Thomas P. Bernier

Thomas P. Bernier

Partner

Office

Practice Groups

Thomas Bernier is chair of the Nanotechnology Practice Group — a subgroup of the Toxic Torts and Environmental Practice Group. He has more than three decades of experience successfully defending complex and high-profile civil and criminal cases in the state and federal courts throughout Maryland and Washington, D.C., and in other parts of the country.

He focuses his civil practice on the defense of toxic tort actions against companies in a wide range of industries, with particular concentration on claims alleging exposure to Legionella, asbestos, lead paint, carbon monoxide, and mold. Tom also has extensive experience defending personal injury, premises liability, and product liability. He is a frequent author and presenter on personal injury defense and other topics in his areas of concentration, with two seminars he developed being honored by the Maryland Institute for Continuing Professional Education of Lawyers (MICPEL) as “Best of MICPEL” seminars.

Further demonstrating his trial prowess and litigation capabilities, Tom has litigated hundreds of serious criminal cases over the past 30-plus years, including two capital cases. He is the author of Defending Allegations of Sexual Child Abuse in Maryland, an original treatise published in 2004 that highlights a subspecialty of his criminal practice and is used by the District Court of Maryland in the training of District Court Commissioners. Tom has been asked to testify before the House and Senate Judiciary Committees of the Maryland General Assembly on matters of criminal law and evidence, and he has counseled the writing staff of NBC’s Law and Order: Special Victims Unit on the perspective of a defense attorney in a sex crimes case and on technical accuracy of potential script ideas.

Highlights of his practice include:
  • Served as a member of defense trial team that secured a directed verdict predicated on the plaintiff’s assumption of risk for a manufacturer of sealing products in a wrongful death asbestos-related case. This significant victory followed nine days of trial in the Circuit Court of Maryland for Baltimore City
  • Obtained summary judgment in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia on behalf of a building owner who faced a lawsuit brought by a plaintiff claiming millions of dollars in personal injury damages as a result of contracting Legionnaire’s disease. The victory centered on the successful exclusion of the plaintiff’s expert witness, and the District of Columbia Court of Appeals affirmed the Superior Court’s decision.
  • Obtained a defense verdict after more than two years of litigation — culminating in an 11-day jury trial — in a case involving medical, scientific, and real estate issues relating to environmental contamination. Damages sought were more than $3 million.
  • Successfully argued for compulsory nonsuit, following two weeks of trial, in favor of a manufacturer of asbestos-containing gaskets in a product liability wrongful death lawsuit alleging asbestos-induced mesothelioma, tried in the Court of Common Pleas for Philadelphia County.
  • Working pro bono on the ABA “Death Penalty Project," obtained life-without-parole verdict in death penalty resentencing jury trial in Miller County, Arkansas as part of a three-lawyer defense team. 
  • Obtained a defense verdict in favor of manufacturer of maritime diesel engines in a product liability case alleging asbestos-induced lung cancer, tried in the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia County.
  • Obtained defense verdict in favor of a manufacturer of asbestos-containing gaskets in a products liability case alleging asbestos-induced mesothelioma, tried in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.
  • Obtained mistrial, following hung jury, on behalf of a boiler manufacturer in a product liability case alleging asbestos-induced mesothelioma, tried in the Superior Court of the State of Delaware.
  • Successfully argued for the reversal of a $1.3 million verdict against a manufacturer of asbestos-containing gaskets before the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland.
  • Obtained mistrial, following hung jury, on behalf of a client charged with federal conspiracy to harbor unlawful aliens and money laundering, tried in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland; the client was the only defendant not convicted following trial.
  • Co-tried the successful defense of a death penalty case.
Honors
  • Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Rating: AV Preeminent; Top-Rated Lawyer in Mass Torts (2014–16) and Insurance Law (2014–16) 
  • Expert Network Distinguished© Lawyer 
  • Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Maryland, American Academy of Trial Attorneys
  • The Best Lawyers in America, Product Liability Litigation: Defendants; Insurance Litigation, 2016–18
  • The Best Lawyers in America, Lawyer of the Year, Baltimore, Product Liability Litigation: Defendants, 2018
  • Maryland Super Lawyers, 2014–17
  • Selected for Rue Ratings’ “Best Attorneys of America”
  • Top 100 Litigation Lawyers in Maryland, American Society of Legal Advocates
Professional Affiliations
  • American Bar Association
  • Defense Research Institute
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • Maryland Defense Counsel, Inc.
  • Maryland State Bar Association
  • Baltimore County Bar Association
  • District of Columbia Bar Association
Community Involvement
  • Chief Hearing Officer, Baltimore Department of Human Resources Civil Service Commission
  • Peer Review Committee Member, Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland
  • Mentor, University of Baltimore School of Law Mentor Program
  • Running coach for 2012 Olympic pentathlon competitor
Admitted to Practice
  • Maryland
  • District of Columbia
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
Education
  • University of Baltimore School of Law, J.D., 1983
  • University of Notre Dame, B.A., 1980
Presentations/Publications
  • Co-Presenter, "Legal Risks Associated with Legionnaire's Disease and Waterborne HAIs," NALCO Legal Risks of Legionella and Waterborne Infections in Healthcare Facilities  Conference, Philadelphia, PA, November 9, 2017
  • Co-Author, “Nanotechnology: The Next Mass Tort?” ABA Mass Torts Litigation, August 15, 2017
  • Author, “New EPA Reporting Rule Requires Companies to Register Chemicals Containing Nanoscale Materials,” DRI Toxic Torts, June 9, 2017 
  • Panelist, "Game-Changing Asbestos Developments: This Past Year's Most Significant Verdicts and Decisions," Goldberg Segalla Toxic Torts and Environmental Law Seminar, May 23, 2017
  • Panelist, "What's Coming Now and in the Future: A Roundtable Chat on Emerging Issues in Talc, Nanotechnology, and Marijuana," Goldberg Segalla Toxic Torts and Environmental Law Seminar, May 23, 2017
  • Presenter, "Emerging Risks – New and Evolving, Nanotechnology," ARIAS U.S. Spring Conference, Naples, FL, May 3, 2017
  • Presenter,  "Legal Risks Associated with Legionnaire's Disease and Waterborne Associated Infections," Legionnaire's Disease and Waterborne Associated Infections: Strategies to Reduce Risk, Baltimore, MD, April 20, 2017
  • Co-Author, “The Standard of Care Defense in Emerging Toxic Tort Claims,” DRI Toxic Tort and Environmental Law Compendium, Spring 2017
  • Co-Presenter, "Defending Foodborne Illness Claims," Client presentation, Dover, NH, March 21, 2017
  • Quoted in “Litigation Trend Could Snag Utilities,” American Water Works Association, January 3, 2017 
  • Co-Presenter, "Emerging Legal Issues: A Lead and Legionella Trend," American Water Works Association, December 15, 2016
  • Co-Presenter, "Legionnaires’ Disease: Legal Risks and Claims Management Strategies," Toxic Tort/Environmental Scouting Report Seminar, Chicago, IL, October 18, 2016
  • Presenter, "The 'Low Dose' Defense in Asbestos-Induced Mesothelioma Cases," Toxic Tort/Environmental Scouting Report Seminar, Chicago, IL, October 18, 2016
  • Co-Presenter, "Legal Challenges of Legionella," Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University's From Watersheds to Shower Heads: A Workshop on Legionella Research and Policy, Atlanta, May 26, 2016
  • Presenter, "Legionella and Other Waterborne Pathogens: Recognition, Evaluation, and Control," American Industrial Hygiene Conference & Exposition (AIHce), Baltimore, MD, May 21, 2016
  • Co-Author, “What General Counsel Should Know About Legionnaires’ Disease,” Today’s General Counsel, October 2015
  • Panelist, “Recognition, Evaluation, and Control of Legionella in Building Water Systems,”  American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition (AIHce), Salt Lake City, UT, June 3, 2015
  • Presenter, “Risk Management, Liability, and Coverage Concerns Arising From Emerging and Resurgent Pathogens Such as Ebola, Enterovirus D68, CRE, and Measles,” Environmental and Emerging Claim Manager Association Annual Meeting, Orlando, FL, April 29 to May 1, 2015
  • Co-Author, “Sound the Alarm: Containing the Increasing Incidence of High Demands in Low-Exposure Carbon Monoxide Claims,” Claims Management, October 14, 2014
  • Presenter, “Legionnaires’ Disease: A Critical Update at a Critical Moment,” Emerging and Environmental Claims Managers Association, Captiva Island, FL, April 30 to May 2, 2014
  • Co-Author, “The Standard of Care Defense in Emerging Toxic Tort Claims,” DRI For the Defense, April 2014
  • Presenter, “The Preparation and Trial of a Personal Injury Case,” Maryland State Bar Association, January 23 and 30, 2014
  • Co-Author, “Legionnaires’ Disease and Premises Liability,” Claims Management, June 12, 2013
  • Presenter, “The Low Dose Defense in Asbestos-Induced Mesothelioma Cases,” The Emerging and Environmental Claims Managers Association (EECMA) 2013 Conference and Meeting, Captiva Island, FL, May 3, 2013
  • Presenter, “Legionnaires’ Disease: Emerging Trends,” WCD Group, New York, NY, February 21, 2013
  • Co-Author, “When Man’s Best Friend Bites,” Claims Management, November 2, 2012
  • Panelist, “Perspectives on Using Strict Liability to Reduce Dog Bites in Maryland,” Maryland State Bar Association Annual Fall Dinner, Sheraton Columbia Town Center, Columbia, MD, September 27, 2012
  • Presenter, “Legionella Roundtable,” Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) Baltimore Chapter Education Program, Baltimore, MD, June 14, 2012
  • Presenter, “Legionnaires’ Disease: Alive and Well,” Emerging and Environmental Claims Managers Association (EECMA) 2012 Conference and Meeting, Captiva Island, FL, May 4, 2012
  • Author, “New ASHRAE Standard Dictates Legionnaires’ Disease Prevention,” Indoor Environment Connection, May 2, 2012
  • Presenter, “Defenses in Sexual Offenses and Child Abuse Cases,” Felony Division of the Baltimore City Office of the Public Defender, April 18, 2012
  • Presenter, “Asbestos Trial Program,” Perrin Conferences Mock Trial, Wausau, WI, January 23, 2012
  • Faculty Member, “Deposition Practice and Procedure,” Maryland State Bar Association CLE, December 15, 2011
  • Presenter, “When Your Custody Case Becomes Criminal,” Maryland State Bar Association Annual Meeting, Ocean City, MD, June 15, 2007
  • Presenter, “When Your Custody Case Becomes Criminal,” Joint Meeting of the Criminal and Family Law Sections of the Baltimore County Bar Association, October 2006