Deborah Smith

Partner

  • location icon San Francisco, CA
    333 Bush Street
    Suite 1100
    San Francisco, CA 94104

Deborah Smith is a partner in the San Francisco office of Lewis Brisbois and is a member of the Asbestos Litigation and Toxic Tort & Environmental Litigation Practices. Deborah has more than 20 years of experience successfully defending clients in mediation, arbitration and trial. Deborah has handled hundreds of cases from beginning to end and has first chaired a number of cases through jury selection, opening statement and to a defense verdict. Her primary focus areas are complex product liability, personal injury defense, labor and employment, maritime and business litigation. Deborah defends companies against claims for injuries from exposures to tobacco smoke, asbestos, silica, benzene and other environmental or chemical exposures. She also represents major manufacturing companies, contractors, suppliers, oil companies, premises owners, and businesses in maritime, aviation, aerospace, hospitality, and international shipping industries.

Deborah creates, manages, and executes all aspects of key defense strategies and prepares clients and experts for depositions and trial testimony. She has taken hundreds of plaintiff and expert depositions and has obtained favorable rulings on complex and innovative dispositive motions. Deborah has managed active dockets of cases for clients and appeared in court in California and numerous other jurisdictions across the U.S. Deborah’s keen skills are often called upon to negotiate case resolution with national plaintiff law firms.

Before joining Lewis Brisbois, Deborah served as national and local counsel in complex product liability, toxic tort and other litigation matters in high-profile, high-stakes litigation. Following law school, she clerked for the Honorable Ortrie D. Smith of the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri. After working for more than five years at a large national law firm in Kansas City, she relocated to San Francisco, where she lives with her wife and three children. 

Related News & Publications

Publications

  • ABA Passes Three Resolutions Important to Diversity," ABA/TIPS Diversity Committee Newsletter, Spring 2016
  • $2.8 Million Mesothelioma Verdict Reversed in Part Due to Dr. Barry Castleman’s Prejudicial Trial Testimony," client communication, August 2014
  • California Imposes New Limits on Depositions," American Bar Association, Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section, Toxic Tort & Environmental Law Newsletter, Spring 2013
  • ABA YLD Midyear Assembly Meeting," The Affiliate, Vol. 33, No. 4, March/April 2008
  • Preparing for the ABA YLD Midyear Meeting Assembly," The Affiliate, Vol. 33, No. 3, January/February 2008
  • Why You Want to Attend the YLD 'Assembly' at the Midyear Meeting in Los Angeles," The Affiliate, Vol. 33, No. 2, November/December 2007

Professional Presentations

  • "Asbestos and Talc Litigation Update: What's New in the Longest Running Mass Toxic Tort in the History of the United States," American Bar Association, 27th Annual Spring CLE Meeting, Phoenix, Arizona, April 2018
  • "30 Tips in 30 Minutes: New Partners," American Bar Association, Young Lawyers Division, March 2015
  • "Hot Topics in Asbestos Litigation," American Bar Association, Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section, Toxic Tort & Environmental Law Committee, April 2013

Admissions

  • State Bar Admissions
    • California
    • Missouri
  • United States District Courts
    • United States District Court for the Central District of California
    • United States District Court for the Eastern District of California
    • United States District Court for the Northern District of California
    • United States District Court for the Southern District of California
    • United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri

Admissions

California

Missouri

United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri

United States District Courts for the Eastern, Central, Northern and Southern Districts of California

Associations

  • California Bar Association
  • Missouri Bar Association
  • American Bar Association
    • Young Lawyers Division, 1998-2008
      • Elected Officer, Assembly Speaker and Clerk, 2006-2008
    • Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section (TIPS), 2008-present
      • Elected Council Member, 2017-present
      • Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Vice Chair, 2014-present
      • ABA Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, Appointed Liaison, 2014- present
      • Toxic Tort & Environmental Law Committee, 2008-present
        • Committee Chair, 2015-2016
        • Program Chair, 2013-2014

Awards & Honors

  • American Bar Foundation, Fellow
  • Northern California Super Lawyers Rising Stars®, 2010-2012
  • International Association of Defense Counsel Trial Academy, 2008
  • American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, "Star of the Quarter", 2005
  • National Institute for Trial Advocacy Pacific Regional Trial Skills Program, October 2003
  • Judge James A. Moore Award for Public Service, 1999
  • Association of Trial Lawyers of America, National Trial Competition Regional Semi-Finalist, 1997

Education

University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law

Juris Doctor with distinction, 1997

  • Order of the Bench and Robe Honor Society
  • Law Review, Managing Editor
  • ATLA National Trial Team
  • Jessup International Law Moot Court Team
  • Order of Barristers

William Jewell College

Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and International Relations, 1994

  • Cross-Examination Debate Association National Competition
  • All-American Debate Team

Representative Matters

  • Represented a Fortune 500 international shipping company in a personal injury matter with a plaintiff seeking millions of dollars in damages; case successfully resolved prior to trial for 2% of the initial demand, 2018
  • Represented a major U.S. Airline in a personal injury matter and secured a dismissal on the eve of trial in Alameda Superior Court, 2018
  • Successfully resolved a mesothelioma matter for a premises owner on eve of trial and while Motion for Summary Judgment was pending in Los Angeles Superior Court, 2017
  • Represented a naval architect in federal court in a high-profile maritime accident involving the deaths of two U.S. Navy helicopter pilots; case successfully resolved early in the litigation, 2017
  • Secured a dismissal after removal and filing Motion to Dismiss in United States District Court, Northern Division for a naval architect in a wrongful death mesothelioma matter, 2017
  • Represented aerospace manufacturer in a wrongful death personal injury in San Francisco Superior Court; case resolved on the eve of trial after argument on pre-trial motions, 2017
  • Served as first-chair trial counsel representing a homeowner’s association in a breach of contract trial in Orange County Superior Court, California; case favorably resolved after jury selection at opening statement, 2016
  • Represented publicly traded company in negligent infliction of emotional distress claim in Yuba County Superior Court; the case resolved favorably at mediation, 2016
  • Served as first-chair trial counsel representing a brake grinding machine manufacturer in a wrongful death mesothelioma matter in Alameda Superior Court, California; case settled after jury selection at opening statement, 2015
  • Served as first-chair trial counsel representing a gasket manufacturer in a lung cancer case in San Francisco County Superior Court, California; case settled after extensive pre-trial motion briefing, 2015
  • Represented a pipe supplier in a six-week trial in a personal injury matter in Alameda Superior Court, California; served as first-chair trial counsel and secured a defense verdict, 2014
  • Represented luxury high-rise homeowner association in a breach of contract matter at three-day binding arbitration in San Francisco, California; case resolved after several witnesses, including plaintiff, were cross-examined, 2014
  • Secured favorable result for hotel client in employment discrimination case with multiple plaintiffs after mediation of sexual harassment claim in San Francisco, California, 2013
  • Persuaded the court overseeing asbestos multidistrict litigation to extend the “sophisticated user” product liability defense to aircraft brake and engine manufacturers in wrongful death mesothelioma matter in Pennsylvania, 2013
  • Successfully resolved employment discrimination case for publicly traded company at mediation in San Francisco, California
  • Assisted charter school in defense of wrongful termination and employment discrimination claim
  • Successfully defended racial and religious discrimination cases for publicly traded company at mediation
  • Successfully defended restaurant client for discrimination and wrongful termination claims prior to mediation
  • Successfully prevailed on Motion for Summary Judgment after a multimillion-dollar demand and settlement offer was refused in Los Angeles Superior Court, California
  • Represented aircraft engine manufacturer in a wrongful death personal injury matter in Los Angeles Superior Court, California. Served as first-chair trial counsel and secured favorable resolution at opening statement
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