Michael D. Weisman
Practice Focus and Experience
Michael Weisman has been a trial lawyer for over 30 years. He is an elected Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and the International Academy of Trial Lawyers and is on the faculty of Yale Law School. He has tried to verdict a wide variety of matters, ranging from complex product liability, medical malpractice, and civil rights cases to sophisticated trust, corporate, and commercial disputes. He has represented clients in Massachusetts, Arizona, California, Indiana, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, and Connecticut, as well as in Sweden, Switzerland, and France. During a career that has included both federal and state court clerkships, service as a member of the Steering Committee of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights, and 18 years with the law firm of Hill & Barlow, Michael has earned a national reputation as a formidable trial lawyer and an active participant in the legal community.
While a partner at Hill & Barlow, Michael served at various times as chairman of the Trial Department and the Tort Law Practice Group. He has written and lectured extensively on a number of topics, including product liability, Chapter 93A litigation, school finance law, and trial advocacy. Among his publications are model product liability and Chapter 93A jury instructions that are part of a compilation of instructions used by trial judges across Massachusetts. He is also a co-author of Massachusetts Civil Practice: Trial, published by Lawyers Cooperative Publishing.
- Served as lead counsel in a precedent-setting victory against Lorillard Tobacco Co., one of the largest cigarette manufacturers in the world, winning a $152 million verdict for a woman who died after becoming addicted to smoking because the company regularly distributed free cigarettes to her and other schoolchildren in Roxbury, Massachusetts.Read more.
- Served as lead counsel in a 15+ year suit brought in the Supreme Judicial Court on behalf of under-served Massachusetts public school children. The 1993 landmark decision, McDuffy v. Secretary, held that the commonwealth had a constitutionally enforceable duty to provide all public school students with a quality education. The victory received national recognition and was a prime force behind the passage of the Massachusetts Educational Reform Act of 1993.
- Representation of partners and shareholders in business divorce and other disputes. In one case, summary judgment was obtained and affirmed by the First Circuit on behalf of the client-shareholders in an action brought by a former shareholder who alleged that he had sold his stock for less than its fair value as a result of misrepresentations. In another case, a jury verdict was obtained for 100% of the amount sought on behalf of one of two shareholders in a closely held corporation based on the successful assertion of a claim of fiduciary duty. In another case, the firm represented a partner in a joint venture dispute arising out of the development of a large real estate parcel in Boston.
- Representation of a major magazine in cases around the country defending the client-magazine's trademark.
- Representation of insurers in coverage disputes. In one case, judgment was obtained in favor of client-insurer, ruling that there was no duty to provide coverage in connection with alleged contamination of a town's groundwater where the insured failed to provide timely notice to the client.
- Representation of engineering firms and other business entities. In one case, a jury returned a substantial verdict on behalf of client-engineering firm in an action that arose out of the development of a modern vending machine. The trial judge allowed a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, but the Appeals Court reinstated the jury's verdict in favor of the client.
- Representation of finance companies. In one case, judgment was obtained in favor of client-finance company dismissing allegations that the client had improperly arranged financing for trucks sold by plaintiffs.
- Representation of clients in adversary proceedings in bankruptcy court in a range of real estate and other business disputes. In one case, the Court issued a published opinion allowing a fee petition on account of services provided to a Debtor in defense of claimed RICO and ERISA violations, rejecting a creditor's argument that these fees were not properly chargeable to the Debtor's estate.
- Representation of clients in a wide range of product liability cases, including cases involving automobiles, sport utility vehicles, trucks, special purpose vehicles, home heaters, HIV-tainted blood, ladders, scaffolding, chainsaws, construction equipment, and exposure to chemical solvents.
- Obtained permanent injunction, after trial, under Massachusetts Civil Rights Act enjoining private university from restricting right of students to hang political signs in outside dormitory windows.
Representative Reported Cases
- Evans v. Lorillard, 2004-2840-B (Mass. Super., September 1, 2011) - Obtained judgment on 93A claim pursuant to the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act in precedent-setting wrongful death case, in which judgment in excess of $200 million (including interest) entered in favor of estate of individual smoker against tobacco company.
- Lasar v. Ford Motor Company, 239 F. Supp. 1022 (D. Mont. 2002) - Motion for mistrial allowed and defendant and its counsel sanctioned for violations of orders in limine.
- Hodas v. Sherburne, Powers & Needham, P.C., 938 F. Supp. 58 (D. Mass. 1996, affirmed 114 F.3d 1169 (1st Cir. 1997) (unpublished decision) - Defense of law firm in suit brought by former client.
- American Eagle Insurance Company v. Rutland Area Flyers,
Inc., 949 F. Supp. 243 (D.Vt. 1996) - Summary judgment for plaintiff on insurance coverage issue for injuries suffered in aviation accident.
- McDuffy v. Secretary, 415 Mass. 545 (1993) - Established that the State has a constitutional duty to provide education to all public school students.
- Gibbs v. Lappies, 828 F.Supp. 6 (D. N.H. 1993) - Limitation on right of defense counsel to withdraw.
- Hammond v. T.J. Litle & Co., 809 F.Supp. 156 (D. Mass. 1992) - Comprehensive decision on counsel’s right to withdraw.
- Fireman's Fund Insurance Co. v. Valley Manufactured, 765 F. Supp. 1121 (D. Mass. 1991) - Summary judgment for insurers' denial of coverage based on failure of insured to provide timely notice of claims arising from contamination of town's groundwater.
- In re Murray, 132 B.R. 808 (D. Mass. 1991) - Allowance of fee petition on account of services provided to Debtor in defense of claimed RICO and ERISA violations.
- International Totalizing Systems v. PepsiCo, Inc., 29 Mass. App. Ct. 424, further appellate review denied, 408 Mass. 1105 (1990) - Substantial jury verdict reinstated in dispute involving the development of modern vending machine.
- Maggio v. Gerard Freezer & Ice Co., Inc., 824 F.2d 123 (1st Cir. 1987) - Summary judgment affirmed in securities fraud case.
Distinctions: 2010 Boston University School of Law
Public Interest Project Alumni Award for Dedication to Public Service; Peer Review AV® Preeminent™ rated by Martindale-Hubbell, the highest bestowed rating; Massachusetts Super Lawyer, 2004 (chosen a Top 100 Boston Lawyer), 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012; Best Lawyers in America, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013; Massachusetts Federation of Teachers "Hero in Education Award"; Massachusetts Teachers Association "President's Award"; Massachusetts Association of School Committees "Friend of Education Award"; Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents "Distinguished Service Award."
- Admitted: Massachusetts; United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts; United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, Seventh Circuit, and Ninth Circuit; United States Tax Court.
- Elected Fellow: American College of Trial Lawyers; International Academy of Trial Lawyers.
- Member: Boston Bar Association; Massachusetts Bar Association; American Bar Association; The Association of Trial Lawyers of America; Tobacco Trial Lawyers' Association.
- Clinical Visiting Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School.
- Founding member and former treasurer and president of the Frank J. Murray Inn of Court, an association of judges and lawyers in Boston modeled after the Inns of Court in Great Britain.
Publications and Speaking Engagements
The Yale Law Journal, December 2012, Volume 122, Number 3, "The Disappearance of Civil Trial in the United States." Michael Weisman acknowledged by author, John H. Langbein