Rodney L. Umberger
Rod Umberger is Managing Director of Williams Kastner, and a Member in the Seattle office, where he chairs the Business Litigation Practice Group and serves on the Board of Directors for the firm. He is first and foremost a trial lawyer with experience handling product liability, transportation, premises liability, toxic tort, class actions, construction and a variety of commercial litigation matters. He also has experience representing insurers as coverage and monitoring counsel on large loss claims. Mr. Umberger was recently recognized by The Best Lawyers in America for his expertise in Commercial Litigation. Additionally, Mr. Umberger was one of only sixteen attorneys in the State of Washington to be recognized by the Corporate Counsel Edition of Super Lawyers Magazine as a top civil litigation defense attorney. He has been “AV Preeminent” peer-review rated by Martindale-Hubbell since 1998.
Mr. Umberger’s product liability experience includes defending pharmaceutical companies, manufacturers of medical devices, firearms, construction products, heavy agricultural machinery, industrial equipment and consumer products. He has served as National Coordinating Counsel, Regional Trial Counsel and MDL Counsel for product manufacturers and retailers in product liability litigation, and has developed significant knowledge and experience in addressing issues that arise in multidistrict litigation. Mr. Umberger also has experience advising companies involved in NTSB investigations and coordinating responses both as outside counsel and as a party representative. He currently serves as Regional Trial Counsel for a national retailer with respect to tire failure litigation in 12 states.
Mr. Umberger’s experience in the transportation industry is extensive. For 30 years, he has represented local and national trucking companies and private fleets for Fortune 100 companies in catastrophic highway accident litigation, emergency response, regulatory matters, cargo claims and broker/shipper/carrier liability disputes in both state and federal courts. His experience includes advising companies involved in NTSB investigations and coordinating responses both as outside counsel and as a party representative. Mr. Umberger also works with numerous insurers and third-party administrators for transportation industry companies, and is frequently hired by excess carriers to take over the defense of large loss cases when trial is imminent. Mr. Umberger has experience as National Coordinating Counsel and Regional Litigation Counsel and he has served as outside general counsel for a national transportation company.
In the commercial litigation arena, Mr. Umberger’s experience is diverse and includes the following: representation of corporations in breach of contract and fraud cases; defense of class action litigation; copyright, trademark and tradename infringement litigation; representation of technology companies in litigation involving software licensing and development agreements; representation of individuals and corporations in FTC litigation; representation of owners, general contractors and subcontractors in complex construction litigation and the defense of construction defect claims; defense of TCPA class action litigation and CAN-SPAM Act litigation; representation of employers and high-level employees in lawsuits involving noncompetition agreements and trade secrets; and litigation involving Directors’ and Officers’ liability and fiduciary duty claims.
Mr. Umberger’s premises liability experience includes defending retail stores, banks, office buildings and many other businesses throughout the Northwest in assorted premises liability cases.
Mr. Umberger also has defended physicians, hospitals, clinics, dentists, pharmacists, counselors, nursing homes, medical laboratories, engineers, attorneys, and architects in professional liability lawsuits and disciplinary proceedings, and he serves as Regional Trial Counsel for a national retailer with respect to pharmacy litigation.
- USLAW Network (Chair)
- Senior Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America (Member of, Trial Law and Diversity Law Institutes)
- Product Liability Advisory Council (PLAC)
- International Association of Defense Counsel (IADC)
- Defense Research Institute (Trial Tactics and Techniques, Trucking Law and Product
- American Bar Association (Litigation Section and Product Liability Committee)
- Transportation Lawyers Association
- Washington Defense Trial Lawyers
He has also served on the Judiciary and Courts Committee for the Washington State Bar Association, and serves on the panel of arbitrators for the King County Mandatory Arbitration program. He authored a chapter in the Washington Civil Procedure Deskbook entitled “Third Party Practice.”
- University of Tennessee College of Law Alumni Advisory Council
- Kindering Center — www.kindering.org
- Board of Directors, 2001 – 2017
- Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Foundation
- Executive Industry Board, 2003 – 2005
- Harborview Medical Center Charity Golf Tournament
- Co-Chair, 2000
- Little League baseball coach and A.A.U. youth basketball coach, 2000 – 2006
- Black Sox Baseball Club
- U18 Coach and Director of Baseball Operations, 2004 – 2012
- The Overlake School
- Major Gifts Committee
Recognitions & Awards
Listed in The Best Lawyers in America for Commercial Litigation (2021-2024)
University of Tennessee
College of Law, J.D., 1987
- “5 Threats Keeping GCs of Midsize Companies up at Night,” Law360, February 14, 2014.
Presentations & Seminars
The following is a partial listing of Mr. Umberger’s lectures, seminars, and presentations:
- Crisis Management Best Practices for In-House Corporate Counsel, USLAW Network Fall Conference, Austin, TX, September 2022.
- Living Vicariously (But Hopefully Not Negligently): Best Practices for Defending Against Corporate Negligence Claims in Trucking Accident Litigation, ATA Legal Forum, 2022
- Conflict Resolution Tactics in the COVID Legal Environment and Going Forward, USLAW Network Fall Conference, Colorado Springs, CO, September 2021.
- Litigation Trends in the Post-COVID 19 World, USLAW Network Worldwide Virtual Conference, October 2020.
- My First Trial in a Mask – Lessons Learned from One of the First Post-COVID 19 Civil Trials in Washington State, USLAW Network Worldwide Virtual Conference, October 2020.
- Lessons Learned from Recent Nuclear Verdicts in the Trucking Industry, the American Trucking Association Legal Forum, San Diego, California, July 2019.
- Making the Highways Safer: Motor Carrier Leaders in Transportation, Arkansas Trucking Seminar, Bentonville, Arkansas, September 2018.
- Jury Verdict or Crowdsourcing? The Impact of Millennials on Verdicts and Damage Awards, USLAW Network Fall Conference, Montreal, Quebec, September 2018.
- The Increasing Severity Curve in Trucking Litigation – The New Normal?, USLAW Network Transportation Industry Summer Legal Forum, Half Moon Bay, CA, August 2018.
- Training the Front Line Team, USLAW Network Transportation and Logistics Exchange, Las Vegas, Nevada, February 2018.
- Strategies for Defending Against Any Exposure Causation Theories in Toxic Tort Lawsuits, USLAW Network 2017 Fall Client Conference, Carlsbad, CA, September 2017.
- The Impact of Millennial Jurors on Trucking Litigation, 2017 ATA General Counsel Forum, Beaver Creek, Colorado, July 2017.
- Proponent Beware: General Considerations and Evidentiary Pitfalls when using Surveillance Video at Trial, USLAW Network 2017 Spring Client Conference, Atlanta, GA, April 2017.
- Should We Be Taking More Cases To Trial?, Fall 2015 USLAW Network Client Conference, Boston, Massachusetts, September 2015.
- Practical Considerations For Corporate Witnesses for CR 30(b)(6) Depositions (Defending Against The Reptile Approach), Fall 2015 USLAW Network Client Conference, Boston, Massachusetts, September 2015.
- Instructor, 2015 TIPS/ABOTA National Trial Academy, American Bar Association Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section and The American Board of Trial Advocates, Reno, Nevada, March 28-April 1, 2015.
- 21st Century Trial Presentation Techniques, USLAW Network Corporate Counsel and Product Liability Exchange Conference, Dallas, Texas, February 2014.
- Defense Perspective on Corporate Designee Depositions under FRCP 30(b)(6), USLAW Network Fall Conference, Vancouver, British Columbia, October 4, 2013.
- Cutting-Edge Settlement and Defense Strategies for Complex Litigation, USLAW Network Spring Client Conference, Laguna Beach, California, April 10-14, 2012.
- Now What? Class actions after Wal-Mart, AT&T and Bayer, Fall 2011 USLAW Network Client Conference, Chicago, Illinois, September 22-24, 2011.
- Selecting Favorable Juries, ATA Litigation Center’s Forum for Motor Carrier General Counsel, La Jolla, California, July 24-27, 2011.
- Recent Developments in Class Action Litigation, Fall 2010 USLAW Network Client Conference, Colorado Springs, CO, October 9, 2010.
- New and Enduring Issues in Asbestos Litigation, HB Litigation Conference – Emerging Trends in Asbestos Litigation, Marina del Rey, California, March 4 – 5, 2010.
- Pressure Points: Today’s Challenges in Building & Maintaining Top-Notch In-House/Outside Counsel Teams, LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell Counsel to Counsel Series, Seattle, Washington, October 29, 2009.
- Closing Arguments, Litigation Counsel of America, Spring Conference, Santa Fe, New Mexico, May 2009.
- DRI Preeminent Trial Lawyer Seminar (Defense Opening Statement), Defense Research Institute, Chicago, Illinois, September 2007.
- Trucking Litigation and DOT Regulations in Washington State, Lorman Education Services, Seattle, Washington, March 2008 and March 2007.
- Pleadings Allowed, General Rules of Pleading, Pleading Special Matters, Form of Pleadings, and Third Party Practice, Amendment and Stipulation, The Essentials of Washington Civil Procedure and Ethics, Seattle, Washington, March 2004.
- Non-Traditional Approaches to Litigation Management and Trial Teams, USLAW NETWORK Annual Meeting, Napa Valley, California, March 2004.
- Handling Medical Negligence Cases in Washington, National Business Institute Seminar, Faculty Member, Seattle, Washington, November 2002.
- Courtroom Evidence Tips and Traps, Washington State Bar Association, Seattle, Washington, May 2002.
- Litigation Practice Tips, Washington State Bar Association Annual Meeting, Spokane, Washington, September 2000.
- Trying the Wrongful Death Case in Washington: Strategies in Preparation and Valuation, National Business Institute, Seattle, Washington, January 1999.
- Legal Issues Involved in Negotiating Associate Physician Employment Contracts, Lippincott-Raven Healthcare, Seattle, Washington, November 1998.
- Winning Ways with Direct and Cross-Examination: Guiding Principles for the Civil Litigator in Washington, National Business Institute, Seattle, Washington, January 1998.
- Employment Contracts: Sword and Shield-Nuts and Bolts, Labor and Employment Law Annual Update, Seattle, Washington, September 1997.
- Powerful Expert Witness Strategies in Washington, National Business Institute, Seattle, Washington, July 1997.
- Civil Litigation Practice – Handling Medical Issues, CISI, Seattle, Washington, April 1997.
- Effective Cross-Examination Techniques, Washington State Bar Association Skills Training Course, Bothell, Washington, May 1996.