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AAJ Updates

Section on Toxic, Environmental, and Pharmaceutical Torts (STEP) Reorganizing into Two New Sections

December 01,2022

The Section on Toxic, Environmental, and Pharmaceutical Torts (STEP) was formed in 1996. Since that time, there has been significant growth in environmental and toxic torts as well as pharmaceutical and medical device litigation.

To better serve members handling these varied cases, the Section Leadership Council proposed splitting this section into two new sections--the Environmental and Toxic Torts Section and the Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Section. The AAJ Board of Governors agreed, and in July 2022, voted to divide STEP and create two unique groups to better represent and assist AAJ members. The new Environmental and Toxic Torts and Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Sections will provide focused resources and education to AAJ members in the form of an active community list server, document library, meetings, events, and CLE programs. The split will be formalized in January 2023.

What this means for current STEP members?

Existing STEP members will automatically be enrolled in both the Environmental and Toxic Torts Section and Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Section and automatically be added to both of the new section list servers on Tuesday, January 24, 2023. The STEP list server will be deactivate on Friday, January 19, 2023 and members will not be able to post or receive messages on the list server after that date. Members will be able to access the new list servers and community pages from the My Communities tab on their member dashboard.

New Environmental and Toxic Torts Section

Environmental and Toxic Torts Section will focus on all areas of environmental torts and assists members litigating cases involving exposure to dangerous chemicals, toxic emissions, and hazardous waste. Addresses asbestos, herbicides and pesticides, PFAS and other “forever chemicals,” climate change litigation, environmental pollution, hazardous waste and exposure, environmental racism, and other dangerous chemicals.

2022-2023 Environmental and Toxic Torts Section Officers

  • Chair: Kevin S. Hannon | Hannon Law Firm, Denver, CO
  • Chair-Elect: Rhon E. Jones | Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, PC, Montgomery, AL
  • Vice Chair: Gale D. Pearson | Fears Nachawati Law Firm, Dallas, TX
  • Membership Liaison: James Bilsborrow | Weitz & Luxenberg, PC, New York, NY
  • Secretary: Brian LaCien | Smith LaCien LLP, Chicago, IL
  • Online Content Editor (OCE): Stephanie Biehl | Sher Edling, LLP, San Francisco, CA

New Pharmaceutical and Medical Device

Pharmaceutical and Medical Device will focus on pharmaceutical products and medical devices, including orthopedic implants, prescription drug side-effects, manufacturer and distributor liability, class action and multidistrict litigation, federal preemption, and other theories of liability.

2022-2023 Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Section Officers

  • Chair: O. Mark Zamora | Mark Zamora Law, St. Petersburg, FL
  • Chair-Elect: Kelly K. McNabb | Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, San Francisco, CA
  • Vice Chair: Benjamin Gastel | Branstetter Stranch & Jennings, PLLC, Nashville, TN
  • Membership Liaison: Christina Natale | Bailey Glasser, LLP, Washington, DC
  • Secretary: Annesley DeGaris | DeGaris & Rogers, LLC, Birmingham, AL
  • Online Content Editor (OCE): Anne Rice Ervin | Motley Rice LLC, Mt. Pleasant, SC
  • Online Content Editor (OCE): David Stern | ASK LLP, St. Paul, MN


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