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Throughout its more than 100 year history, Semmes has actively engaged in trying cases in Federal and State courts, and before administrative agencies, throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. During the past 25 years, our practice has expanded to include service as national and regional counsel on behalf of individual corporations in industry-wide products liability litigation, environmental litigation, and insurance coverage litigation before courts throughout the United States.

The Litigation Practice Group, numerically the Firm’s largest, is also the Firm’s most diverse. In addition to the Firm’s strong products liability defense practice, Semmes lawyers have concentrations in areas of business litigation and arbitration, insurance (both representation of insureds as well as insurers in coverage litigation), environmental, construction, commercial litigation, as well as labor and employment law. The Litigation Practice Group includes:

  • Representation of some of the nation’s leading manufacturers of various products, on a local, regional and national basis;
  • Representation of insured and self-insured business entities in the defense of premises liability, intentional tort and wrongful discharge claims, as well as advising management on measures aimed at preventing such claims;
  • Representation of parties prosecuting tort and contract claims against local, state and federal governments;
  • Defense of parties in toxic tort and personal injury cases resulting from exposure to various chemical products;
  • Representation of many national and regional insurance carriers and self -insureds in the defense of general casualty claims and litigation;

For many years, Semmes attorneys have had extensive experience with various forms of alternative dispute resolution techniques, including particularly, mediation, arbitration, mini-trials and various combinations thereof. This experience has included service as arbitrators and mediators in addition to counsel for parties in these proceedings. Semmes is a sustaining member of the CPR/Institute for Dispute Resolution, a corporate member of the American Arbitration Association and a founding member of the National Law Firm Mediation Network. In all of these roles, as well as in the representation of individual clients, the Firm’s attorneys are committed, where appropriate, to the development of alternative dispute resolution techniques appropriate to that particular matter.

Semmes attorneys are trained to litigate matters for their clients efficiently, economically and successfully. This has been a trademark of the Firm since its inception and is a reputation that is recognized in the business and legal community and is highly valued by Semmes attorneys. Semmes has continually emphasized the necessity of its lawyers having strong trial expertise and having the skills to tailor the handling of each case to the appropriate dispute resolution procedure best suited for that particular case and the client’s needs: ADR, litigation or negotiated resolution.

Semmes will comply with all reporting requirements and guidelines and will work with your claims personnel to keep them informed of all significant developments in the Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and District of Columbia litigation.

Litigation Management Strategy And Resources

Semmes is prepared to work efficiently with claims personnel to provide quality legal representation. To that end, the lawyers and staff will apply the following skills and resources to the litigation:

Calendar – An accurate calendar permits the team to allocate trial attorneys and resources and to plan future strategy. The calendar will be updated regularly and will be available to you upon request or on a regularly scheduled basis. The firm will designate a paralegal (and a back-up paralegal) to maintain the trial calendar.

Case Intake – Semmes relies on sophisticated computer programs to track accurately case assignments and court-appointed deadlines. Local case management systems will provide case information and evaluation to supplement the data provided by you.

Expert Witnesses – The retention of expert witnesses is of great importance in the present litigation environment. Semmes has devoted a significant amount of time to develop and to maintain relationships with defense expert witnesses across the country. Semmes will continue to work to maintain these relationships, but will also forge new alliances with other expert witnesses as your litigation interests evolve.

Semmes also has extensive experience with plaintiffs’ “typically-retained” experts in litigation in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and District of Columbia. These experts are a “known quantity” of whom Semmes has access to relevant background materials, including prior testimonial transcripts, articles, and model cross-examinations.

Strong relationships with the national defense community—in particular, with the Defense Research Institute, the Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel (“FDCC”) and the International Association of Defense Counsel (“IADC”)—enable Semmes to conduct thorough background checks on out-of-state experts at little expense to our clients.

Trial Preparation and Trial – An effective litigation plan requires that local counsel be prepared to try cases. Plaintiffs’ counsel must believe that the lawyer in the courtroom can and will take a case to verdict if necessary—what we refer to as a “legitimate trial threat.” If defense counsel does not pose a legitimate trial threat, plaintiffs’ counsel will have no incentive to settle and will make ever increasing settlement demands. Semmes has developed a reputation as a formidable adversary, always prepared factually and legally to try a case.

Communication – The seminal goal of Semmes is to keep you informed. Whether the information is conveyed by written report, telephone, voicemail, e-mails, or other means, the Semmes team is available at all times and will keep everyone “in the loop.”

Document Management – Semmes has access to all of the data and documentary information necessary to prepare and to try cases. The Semmes databases include discovery and trial depositions taken or procured within the last twelve-plus years of many plaintiffs’ and defendants’ expert witnesses. Semmes also has a periodicals and textbook database with articles from various journals and reviews.

Fee Arrangements/Defense Costs – Semmes traditionally bills its clients on an “hourly, plus costs” basis. Costs are billed without mark-up. Specific billable rate information is available upon request.

Conflict Waivers – Each file that is received will be subject to Semmes’ routine conflict check. If there is a question about a potential conflict, you will be immediately notified. Semmes will not represent any client in the pursuit of claims against another client.

For more comprehensive information about any of our practice areas, please contact Stephen S. McCloskey, Esquire, Litigation Department Chair, at 410-576-4842 ( We look forward to assisting you in your litigation needs.

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