from toxic torts, fires, and explosions—including Benzyne exposure, nitrus oxide exposure, entrapment claims, building and furnace explosions, and industrial machine accidents. He has developed a deep knowledge of the interplay of immunity issues arising from worker's compensation, OSHA impacts, and managing multiple interdisciplinary experts. He advises companies on compliance with ANSI warnings standards and the development of warning labels for applications including steel making, industrial machines, and agriculture. Mr. Walters also develops and negotiates the contractual terms and conditions necessary to protect the product in sales and service, including indemnification, insurance and UCC logistical issues with title, bailment, and warranties.

Commercial and Energy Product Matters

Mr. Walters addresses legal issues arising in the development of commercial and energy products. This has included a particular emphasis on the development and analysis of the FEMA of smart meters, for which he has substantial experience with applicable UL and ANSI standards. In this role, Mr. Walters has overseen the validation of smart meter technologies and analyzed the contractual warranty and litigation issues arising from smart grid performance issues. He has also analyzed the warnings and operational procedures associated with lithium powered home energy sources, as well as solar panels.

Mr. Walters has also successfully defended class actions brought under the New Jersey Truth in Consumer Contract and Warranty Notice Act (TCCWNA), a challenging law often implicating the sales disclosures made by product companies in website and other advertising materials.

Representative Matters

  • Defending a manufacturer of vehicle component parts and coordinating multiple product liability actions around the country alleging vehicle defects and personal injury
  • Successfully defended a motor vehicle manufacturer in MDL proceedings to defeat consumer fraud and warranty claims arising from the sale and marketing of OnStar telecommunications services
  • Defended a product manufacturer in a four-week jury trial of a class action alleging product defects and consumer fraud in connection with the sale and servicing of 8,000 motor vehicles; the plaintiff's damages were limited to less than one-tenth of the damages sought; achieved post-trial decertification of the class and engaged in claims process and fee petition proceedings raising due process and appellate issues
  • Counseling a product manufacturer on the development, manufacture, marketing, and product support of a new line of specialty vehicles
  • Secured a defense verdict as lead counsel in a four-week jury trial in California state court, defeating consumer fraud and false advertising claims filed on behalf of the public seeking rescission and injunctive relief, including corrective advertising for an entire product line
  • Defending a global manufacturer of refractory brick against claims by a steel furnace operator arising from a large-scale molten steel breakout accident
  • Secured dismissal of product liability claims against a manufacturer of high-pressure nitrogen cylinders brought by a worker sustaining catastrophic injuries from cylinder rupture; the matter involved the coordination of multiple liability experts
  • Successfully prosecuted an action on behalf of a welding company to recover a substantial receivable owing on a contract for the fabrication and sale of large-scale steel cylinders used to manufacture silicon chips
  • Secured a nuisance value settlement on behalf of a flexible gas connector manufacturer against product liability claims brought by victims sustaining substantial burn injuries from a gas explosion that leveled an apartment building
  • Prevailed on motion to dismiss complex breach of contract action seeking compensatory damages and injunctive relief for the return of a liquor license associated with the closure of Garden State Race Track
  • Negotiated a class settlement on behalf of New Jersey's largest title company involving alleged RESPA violations
  • Counseled a product manufacturer to develop e-discovery compliance procedures
  • Defeated a competitor's bid protest before the GAO and GSBCA on behalf of a telecommunications company awarded a multimillion-dollar contract
  • Achieved summary judgment or nuisance value settlements on behalf of employers faced with unique challenges to New Jersey's workers' compensation immunity statute; included extensive analyses of the special employer, borrowed servant, and intentional wrong doctrines
  • Prevailed on creative motion for summary judgment at the outset of the case to strike national class allegations filed on behalf of 250,000 product owners prior to the court's holding a class certification hearing in the Superior Court of New Jersey
  • Successfully defended a conversion van company against rollover and roof crush allegations of a quadriplegic arising out of a multivehicle accident in North Carolina; achieved nuisance value settlement; plaintiff proceeded to trial against the van chassis manufacturer in New Jersey and secured an $8 million verdict
  • Obtained a dismissal of unfair trade practice claims in statewide class action against a vehicle manufacturer in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
  • Secured summary judgment on behalf of an automobile manufacturer to dismiss defective restraint system claims in the Superior Court of New Jersey

Pro Bono Experience

Mr. Walters served as a part of a team that successfully pursued litigation, regulatory, and legislative action on behalf of an Indian tribe to secure Historic Preservation protection for a 10,000-year-old archaeological site in Northern New Jersey.

Professional Activities

Rutgers School of Law-Camden, former Adjunct Professor, Pretrial Advocacy and Electronic Discovery

Defense Research Institute

Recognition & Accomplishments

Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business, litigation: products liability (New Jersey ranking, 2012-2017; national ranking, 2009-2013)

The Legal 500 US, product liability and mass tort defense – automotive/transport, 2015-2017

Recipient, New Jersey Law Journal "40 Under 40" award, 2007

Recipient, 2003 Conservation Award, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, for his team's pro bono efforts in successfully pursuing an injunction to preserve a site of archaeological significance on behalf of the Lenni-Lenape Indians

Publications

Co-author, "FTC Submits Comment To Aid NTIA In Developing Internet of Things Guidance," Ballard Spahr alert, June 21, 2017

Co-author, "Daimler Here to Stay: SCOTUS Overturns California Court’s Exercise of Jurisdiction Over Out-of-State Plaintiffs," Ballard Spahr alert, June 20, 2017

Co-author, "Autonomous Cars One Step Closer to Reality in Colorado," Ballard Spahr alert, June 19, 2017

Co-author, "DOT Issues Proposed Cybersecurity Guidance to Automotive Industry," Ballard Spahr alert, October 27, 2016

Co-author, "NHTSA Issues Guidance for Manufacturers of Highly Automated Vehicles," Ballard Spahr alert, September 21, 2016

Co-author, "Colorado Supreme Court Limits Jurisdiction Over Manufacturers," Ballard Spahr alert, September 20, 2016

Co-author, "Shedding Light on Shady Grove: Rule 23 Trumps State Law," Law360, July 21, 2015

Co-author, "Process, Discipline and Patience: The Keys to Effective Mediation," New Jersey Law Journal, April 2, 2015

Co-author, "NJ Data Encryption Law: Will It Become National Standard?" New Jersey Law Journal, March 24, 2015

Co-author, "The Continuing Scrutiny of Automotive Class Actions," The Legal Intelligencer, June 17, 2014

Co-author, "Federal Court Rejects Controversial Attempt To Expand Class Action Liability," Ballard Spahr alert, April 21, 2014

Co-author, "Third Circuit Requires Affidavit of Merit in Products Liability Case Against Residential Homebuilder," Ballard Spahr alert, December 18, 2013

Co-author, "Third Circuit Vacates Class Certification, Reaffirms Plaintiff's Burden To Prove Readily Ascertainable Class," Ballard Spahr alert, August 7, 2013

Co-author, "Federal Court Precludes Defendant’s Class Certification Expert," Ballard Spahr alert, March 6, 2013

Co-author, "Cy Pres Permitted in Class Action Settlements, but Makes Approval More Difficult, Third Circuit Holds," Ballard Spahr alert, February 21, 2013

Co-author, "No Expert Needed for Breach of Express Warranty Claim—Burden Shifts to Defense," Ballard Spahr alert, July 27, 2012

Co-author, "Prevailing Trends in Automotive Class Action Litigation," The Legal Intelligencer, June 5, 2012

Co-author, "New Jersey Federal Court Denies Class Certification in Long-Running Ford MDL," Ballard Spahr alert, February 9, 2012

Co-author, "A Red Light for Federal Class Certification in California," Law360, February 2, 2012

Co-author, "New Jersey Supreme Court Confirms but Clarifies Availability of Contingency Enhancements under New Jersey Fee-Shifting Statutes," Ballard Spahr alert, January 30, 2012

Co-author, "Putting The Brakes On Class Certification Under Dukes," Law360, January 20, 2012

Co-author, "Ninth Circuit Reins in Certification of Consumer Product Class Actions," Ballard Spahr alert, January 17, 2012

"MDL Court Applies Dukes to Consumer Product Sales Transactions and Rejects Class Certification," Ballard Spahr alert, December 22, 2011

Co-author, "United States Supreme Court to Tackle Stream of Commerce Theory for Personal Jurisdiction," New Jersey State Bar Association's Product Liability and Toxic Tort Law Section newsletter, Volume 12, No. 2, January 2011

Co-author, "Plaintiffs Pick Your Poison: Curtailing CFA Claims Premised on Traditional Product Liability Risks," New Jersey State Bar Association's Product Liability and Toxic Tort Law Section newsletter, Volume 12, No. 2, January 2011; and DRI's The Voice, Volume 9 Issue 44, November 3, 2010

Co-author, "Supreme Court To Tackle 'Stream-of-Commerce' Theory of Personal Jurisdiction," Ballard Spahr alert, September 29, 2010

Co-author, "N.J. Federal Court Continues Trend of Consumer Fraud Dismissals in Product Liability Cases," Ballard Spahr alert, July 14, 2010

Co-author, "Recent Court Decisions Reinforce Importance of Issuing a Written Litigation Hold Notice," Ballard Spahr alert, March 8, 2010

Co-author, "N.J. Court Expands Personal Jurisdiction over Defendants in Product Liability Litigation," Ballard Spahr alert, February 4, 2010

Co-author, "Sorry, Party's Over: Defeating the Class After Certification," DRI's The Voice, December 9, 2009

"Defending the Consumer Fraud Case Through Trial," Pennsylvania Bar Quarterly, January 2007

"Consumers Have Changed, So Why Not The Law? Defending Claims Under The New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act," New Jersey Law Journal, December 2005

Editor and author, "The Complete Preemption Doctrine and Federal Question Removal" chapter from "Getting Out of Dodge, Effective Methods of Achieving Removal," Product Liability Advisory Council, 2003

Speaking Engagements

"Keeping Up with the Jetsons: Autonomous Vehicles and Real Estate Development," Ballard Spahr CLE, Washington, D.C., November 2017

"Warnings Challenges in An Evolving Semi-Autonomous Driving Environment," Autonomous Vehicle Safety Regulation World Congress, Novi, Michigan, October 2017

"Driving Change: A Survey of Prevailing Issues with Autonomous Driving Systems," ISACA Philadelphia Chapter, Horsham, Pennsylvania, September 2017

"Automated Driving: Current Issues, Liabilities & Opportunities," ACI Automotive Product Liability Conference, Chicago, June 2017

"Game of Drones, Autonomous Vehicles, and Other Connected Devices," Delaware State Bar Association, Wilmington, April 12, 2017 

Presenter, "Baby, You Won't Drive My Car: Intellectual Property Opportunities and Regulatory Issues Surrounding Autonomous Vehicles," A Ballard Spahr PATENTSCAPE® webinar, January 18, 2017 

"Recent Developments in Class Action Litigation Including Arbitration Clauses on Class Action Waivers and Using MDL as a Strategic Measure to Defeat Class Action Litigation," Automotive Product Liability Litigation Conference, Chicago, June 3, 2015

"Challenges to Claims Under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act," New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education, April 2015

"The Battleground of Automotive Class Action Litigation," ACI's Defending and Managing Automotive Product Liability Litigation, Chicago, June 4-5, 2014

Panelist, "Preserving the Attorney-Client Privilege and Work Product Protection in Class Action Litigation," Strafford Publications webinar, April 17, 2014

"Issues Arising in the Trial of a Class Action," DRI Class Action Seminar, Washington, D.C., July 2013

"The Current Battleground of Automotive Class Action Litigation," ACI Automotive Product Liability Seminar, Chicago, June 2013

"Managing Experts in Product Class Actions," Strafford Publishers webinar, February 2013

Moderator, "Navigating New Roads: Prevailing Trends in Consumer Product Litigation," Ballard Spahr webinar, May 2012

Panelist, "Prevailing Trends in Consumer Product Liability: Allegations of Fraud," Strafford Publications, Inc., webinar, February 21, 2012

Panelist, "Advancing Technologies and Evolving Risks: What's Next for Product Liability," Ballard Spahr CLE, October 6, 2011 

"Class Dismissed: Best Practices for Defeating Consumer Product Class Actions," DRI Product Liability Conference, New Orleans, April 2011

Panelist, "Electronic Discovery – Taking Stock and Moving Forward," Ballard Spahr CLE, December 17, 2009

"Insights from the Trenches: Determining Early On What Your Client's True Pressure Points Are While Outlining a Defensive Strategy That is Both Cost- and Reputation-Conscious," American Conference Institute, Phoenix, September 23, 2009

"Challenging Experts in Class Action Litigation," a pre-Peroxide discussion of strategies for effectively mitigating class experts impact upon certification issues, DRI Commercial Litigation Annual Meeting, New Orleans, November 2008

Moderator and speaker, "Practical Tips for Litigating Cases Under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act," New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education, December 2007

Community Activities

Mr. Walters was a collegiate baseball player and is an athletics enthusiast. He is an avid golfer and is actively involved in coaching a variety of youth sports for the Marlton (New Jersey) Recreation Council.


Rutgers University, The State University of New Jersey School of Law-Newark (J.D. 1993)

Rutgers College (B.A. 1990)

New Jersey

Pennsylvania

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit