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David A. Ernst

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David Ernst is a partner at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP in Portland.  As a seasoned trial lawyer, he has many years of experience representing plaintiffs and defendants in complex, often high-profile cases throughout the United States. His primary focus for the past 15 years has been on litigation and risk management issues for the food and beverage industry. David regularly represents national restaurant chains, food manufacturers, and distributors. He has handled more than 1,000 cases across the U.S. arising from outbreak and contamination claims, including E.coli, Hepatitis A, and Salmonella claims. David also consults with the industry on risk management and policy development. His work also includes employment litigation for local clients and abuse litigation for nonprofit institutions.

David has been recognized as a premier litigator by Chambers USA: “America’s Leading Lawyers for Business”; the publication has described him as having “developed an impressive national reputation in food outbreak disputes.” He is also named as one of the “Best Lawyers in America” by Woodward/White, where he is one of only 14 attorneys recognized nationwide for achievement in Food and Beverage Law.

Practice Highlights

  • Coordinating counsel for West Coast beef processor in 2007 national E. coli O157:H7 outbreak, resulting in dozens of claims.
  • Counsel for produce distributor in 2006 E. coli outbreak in Utah resulting in numerous significant claims.
  • National coordinating counsel for restaurant chain associated with a 2006 E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in the Midwest.
  • National coordinating counsel for Chi Chi’s restaurant chain in 2003 Hepatitis A outbreak in Pennsylvania. This was the largest Hepatitis A outbreak in U.S. history and resulted in more than 600 claims.
  • Counsel for peanut butter manufacturer in national salmonella outbreak in 2007.
  • Since 1990, counsel for national restaurant chains in numerous high profile foodborne illness cases throughout the United States.
  • Numerous engagements for restaurant chains, food manufacturers, and distributors on food safety risk management, policy development, and food outbreak response plans.

Mr. Ernst received a B.S. from Oregon State University and J.D. from Lewis & Clark.  He is the former president of the law school’s Alumni Board of Directors.

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