Toxic Tort Litigation

Signature’s toxic tort litigation practice is unique in the market as it focuses on a wide spectrum of civil and regulatory claims – ranging from environmental contamination disputes to plaintiff personal injury product and workplace exposure cases relating to health.

We have a record of success in helping clients determine how best to approach and manage toxic tort risks and to deal with litigation when it arises.

We are well-known by French Courts ruling in the toxic tort cases as being serious, diligent and not disrespectful to plaintiffs while mounting a strong defence.
  • Our experience in handling toxic torts claims in the French Courts is extensive. In dealing with allegations against chemical substances or suspected dangerous products, we have acted in more than 200 cases over the past decade relating to these issues.
  • Our track-record in toxic tort cases demonstrates our passion for this type of work: we enjoy getting into the technical details and understanding our clients’ products and culture.
  • Our knowledge of how French Courts operate in dealing with allegations against chemical substances or suspected dangerous products enables us to provide clients with an unparalleled ability to deal with the specialist aspects of toxic tort litigation.
  • Our approach centres on applying a vision to employee & toxic tort cases. This has resulted in very significant case law reversal and pro-company case law. Some of our toxic tort successes have even been mentioned in the Civil and Social Security Codes – a rare occurrence which only happens for cases of great significance.
  • Our strategy is to win thanks to attention to detail. We have originated several innovative defences that French Courts were not used to seeing in such cases. Making a difference has allowed us to have plaintiffs’ actions dismissed.
  • Our client-base is 80% manufacturers: we know how sites operate, what corporate obligations are and how Works Councils and unions think. In dealing with plaintiffs’ Counsel, we know what documents to look for to provide counter-evidence.
  • We regularly work with US-based in-house Counsel. We understand the challenges of French litigation and translate this into reporting tools for company management. In dealing with the “home field advantage” of individual plaintiffs, we know how to change the approach of the French Courts.

Sylvie Gallage-Alwis is known in the French market as a leading toxic tort and mass litigation lawyer and her practice has focused, for the past ten years, on chemical-related litigation. As such she has been involved in most pro-company case law rendered in recent years, notably in asbestos related cases, with some cases being mentioned in the French Civil and Social Security Codes due to the significant reversal in case law they represent.

Sylvie is both an Avocat à la Cour in France and a Solicitor in England & Wales. She is described by Who’s Who Legal as a “dynamic and determined litigator”, who is “a firm favourite among clients” as “she always goes the extra mile to support her clients, and is proactive in seeking commercial solutions to disputes” and is “analytical, intelligent and responsive”.

Toxic Tort Litigation Team

“They are quite commercial in their approach and don’t escalate matters; rather they find the most efficient way to deal with things”

Chambers UK 2020

Sylvie Gallage-Alwis

Sylvie is described by Who’s Who Legal as a “dynamic and determined litigator”, who is “a firm favourite among clients” as “she always goes the extra mile to support her clients, and is proactive in seeking commercial solutions to disputes” and is “analytical, intelligent and responsive”.

Sylvie Gallage-Alwis
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Thomas Rouhette

Thomas is ranked Band 2 by both Chambers Global and Europe for his litigation and aviation law expertise, with sources praising him for his “invaluable” advice, experience and knowledge. The Legal 500 EMEA Guide recognises Thomas as a ‘Leading Individual’ for his aviation and commercial litigation practices, and he is regarded as a ‘Recommended Lawyer’ for his insurance experience. Who’s Who Legal regards Thomas as the “finest product liability lawyer in the country and one of the very best on the continent.”

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Toxic Tort Litigation Experience

Advising a US textile manufacturer following investigation by French authorities on some allegations and presence of chemicals in the products.

Representing a plant director in the scope of allegations by the local population of environmental disruption.

Advising cosmetics manufacturers on the use of allegations linked to the lack of chemical substances.

Instructed to act for a defendant in the first agent orange claim filed in France.

Assisting the leading seeds company in Europe in the scope of claims brought by farmers due to the lack of growth of their seeds (with the issue of which pesticides had been used).

Dealing on a daily basis with the Labour Inspection in the scope of the remediation & closing of a site where various chemical substances were used.

Assisting a Japanese pesticides manufacturer in the scope of investigations launched by French Customs on the ingredients and environmental claims used.

Representing manufacturers in over 8,000 individual claims filed by former employees on the ground of the anxiety to develop a disease due to exposure to chemicals.

Representing the leading French car manufacturer in the scope of the Dieselgate worldwide investigation and aftermath consumer claims.

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