Susan E. Smith

Susan E. Smith



Practice Groups

Susan Smith, vice chair of the firm’s Toxic Tort practice, is a seasoned litigator with nearly 20 years of experience who defends clients in various industries against claims alleging personal injury as a result of Legionnaires’ disease, chemical burns and inhalation, carbon monoxide poisoning, and exposure to lead, formaldehyde, mold, and other potentially harmful substances. Susan has developed and maintains a deep understanding of traumatic brain injury — including concussion and post-concussive syndrome — as a result of her experience defending claims of brain injury due to accidents or chemical/toxic exposures, and uses this knowledge to her clients’ advantage in responding to lawsuits and crafting legal strategies.

Susan also defends a wide variety of liability claims related to automobile and other accidents, and alleged defective products. She regularly defends subcontractors against a variety of construction defect claims, including those involving allegedly defective waterproofing, site protection, window installation, and the installation of mechanical equipment. In addition, she has extensive experience advising on related insurance coverage issues. Susan is a sought-after speaker and writer on topics relating to her legal practice.

In the arena of environmental contamination litigation, Susan has extensive experience handling the defense of claims, counseling on environmental regulatory matters, advocating for companies before regulatory authorities and in investigations, and guiding clients through incident response and cleanup with a focus on minimizing the threat or impact of future litigation. She has a proven track record of obtaining successful results for property owners and environmental engineering and consulting firms in a wide range of matters, throughout Maryland and in other states, relating to soil and water contamination involving residential, commercial, and industrial properties. 

Susan is often able to win summary judgment for clients in difficult cases. In one matter, Susan obtained summary judgment for a building owner who was facing a lawsuit where the plaintiff claimed millions of dollars in personal injury damages as a result of an infection with Legionnaires’ disease. Her strategy, which was to challenge the scientific validity and admissibility of the source and causation opinions of the plaintiff’s expert witness, was successful, and the District of Columbia Court of Appeals upheld the district court’s decision. In a similar case, Susan was able to win summary judgment for a client in a lead paint case, where the plaintiff claimed exposure to the substance during visits to the defendant’s residence.

Other practice highlights include:
  • Obtained a defense verdict after 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.
  • Favorably resolved multiple wrongful death and personal injury claims against a property manager stemming from a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at a senior housing project.
  • Identified and developed a successful challenge to plaintiffs’ experts in a product liability case alleging personal injury from mold and formaldehyde exposure in a recreational vehicle, which resulted in a favorable settlement.
  • Won dismissal of claims against a commercial food establishment in a case involving 23 plaintiffs and their exposure to carbon monoxide, which resulted in permanent brain damage.
  • Defended a national bank in a bystander exposure asbestos case, resulting in favorable resolution.
  • Obtained a defense verdict for an insulation contractor in an asbestos case involving a plaintiff with mesothelioma and lung cancer.
  • Defended a distributor of industrial safety supplies in a 25-plaintiff case alleging silica and asbestos exposure.
Professional Affiliations
  • Maryland Defense Counsel, Inc.: Chair, Lead Paint Committee, 2015; Board Member and Co-Chair, Negligence and Insurance Committee, 2008; Co-Founder and Co-Chair, task force on first-party bad faith litigation, 2007
  • Claims and Litigation Management Alliance; Co-Chair, Maryland/DC local chapter, 2012–14
  • Defense Research Institute 
Admitted to Practice
  • Pennsylvania 
  • Maryland 
  • Court of Appeals of Maryland 
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland 
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit 
  • Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia 
Community Involvement
  • Project Clean Stream: site captain, 2006 to present
  • Village Learning Place; Board Member, 2006–07
  • Lewis & Clark College, Northwestern School of Law, J.D., 1997
  • University of California, Santa Cruz, B.A., with honors, 1993
Publications and Presentations
  • Co-Presenter, "What's in the Water? Understanding Toxic Tort Litigation Arising From Water-borne Pathogens," DRI Toxic Tort & Environmental Law Conference, March 1, 2018
  • 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
  • Author, “New CMS Policy on Water Management Signals Caution for Independent, Assisted Living,” McKnight’s Senior Living, October 23, 2017
  • Co-Author, "At Risk: Our Nation's Drinking Water Supply," Mealey's Emerging Toxic Torts, October 17, 2017
  • Co-Presenter, "Jurors in the Millennial Age: Insurer Concerns and Strategies for Managing Claims," October 12, 2017
  • Co-Presenter, "Uncharted Waters: Keys to Navigate Risks and Defend Lawsuits that Arise from Contamination in our Nation's Drinking Water Supply," Goldberg Segalla Toxic Torts and Environmental Law Seminar, May 23, 2017
  • Presenter, "Get the Lead Out! Proactive Risk Measures in Response to America’s Environmental Crisis" EECMA Annual Conference, Orlando, FL, April 27, 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
  • Panelist, "Get the Lead Out! Proactive Risk Measures in Response to America’s Environmental Crisis," EECMA Annual Conference, Orlando, FL, April 27, 2017
  • Presenter, "Lead Contamination of the U.S. Drinking Water Supply: A Critical Update at a Critical Moment," AEHS Soil, Water, Energy, and Air Conference, San Diego, CA, March 22, 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, "Emerging Risk Challenges Facing the Insurance Industry," Toxic Tort/Environmental Scouting Report Seminar, Chicago, IL, October 18, 2016
  • Presenter, "Public Assets: Risks, Rewards, and Reducing Environmental Liabilities," CLM's Municipal Law Conference, Boston, July 14, 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