Ryan Nilsen


  • location icon San Diego, CA
    701 B Street
    Suite 1900
    San Diego, CA 92101

Ryan Nilsen is a partner in the San Diego office of Lewis Brisbois and a member of the Products Liability Practice. He is a trial lawyer with more than 17 years of experience defending manufacturers of products. Whether it’s an ATV crash in California, medical-device dispute in Minnesota, or warehouse fire in Maryland, Ryan is the lawyer for all time zones. He prioritizes client service and partnership, takes pride in understanding his client’s goals, and recognizes the increasing strain on legal budgets and the importance of predictability in costs, advocating for creative fee arrangements. With complex litigation experience in 43 states—and Canada—Ryan has expertise in consumer product, medical device, and off-road vehicle industries, and is licensed in California, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The following provides a snapshot of his experience:

  • National counsel for global leader of cash logistics and security services.
  • Coordinated fire claims investigation and resolution nationwide for off-road vehicle manufacturer.
  • Defended zero-turn-mower manufacturer in catastrophic roll-over case in Wisconsin.
  • Negotiated settlement for water treatment manufacturer in $85 million spoiled-carrots case in California.
  • Defended nationwide putative class action involving 13 million passenger vehicles.
  • Successfully argued appeal to Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of off-road vehicle manufacturer.
  • Resolved significant injury cases for off-road vehicle manufacturers, involving traumatic burn injuries, amputations, and death.
  • Defense verdict as first-chair trial attorney for water treatment manufacturer in trade secrets and unfair competition case in Minnesota.
  • Led investigation and developed legal response for building products manufacturer into alleged defects in fire-safing panels used in high-rise construction throughout United States.
  • Represented insulation manufacturer in $4.5 million claim arising out of alleged defects at cryogenic plant in New York.
  • Achieved voluntary dismissal in chemical-inhalation exposure, double-lung transplant case in Texas.


  • Chapter One: Peer Review and Publication, DRI’s Daubert Compendium (2010 ed.).
  • "Defending Lead-Containing Toy Lawsuits,” award-winning article in Defense Research Institute’s For The Defense journal (2009), which received Burton Award for Legal Writing Achievement.
  • “The Legal Risks of Nanotechnologies,” published in DRI’s For The Defense (Nov. 2008). 
  • “The Work Product Doctrine: Protecting Corporate Counsel,” published in Evidentiary Privileges for Corporate Counsel (Sept. 2008).

Pro Bono & Philanthropy

Leadership Team for Magdalena Ecke YMCA's Adventure Princess Program (2015-2017)

Professional Presentations

  • “Best Practices for International Recalls and Resulting Litigation,” presentation at DRI Product Liability Conference, New Orleans (February 2016)
  • “Circumstantial Evidence of Defect,” presentation at ABA’s Litigation Conference in Chicago (November 2015)
  • “Toxic Torts: Moderator for Panel of In-House Counsel,” DRI Product Liability Seminar in Las Vegas (February 2012)
  • “The Potential Pitfalls of Social Media for Corporations,” DRI Product Liability Seminar, Las Vegas (February 2012)
  • “Causation Issues in Toxic Tort Cases,” DRI Product Liability Seminar in New Orleans (2011)
  • “Discovery and the Dying Plaintiff,” DRI’s Product Liability Seminar in Las Vegas (2010)
  • “Expert Preparation for Deposition and Trial Testimony,” keynote speaker at SEAK’s Expert Witness Conference in Cape Cod (2009)
  • “Tips and Tactics for Successful Depositions,” keynote speaker at DRI’s Web-Conference Series (2008)
  • “Death by Daubert: Arranging the Jazz Funeral for Junk Scientists,” DRI’s Product Liability Seminar in New Orleans (2007) 
  • “How to Get Your Expert Testimony Admitted into Evidence: How to Refute Opposing Expert Testimony,” speaker at MN Corporate Counsel CLE (2007)





U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin

U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin

U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota

U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit


  • Defense Research Institute leadership roles, including Product Liability Committee Marketing Chair (2014)
  • Product Liability Committee Liaison to Industry (2015)
  • Chair of Chemical and Toxic Tort SLG (2010-2012)
  • Product Liability Steering Committee (2008-2015)
  • Young Lawyers Steering Committee (2005-2008)

Awards & Honors

  • Super Lawyer” recognition in Minnesota from Thomson Reuters (2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016) 
  • “Up & Coming Attorney” recognition from Minnesota Lawyer Journal (2008)
  • “Rising Star” recognition in legal profession from Thomson Reuters (2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009)
  • Burton Award for Legal Writing Achievement (2010) for “Defending Lead-Containing Toy Lawsuits,” in Defense Research Institute’s For The Defense journal (2009)


University of Minnesota Law School

Juris Doctor, cum laude, 2000

University of Minnesota College of Liberal Arts

Bachelor of Arts, cum laude, 1997

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