Publications and Presentations
Our Knowledge of the Legal And Technical Issues
Our practice model of handling product liability cases focused on specific product types allows us to acquire the degree of knowledge necessary to provide our clients with the highest quality representation available. Markland Hanley’s knowledge of the law and of the technical issues is your company’s shield in response to plaintiffs’ trial lawyers’ unjustified attacks on your company’s products. Our knowledge is a foundation for the sense of calm and confidence that in-house counsel and company management can feel in the product liability storm.
Our Knowledge of the Law
Because we focus our practice on limited legal niche areas (e.g. products liability focused on a limited class of products and types), our knowledge of the law in these niche areas is extremely deep and well organized. For instance, we have exhaustive internally developed proprietary books that summarize Texas product liability law, and Texas and federal law regarding the exclusion of adverse experts, which can be repeatedly utilized without costly payment for an attorney’s education. We systematically review all Texas Supreme Court cases and applicable federal cases dealing with Texas product liability law and with exclusion of experts’ testimony, among other subjects, and we continually update our proprietary books on these subjects.
Our Knowledge of Technical Issues
We have taken the non-billable time necessary to learn the engineering, medical and other technical issues that arise in product liability cases involving the types of advanced products that we defend. Our goal is to be technical experts regarding such products, as well as legal experts. Because we focus our practice on limited technical areas (e.g. autonomous products) our knowledge of the technical issues arising in litigation regarding such areas is extremely deep and well organized. Our existing technical knowledge can be repeatedly utilized without costly payment for an attorney’s education.
Our focus on the noted autonomous product groups recognizes the overlaps relative to technical and legal issues in products liability litigation that exist within the cases involving these product types. We learn ever more about the technical and legal points useful in the practice related to each of the product groups. Autonomous vehicles do and will incorporate robotic product aspects, including sensory inputs, algorithmic based judgments, and programmed actions. Drones of the future will employ similar autonomous or partially autonomous functions. Artificial intelligence functions will be incorporated into and permeate the world of autonomous vehicles, drones, robots, and eventually nano-medical devices. Nano-medical devices will incorporate many of the autonomous systems, learning, judgment and action functions as do some autonomous vehicles, robots, drones, and other artificial intelligence assisted products. Learning about handling products cases related to all of these product groups will reinforce and build on our firm’s competencies and will constitute Markland Hanley as a unique law firm – the law firm most capable of handling product cases relating to autonomous and partially autonomous products. Like computer chips under Moore’s law, our knowledge and capabilities will grow exponentially every few years. We will be most able to defend technologically advanced products- because we are defenders of overlapping types of advanced products, including autonomous and partially autonomous products, all confronted by similar attacks by plaintiffs’ trial lawyers and all confronted with the need for similar technical and legal responses to such attacks.
Like computer chips under Moore’s Law, our knowledge and capabilities will grow exponentially every few years.
Our Knowledge of Inter-Company Relationships
We have also educated ourselves regarding the present and developing acquisitions being consummated, and partnerships being forged within the autonomous products industries. For example, we are aware of and understand the acquisitions consummated and partnerships formed by major players in the autonomous vehicle arena such as Ford Motor Company (SAIPS acquisition, Argo Artificial Intelligence investment, Nirenberg Neuroscience license agreement, Velodyne investment, partnership with Lyft), Delphi Automotive (Ottamatika acquisition, NuTonomy acquisition, partnerships with BMW, Mobileye, Intel, and Audi), Continental (partnerships with BMW, Intel, and Mobileye), Intel (partnerships with Waymo and Tesla), and Nvidia, (partnerships with Audi, Toyota, Tesla, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, Volkswagen, Bosch, ZF, and Mobileye). Our knowledge of these developing acquisitions and partnerships will assist in avoiding any proposed defensive responses to plaintiffs’ trial lawyers’ attacks that might impair these inter-company relationships.
Autonomous Vehicle Partnerships
Ford Motor Co. is heavily invested in Pittsburgh-based 2016 self-driving startup, Argo AI. The automaker has also acquired SAIPS, an Israeli company focusing on machine learning and computer vision. SAIPS’ technology offers image and video processing algorithms, as well as deep learning tech focused on processing and classifying input signals, all key ingredients in autonomous vehicle tech. Ford is also partnering exclusively with Nirenberg Neuroscience, to bring more “humanlike intelligence” to machine learning components of driverless car systems and has tapped IBM to add cloud and big data capabilities to its Smart Mobility initiative. By streaming data, the pair believes it can improve the driving experience. Finally, Ford’s desire to attain mass production of affordable automotive lidar sensors to equip its ride-sharing cars may explain its investment in Velodyne, the company that calls itself “the recognized global leader in lidar technology.”
In 2016, General Motors acquired Cruise Automation, adding Cruise’s deep software talent and rapid development capability to accelerate its development of autonomous vehicle technology. In January of 2018, Cruise Automation unveiled the latest version of its autonomous vehicle — and the steering wheel and other manual controls had been removed. GM and Cruise, which is based in San Francisco, expect the new vehicle to serve in ride-hailing services in cities across the U.S. In October of 2018, Honda Motor Co., GM, and Cruise announced that the Japanese automaker has agreed to buy a $750 million stake in G.M.’s Cruise Holdings. In addition, Honda will contribute $2 billion to the project over the next 12 years. “Having the resources and capability of Honda will move us faster,” G.M.’s president, Dan Ammann, said in a conference call on Wednesday, October 3, 2018. Honda’s investment will give it a 5.7 percent stake in the Cruise venture.
While Ford and GM have been tackling the self-driving vehicle frontier somewhat independently, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has taken a different approach. In 2017, the company revealed a large-scale expansion of its partnership with Google spin-off, Waymo, under which FCA will supply Waymo’s autonomous fleet with 62,000 Chrysler Pacifica minivans (a big leap from the 600 vehicles Waymo was operating at the time). That same year, FCA also announced it would be joining a group made up of BMW, Intel and Mobileye to develop an autonomous vehicle platform together. While not detailing what each company is providing, the announcement said FCA “will bring engineering and other technical resources and expertise to the cooperation, as well as its significant sales volumes, geographic reach and long-time experience in North America.”
Japanese automaker Toyota announced in August 2018 that it would invest $500 million in Uber, striking a partnership with the ride-hailing app company to pursue self-driving vehicles. The companies will launch a self-driving car pilot by 2021, though they did not say where it would occur. The partnership between the two companies began in 2016 when Toyota first announced it was collaborating with Uber on vehicle leasing options. In the new deal, engineers will incorporate technology from both companies into Toyota vehicles designed for deployment on Uber’s network.
Toyota, along with BMW, is also investing in and partnering with self-driving tech company Nauto to leverage Nauto’s real-world driving and safety data to develop self-driving cars. Nauto gathers real world driving and accident data from manually driven cars by partnering with commercial fleets and now automakers. Nauto provides aggregated and anonymized data to the automakers so they can use it to program and develop autonomous driving software. Toyota also has a significant stake in Japanese map supplier, Zenrin, which has revealed plans to commercialize 3D maps, as a major push towards autonomous diving, by 2020. Zenrin is working on a system to translate data gathered from vehicles mounted with cameras and other equipment in real time.
In January of 2018, Hyundai Motor Company and Aurora Innovations Inc., a leader in autonomous vehicle technology, announced a strategic partnership to bring self-driving Hyundai vehicles to market by 2021. The partnership will incorporate Aurora’s self-driving technology into Hyundai vehicles starting with models custom-developed and launched in test programs and pilot cities. Over the longer term, Hyundai and Aurora will work to commercialize self-driving vehicles worldwide. To start, the partnership will focus on the ongoing development of hardware and software for automated and autonomous driving and the back-end data services required for Level 4 automation. In July of 2018, Hyundai said it was partnering with Autotalks, an Israeli provider of vehicle to everything (V2X) communication technology for improving road safety. Hyundai said it is expanding partnerships for connectivity technology vital to autonomous driving and invested in Autotalks to accelerate the development of the next generation chipset for connected cars.
In addition to forming a partnership with GM, Honda has been negotiating a partnership with Waymo since late 2016, and, as of April 2018, those talks were said to be nearing completion, according to Bloomberg. Rather than moving people, as was the focus of Waymo’s deals with Fiat Chrysler and Jaguar Land Rover, the partnership with Honda is said to be focused on delivering goods. The two companies are allegedly planning to co-create a vehicle from the ground up rather than modifying existing models, as Waymo has done with Jaguar and Fiat Chrysler. Honda is partnered with SenseTime, a Chinese startup, that may power its autonomous cars of the future. SenseTime is well known for its object recognition technology used by both public and private entities in China. The two companies have agreed to a five-year joint R&D project that will combine SenseTime’s AI and deep learning smarts with Honda’s automotive focused-AI tech to develop solutions that Honda hopes will enable self-driving cars to operate safely in urban areas.
Nissan Motor Co. and NASA formed a five-year research and development partnership to advance autonomous vehicle systems and prepare for commercial application of the technology way back in 2015. Researchers from NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley and the automaker have been collaborating on the development of autonomous driving technologies that could one day be used in future consumer vehicles, robotic rovers on Mars and other space exploration missions. The Renault-Nissan Alliance and Microsoft have a multi-year contract for developing the next-generation of in-car technology. The backbone of these innovations would come from Microsoft’s Azure cloud-based computing infrastructure. Nissan plans to have more than 10 models with some autonomous capability on sale by 2020, and many of the Microsoft partnership’s potential innovations could give people something to do while the vehicle takes care of the driving.
The Volkswagen Group of America and other major players in the automotive innovation industry have joined forces to pool their resources and expertise in a bid to accelerate the development of driver-less technology. The newly formed Networking for Autonomous Vehicles (NAV) Alliance was created to drive the ecosystem required for the next generation of multi-gig Ethernet networking in vehicles, according to its mission statement. Its goal is not to develop the core technology for autonomy. Instead, it hopes to improve and secure the thought process autonomous cars follow to gather, analyze, and store information. As of June 2018, the list of companies in the NAV Alliance includes, in addition to Volkswagen, German suppliers Bosch and Continental, chipmaker Nvidia, and connectivity specialist Aquantia. Volkswagen is also utilizing road data gleaned from Mobileye technology to enhance digital maps it is securing from Here, the former Nokia mapping division that BMW, Daimler, and Volkswagen’s Audi unit acquired in 2015.
BMW has partnered with Mobileye and Intel in its quest to release a fully self-driving vehicle by 2021.
In July of 2018, BMW announced that it is moving forward with joining the Apollo Autonomous drive platform of Chinese internet service company Baidu to improve autonomy. The “Apollo Plan,” launched by Baidu in July 2017, receives state funding as a critical national AI project. Road testing of commercial vehicles will start in 2018, with passenger vehicle test runs slated to begin in 2019.The upshot is more on-the-road testing that’s essential before the first Level 4 and Level 5 cars are put in the hands of buyers. In addition to BMW, the initiative counts Honda, the first Japanese automaker to join, Ford, Daimler AG, and Nvidia and Intel, among its roughly 100 members. In April 2018, BMW and Israel-based Innoviz announced that Innoviz will supply solid-state lidar to BMW. The Innoviz device, along with radar and other systems, will be incorporated into a self-driving package from auto supplier Magna.
Daimler AG announced in July of 2018 that it and partner Bosch will use the Nvidia Drive Pegasus AI platform, with the intention of shipping autonomous cars within five years, initially to be used as autonomous taxis.
In March of 2018, Jaguar Land Rover and Waymo announced a long-term strategic partnership. Together, according to the joint statement, the two companies will develop the world’s first premium self-driving electric vehicle for Waymo’s driverless transportation service. Under the terms of the arrangement, Waymo will incorporate the automaker’s new self-driving Jaguar I-PACE vehicle into its autonomous driving fleet, which is set to debut in 2020. Waymo projects up to 20,000 I-Paces will be built in the first two years of production, which could serve a potential one million trips every day, according to a press release.
In its quest to become the standard technology inside all self-driving cars in the future, Nvidia has partnered with a slew of auto manufacturers, including BMW, Volkswagen, Daimler, Volvo AB, Honda, and Tesla. In one unusual partnership, announced in 2017, Nvidia is participating in a joint venture, Zenuity, formed by Volvo and its supplier, Autoliv, that will develop self-driving car software using Nvidia’s core technology platform as the foundation for software for self-driving cars that may be resold to other auto makers. Nvidia’s latest deal with Volvo enhances its previous deal, in which its supercomputer-in-a-box technology is the core for the semiautonomous feature on the Volvo S90. Volvo AB, which is owned by Chinese company Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, said that commercial self-driving cars built using Nvidia’s Drive PX car computing platform are planned for sale in 2021. Nvidia’s Drive PX system is an artificial-intelligence-based system that can range from a small, palm-sized system for cruise-control capabilities to a full-on supercomputer that enables a full 360-degree awareness of a vehicle’s surroundings with a high-definition map, adjusting to changing circumstances, for self-driving cars. Nvidia has also formed partnerships with two German companies, ZF Friedrichshafen AG, an auto chassis supplier, and Hella, a supplier of camera perception software and sensor technologies, to provide more pieces of the total car. Nvidia’s Drive PX platform will form the basis of a self-driving system that integrates front cameras and radar developed by ZF and Hella to include safety certification for mass deployment.
Our Effective Use of Our Knowledge
We utilize our extremely organized knowledge of substantive product liability law and expert testimony exclusionary law, and of the technical issues seen in our clients’ cases, at every stage of litigation to destroy our adversaries’ experts and their technical cases. Our efforts result in the most cost-effective disposition of the case for the client.
Our goal is to do the following better than anyone else in the world:
Destroy the adversaries’ experts through questioning during depositions, putting in place all of the viable grounds for excluding the experts’ opinions and otherwise undermining their testimony, including use of the Texas law exclusionary cases of E.I. Dupont de Nemours Co. vs. Robinson and Merrill Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. vs. Havner.
Prepare, and argue the strongest possible Daubert/Robinson/Havner and other exclusionary motions, maximizing the chance of exclusion of the experts’ testimony, followed by strong motions for summary judgment, thus putting on our adversaries the maximum leverage for settlement or as necessary putting together the maximum efforts needed to try the case.
Develop our clients’ technical experts’ positions, including through highly persuasive testing, demonstrations, statistical and other technical evidence.
Prepare our clients’ in-house witnesses and defense side experts to be fully ready to perform in deposition and trial testimony at the highest level, including assisting them in understanding Texas and federal law, including expert witness exclusionary law.
Utilize our knowledge of the law to develop all beneficial substantive legal positions for our clients.
Our success in developing knowledge in our areas of practice and the results arising from such knowledge are reflected in the testimonials and in the professional accolades that we have received. We would particularly point to the testimonials on this website provided by some the best plaintiffs’ trial lawyers practicing product liability litigation.