Thomas E Birsic

Partner

K&L Gates Center, 210 Sixth Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15222-2613

United States of America

Mr. Birsic maintains an active trial, arbitration and counseling practice focused on a wide range of complex commercial and insurance coverage litigation. Mr. Birsic has extensive jury and bench trial experience involving complex commercial cases, including class actions, business disputes, environmental and toxic torts, and shareholder disputes. In addition, he has tried numerous international and U.S. based commercial and coverage arbitrations to conclusion. Since 2008 alone, Mr. Birsic has tried more than 13 significant complex cases to conclusion. In recognition of his extensive trial work, Mr. Birsic has been inducted as a Fellow of both the American College of Trial Lawyers and the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. For 2018, the United States Lawyer Rankings again selected Mr. Birsic as one of the Nation’s Top 5 Commercial Litigation Lawyers. Mr. Birsic is also regularly (past 10 years) featured in both The Best Lawyers in America and Chambers, USA for bet-the-company, commercial and business litigation. He is also regularly featured in The International Who’s Who of Commercial Arbitration.

Professional Background
Mr. Birsic has been a lawyer with K&L Gates since 1979 and recently completed a term as one of the practice area leaders of the firm’s litigation and dispute resolution practice area. He is a frequent lecturer to professional groups on trial and arbitration related issues involving complex commercial litigation, insurance coverage and international arbitration issues.

Professional/Civic Activities
  • In 2018, selected again by United States Lawyer Rankings as one of the Nation’s Top 5 Commercial Litigation Lawyers
  • American College of Trial Lawyers (Fellow)
  • International Academy of Trial Lawyers (Fellow)
  • Regularly featured in The Best Lawyers in America for Business and Commercial Litigation
  • Regularly featured in Chambers, USA for Bet-the-Company and Commercial Litigation
  • Litigation Counsel of America - Trial Lawyer Honorary Society (Fellow)
  • Designated as Top Rated Lawyer in Insurance Law by American Lawyer
  • Regularly featured in The International Who’s Who of Commercial Arbitration
  • Regularly selected as a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer in Business Litigation and as one of the top 50 lawyers in Pittsburgh by Philadelphia Magazine
  • Atlantic Legal Foundation (Board of Directors)
  • 2017 ADR Champion Award by National Law Journal
  • 2014 Recipient of Distinguished Alumni Award from University of Pittsburgh School of Law
  • Academy of Trial Lawyers of Allegheny County (Past Fellow and Member of Board of Directors)
  • Judiciary Committee of the Allegheny County Bar Association (Former Chairman – 2002-2003; current member)
  • Judicial Merit Selection Committee (Officer)
  • Board of Directors of the United Way of Allegheny County (Member: 1999-2011 and Member of its Governance Committee)
  • National Pancreas Foundation (Board of Directors and Executive Committee)
  • American Heart Association – Executive Committee for Heart Walk Campaign
  • Collaborative Alliance for Pancreatic Education and Research (Board of Directors and Chair of Executive Committee)
  • In 2003, Catholic Charities presented Mr. Birsic with its Caritas Award for Service in recognition of his public service in the area of law.
Representative Experience
Select Current Engagements
  • Represents a major chemical company in connection with the defense of civil liability and damage claims arising from a series of well-publicized chemical fires at a Texas facility in the wake of Hurricane Harvey in September 2017, including the defense in federal court of a putative class action involving upwards of 30,000 individuals who allege a variety of personal and property injuries and another federal court case of combined individual actions involving 200+ plaintiffs, who were allegedly injured and/or suffered property damage during the fires.
  • Represents a major aerospace supplier in the defense of three separate ICC arbitrations filed by an aircraft original equipment manufacturer in London, Geneva and Paris alleging material defects in certain products.
  • Represents a major aluminum company in the defense of claims asserted in federal court arising out of alleged third-party contractual rights for the transport of bauxite from a mine in the Republic of Guinea.
  • Represents a major railroad services company in the defense of a federal court MDL putative class action proceeding involving the consolidation of over 24 class actions alleging anti-trust and anti-competitive claims to unlawfully restrain competition in the applicable labor markets.
  • Represents a major aluminum company in the defense of claims in federal court by twenty-seven landowners in Louisiana alleging injuries and damages suffered from purported contamination from an industrial plant.
  • Represents a major real estate developer in a closely-held business dispute in state court involving alleged breach of fiduciary duty claims associated with ten limited liability real estate entities.
Select Recent Trial Experience
  • Represented a major energy services company in a London-based arbitration against an insurer that refused to indemnify the company for its portion of a $1 billion settlement entered into to resolve lawsuits arising out of an explosion and fire that occurred onboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in 2010.
  • Represented a major aluminum company in a jury trial in state court in a bodily-injury chemical exposure case. Plaintiff, a former mine worker, alleged that he contracted a rare form of cancer as a result of his exposure to toxic substances deposited by the company from its nearby smelter in the 1960s and 1970s. The case was originally filed as a class action involving dozens of former miners alleging a wide variety of illnesses as a result of exposure to substances buried at the mine site. This case was the lead case selected by counsel for plaintiffs for trial.
  • Represented a major oil producing company in an international arbitration based in London against excess insurers who refused to indemnify the company for a settlement of a class action in excess of $500 million arising out of a crude oil spill at a refinery caused by Hurricane Katrina.
  • Represented a major electrical equipment supplier in a jury trial in Fulton County (Atlanta) Georgia state court involving claims of breach of contract and fraud brought by a former CEO of a joint-venture company under a multi-year earn out contract.
  • Represented a major aluminum company in a jury trial in federal court defending claims of strict liability and negligence by a plaintiff alleging that pulmonary injuries necessitating a double-lung transplant resulted from inhalation of aluminum particles from fabricating metal in the workplace.
  • Represented a major off-shore oil producer in a jury trial in Harris County (Houston) Texas against a number of excess insurers seeking coverage for work removal and decommissioning expenses incurred in connection with five offshore platforms and related pipelines that were destroyed during Hurricane Katrina.
  • Represented a major aluminum company in an ICC arbitration concerning an explosion and fire that took place at an aluminum smelter facility in Iceland in 2010 resulting in claims against a French company for providing latently-defective electrical equipment that caused the explosion and fire.
  • Represented the worlds largest internet auctioneer in a jury trial in federal court prosecuting patent claims against a Florida company related to methods for conducting auctions of financial or legal instruments over electronic networks.
  • Represented a major aluminum company in an ICC arbitration brought by a Dutch mining company over claims related to the development of a bauxite mine in Suriname.

Education

  • B.B.A., University of Notre Dame (1976)
  • J.D., University of Pittsburgh School of Law (1979)

Admissions

Bar of Pennsylvania
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