Michael J. Pietrykowski

Partner

  • Office Contact Info
  • Biography

    Mike Pietrykowski’s practice focuses on toxic tort and environmental matters and he is Chair of Gordon & Rees’s national Environmental and Toxic Tort practice group. He serves as both National and Regional Counsel for defendants, regularly appearing in courts throughout the U.S. Mr. Pietrykowski is a very active participant in a national industry focus group and, as such, participates in thought leadership discussions involving defense strategies for a sector of the asbestos litigation.

    He has experience with all major environmental statutes including the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (Superfund), and California’s Proposition 65. He has also handled a wide variety of toxic tort cases including those involving chemicals, asbestos and mold exposures. He has also represented defendants in personal injury, products liability and professional liability cases. He has spoken at numerous regional and national seminars on topics such as the chemical, asbestos, and mold litigation and the use of experts in environmental cases.

    Prior to joining Gordon & Rees in 1984, Mr. Pietrykowski worked for several years as a sports attorney representing professional athletes. In that capacity, he acquired extensive contract negotiation experience.

    Admissions

    California
    Connecticut

    Memberships

    • Association of Defense Trial Attorneys
    • Defense Research Institute
      • Former California Liaison, DRI Environmental and Toxic Tort Subcommittee
    • Midwest Environmental Claims Association
      • Former co-chair, Midwest Environmental Claims Association, Public Relations Committee
    • American Bar Association
    • Connecticut Bar Association
    • California Bar Association
    • San Francisco Bar Association
     
  • Practice Areas
  • Representative Experience

    Representative Experience

    • Trial Counsel in an environmental site contamination case involving CERCLA claims and alleged PCB contamination from the manufacture of transformers, railroad practices and other PRPs.

    • Defended environmental professionals in a multiple plaintiff case involving alleged mold and asbestos personal injury claims.

    • Defended a lumber mill owner and operator against claims by the State Water Board for site and water contamination. Eventually, the site was redeveloped for industrial use.

    • Trial counsel in several asbestos trials.

    • Has counseled property owners on property contamination issues, and environmental investigations and response actions.

    • Has represented clients before the regional and state water quality control boards in cleanup and abatement order proceedings.

    • Has represented clients in communications and negotiations with the Department of Toxic Substances Control and the Environmental Protection Agency.

    • Trial counsel in several personal injury trials defending such entities as premise owners, elevator manufacturers and product manufacturers.

    • Defended dry cleaner defendants and carriers.

    • Appellate Victory Limiting Product Liability Claims: In Taylor v. Elliott Turbomachinery Co. (2009) 171 Cal.App.4th 564, the court held that a defendant is not liable for products of others that the defendant did not manufacture or supply. Plaintiffs alleged that decedent Reginald Taylor was exposed to asbestos-containing products while working in the U.S. Navy during the 1960s. Multiple defendant corporations supplied the U.S. Navy with various pieces of equipment utilized in ship propulsion systems, and some of the equipment had asbestos-containing parts. The asbestos-containing products to which Mr. Taylor was exposed (such as insulation and some replacement parts) were used on or near the defendant’s equipment, but were manufactured and supplied by third parties, not by the defendants. Gordon & Rees argued on behalf of clients that liability should be limited to those in the chain of distribution of the products that contained asbestos. Agreeing with this position, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of defendants and the court of appeal affirmed. This was the first California appellate ruling on this important issue and was later confirmed by the O’Neil case.  

    • Second Published Appellate Decision in 2009 on Asbestos Product Liability: Merrill v. Leslie Controls, Inc. (Sept. 25, 2009) 2009 WL 3051534 endorsed and expressly followed Gordon & Rees' victory earlier this year in Taylor v. Elliott Turbomachinery Co., (2009) 171 Cal.App.4th 564, which recognized a “bright-line legal distinction tied to the injury-producing product in the stream of commerce” (emphasis in original). In each case, the asbestos-containing products to which the plaintiff was exposed were used on or near the defendant’s equipment, but were manufactured and supplied by third parties. As Merrill held, “[t]he plaintiff bears the burden of linking the injury-producing product with a particular entity in the chain of distribution.” Because “plaintiffs have not shown that [Gordon & Rees client] Leslie Controls manufactured, supplied, or distributed the products which caused” injury, “Leslie Controls was not required to give warnings about those other products.” The holding of Taylor and Merrill is that manufacturers are not liable for products they did not supply, even if the defendant knows that the other products are dangerous, and will be used with the defendant’s, and even if those products are replacement parts (e.g., internal gaskets and packing) that are identical to parts originally supplied by the manufacturer. Merrill also extended Taylor in at least one significant respect. Taylor had expressly addressed failure to warn claims only, because only that theory was at issue there. Merrill held that “The Taylor analysis also applies to design defect.”

     
  • Publications & Presentations

    Publications

    • Mold Litigation Update: Expanding Claims, New Parties and Even Higher Stakes, Mealey’s Emerging Toxic Torts Conference, Pasadena, CA (June 2002)
    • Silicosis; The Next Asbestos, Gordon & Rees Environmental and Toxic Tort Quarterly Newsletter (May, 2002)
    • A New Dance to an Old Song; Spoliation of Evidence and Subsequent Remedial Measures in the Mold Litigation, Mealey’s National Mold Conference, Philadelphia, PA (May 2002)
    • Establishing Medical Causation – An Uphill Fight for Plaintiffs, national environmental newsletter (April 2002)
    • California Mold Litigation – Expanded Claims, New Parties and Higher Stakes, Microbial Contamination Workshop: Sampling, Laboratory, Remediation and Legal Aspects (April and August 2001)
    • Got Mold Regulations?, Forensic Analytical Advisor, Vol. 2, Issue 2 (Spring 2000)

    Presentations

    • COVID-19: Safety and Legal Challenges for Open Businesses, Forensic Analytical (June 2020) 
    • COVID-19 Legal Issues for Property Owners, CBRE (May 2020) 
    • COVID-19: Re-Opening Businesses - How to Protect People, Property and Your Business, Travelers Insurance (May 2020) 
    • COVID-19 and the Asbestos Litigation, Travelers Insurance (April and June 2020)
    • How to Settle a Case When You Don't Have all the Answers, Gordon & Rees Legal Education Conference, New York and Hartford (May 2019)
    • Faculty Member, Managing Mass Tort; Pre-Trial. Part 1 and 2, National Judicial Conference (December 2015 and February 2016)
    • Asbestos Report, Travelers Asbestos and Lung Cancer Seminar, Hartford, CT (November 2014)
    • Litigating Claims Involving Component Part Manufacturers: Evolving Theories of Liability for Other Manufacturers’ Products and What to Expect in 2014, ACI 16th National Conference, San Francisco, CA (January 2014)
    • Litigating Claims Involving Component Part Manufacturers: Evolving Theories of Liability for Other Manufacturers’ Products and What to Expect in 2014, American Conference Institute (ACI), San Francisco, CA (January 31, 2014)
    • Task Force on Asbestos Litigation and the Bankruptcy Trust, ABA Panel, Los Angeles, CA (October 2013)
    • Oregon and California Update, CNA Seminar, Chicago, IL (October 2013)
    • 2012: Year in Review, Emerging Issues for the Most Active Jurisdictions in 2012, 15th Annual National Asbestos Litigation Conference, HB Litigation Conferences, Chicago, IL (October 2012)
    • In-House Counsel: Selection of Experts, LexisNexis® Emerging Issues Series webinar, (April 28, 2011)
    • Co-chair, The 13th Annual National Asbestos Litigation Conference, HB Litigation Conferences, New York, NY (October 2010)
    • Removal to Federal Court:  What's the Big Fuss?, Emerging Trends in Asbestos Litigation, Third Annual HB Litigation Conference, Marina del Rey, CA (March 2010)
    • Conference co-chair and panel moderator, National Asbestos Litigation Conference, Mealey’s National Asbestos Litigation Conference, San Francisco, CA (September 2009)
    • Federal Removal in Asbestos Cases, Mealey’s National Asbestos Litigation SuperConference, Scottsdale, AZ (September 2008)
    • Challenges for the Los Angeles Asbestos Litigation, Harris Martin seminar on California Asbestos Litigation, Beverly Hills, CA (September 2008)
    • Invited speaker, Goodyear National Meeting, Akron, OH (April 2008)
    • Third Party Mold Liability/ Sick Building Syndrome: Where is the Pendulum?, 13th Annual Claims Conference of Northern California, Sacramento, CA (September 2006)
    • The Current State of Mold Litigation, ACCA 38th Annual Conference and Indoor Air EXPO, San Jose, CA (March 2006)
    • Chemical Exposure Litigation, 2005 California Industrial Hygiene Council’s Annual Conference, an Francisco, CA (December 2005)
    • Recovery of Attorneys Fees in Mold Cases, Travelers Insurance Company Seminar, Denver, CO (April 2005)
    • Mold Remediation and Litigation in the Construction Industry, American Chemical Society National Symposium, San Diego, CA (March 2005)
    • Silica Litigation, International Package Concrete Manufacturers Association National Convention, San Diego, CA (March 2005)
    • Invited speaker, Third Annual Mold Conference, San Francisco, CA (February 2004)
    • Mold Litigation Update, 2003 California Industrial Hygiene Council’s Annual Conference, San Francisco, CA (December 2003)
    • Mold and the Law, University of California Extension Class, San Francisco, CA (October 2003)
    • Mold 101, Bridgeport’s 3rd Annual Managing Mold Liability Conference, San Francisco, CA (July 2003)
    • Indoor Air Regulatory Update, Pacific Industrial and Business Association Seminar, Palo Alto, CA (June 2003)
    • Assessing the Liability Risk Associated with Developing and/or Manufacturing Potent Compounds, Design and Verification of Control Methodologies for Potent and Hazardous Compounds Seminar, San Francisco, CA (June 2003)
    • Featured speaker, The New Rules for Property Owners and Managers Concerning Indoor Air Quality Issues, San Francisco and Lafayette, CA (June 2003)
    • Mold Claims and Litigation, Affordable Housing Management Association – Annual Conference, San Jose, CA (April 2003)
    • Mold and Legal Issues for the Insulation Industry, Western Insulation Association Spring Meeting, Walnut Creek, CA (March 2003)
    • Featured speaker, Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters Society’s All Industry Day Seminar, San Francisco, CA (March 2003)
    • Speaker, California Association of Industrial Hygienists, San Francisco, CA (December 2002)
    • Co-chairperson, Mealey’s Toxic Tort Conference, Boston, MA (November 2002)
    • Featured speaker by AIG to address insureds and brokers concerning trends in mold litigation, Seattle, WA (October 2002)
    • Is Toxic Mold the Next Asbestos?, Chairperson and featured speaker, Continuing Education of the Bar (CEB) Seminar, San Francisco, CA (September 2002)
    • Legal Issues in Mold Property Damage and Personal Injury Cases, Northern California Association of Defense Counsel Seminar, Sacramento, CA (June 2002)
    • An Overview of the Mold Litigation and Coverage Issues, AIG, San Francisco, CA (June 2002)
    • Mold Issues and Concerns for the Property Owner and Manager, Chairperson and featured speaker, Building Owners and Management Association (BOMA), San Diego, CA (June 2002)
    • New Issues and Trends in the Mold Litigation, Mealey’s Toxic Tort Seminar, Pasadena, CA (June 2002)
    • Spoliation of Evidence and Subsequent Remedial Repairs in the Mold Litigation, Mealey’s Mold Litigation Conference, Philadelphia, PA (May 2002)
    • The Emerging Mold Litigation, Western Regional Conference on Lead, Mold, Healthy Homes and Children’s Environmental Health, Berkeley, CA (April 2002)
    • Mold-Related Property Claims, Fireman’s Fund Insurance Property Damage Group, Sacramento, CA (December 2001)
    • The Introduction and Exclusion of Expert Witnesses in a Mold Case, Mealey’s National Mold Conference, Pasadena, CA (October 2001)
    • Claims Handling for Mold, California Association of Independent Adjusters, Pleasanton, CA (October 2001)
    • California Mold Litigation – Expanded Claims, New Parties and Higher Stakes
    • Microbial Contamination Workshop: Sampling, Laboratory, Remediation and Legal Aspects, Long Beach, CA (August 2001)
    • California Mold Litigation – Expanded Claims, New Parties and Higher Stakes, Microbial Contamination Workshop: Sampling, Laboratory, Remediation and Legal Aspects, Union City, CA (April 2001) 
     
  • Education

    Education

    J.D.,University of Notre Dame , 1983

    M.A., University of Notre Dame, 1980

    B.A., University of Notre Dame, 1979

    Honors

    Top Rated Lawyer-AV® Preeminent™, Martindale-Hubbell

    Best Lawyers in America® distinction in Mass Tort Litigation/Class Actions-Defendants (2017-2021)

    “Best Lawyers” in the San Francisco Bay Area in Environmental and Toxic Tort Law, The Bay Area Magazine

    Super Lawyers® distinction in the fields of Environmental Litigation, Class Action/Mass Torts (2009-2018, 2020, Law & Politics)