Committee Chair Corner: Alba Arriaga Romano

April 15, 2020 09:28 AM
Alba Arriaga Romano

Committee Chair Corner – Toxic and Hazardous Substances Litigation Committee
Alba Arriaga Romano
Riley Hewitt Witte & Romano, P.C.

As Chair of the Toxic and Hazardous Substances Litigation (THS) Committee, I have the privilege of sharing the work that our Committee is doing. But foremost on all of our minds, for an uncertain time in the future, is the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic that has swept through the world. 

As we navigate these uncharted waters, the IADC is collecting resources (articles, Webinars, blog posts, etc.) from IADC members that provide information related to COVID-19. You can find those on IADC's Coronavirus Resources page.

For example, there was a complimentary Webinar that the IADC presented covering different aspects and effects of COVID-19 held on March 26, 2020, “Steering Your Law Firm Through the Coronavirus Crisis” (the slides and Webinar recording are available through the IADC website at the web address noted above).

THS Committee:

The Easiest Ways to Get Involved?

  • THS “Community” in the IADC website
    • IADC Communities is another word for IADC Committees and is a forum for the exchange of ideas of interest to Committee members.
    • As a member of the THS Committee, you are already part of the THS Community.
  • THS Committee monthly conference calls take place on the first Friday of every month at Noon (Eastern)/11:00 a.m. (Central)
    • We keep them to 30 minutes.
    • We begin by briefly introducing new members. Then our Vice Chairs report on programs and opportunities to get involved as a speaker or written submission.
    • Finally, we usually conclude with a short discussion about a point of law relevant to Toxic and Hazardous Substances Litigation.

Our team of Vice Chairs has done an excellent job in raising the profile of the THS Committee in many ways, including organizing and offering programs, Newsletter articles, and Defense Counsel Journal articles. 

Vice Chair of Programs and Projects – Wendy West Feinstein
Vice Chair of Webinars – Tim Chiappetta
Vice Chair of Membership – Amy Champagne
Vice Chair of Newsletters – Craig Liljestrand
Vice Chair of Defense Counsel Journal – Douglas Chumbley
Vice Chair of Communications – Michael Fox
Vice Chair of Diversity – Michelle Hernandez
Vice Chair of Corporate Counsel – Benne Hutson
Vice Chair of Insurance – Fred Schaeffer
Vice Chair of International – Joshua Leader

The THS Committee has produced a Newsletter in every month since this team’s inception. THS Newsletter articles in 2020:

2020 March: “Plaintiffs Fail to Supply Sufficient Asbestos Evidence to Keep Verdict”

2020 February: “Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire: Are E-Cigarettes an Emerging Mass Toxic Tort?”

2020 January: “Congress’ Failure to Enact Broad-Based PFAS Legislation is Likely to Facilitate Ongoing State Regulatory Activity”

The THS Committee co-sponsored a Webinar with the Product Liability Committee. 

2020 January: “Issues in Modern Cross-Border Mass Torts Litigation.” The presentation is available for viewing on the Past Webinar Materials page on the IADC website.

New Webinar proposals for Webinars presented in late 2020 are due on June 15, 2020. The submission site will be open soon; the IADC will alert you when it is open through the IADC News weekly email.

The THS Committee had a recent DCJ publication: Volume 87 Number 1, Defense Counsel Journal: Admissibility Hurdles for 510(k) Evidence in Medical Device Litigation.

At the upcoming 2020 Annual Meeting, the THS committee will sponsor an internal Committee Program: “PFAS-ten your Seatbelt: Strategies for Responding to the Fast-Moving Regulation of PFAS Compounds,” as well as co-sponsor several Major CLE Programs.

Speaking personally, I have been a member of IADC since 2006. My family and I attended our first Annual Meeting in Bermuda in 2007 and we truly enjoyed the comradery at this meeting as “First Timers.” I still maintain the friendships and professional connections we made and continue to make at each of the subsequent meetings.

During these difficult times, it becomes even more important for us to stay connected with each other (for now, while keeping our physical distance). IADC offers the Communities, Newsletters, Webinars, and a variety of resources for support in our continued practice of law.

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.” ~ Vivien Greene

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