Litigation and risk management practice focuses on product liability, toxic tort and environmental litigation, food contamination claims, and wrongful death and personal injury defense, including mass torts, class actions and multidistrict litigation.
Ms. Cunningham is co-head of the firm’s products liability and mass tort litigation practice group. She represents major corporate clients in all aspects of product liability, mass tort and toxic tort and environmental litigation, including successfully defending catastrophic injury and death claims; asbestos, benzene, formaldehyde, hydrogen sulfide, solvent and silica-related premises and product liability claims; large-scale environmental toxin and exposure claims, involving PFAS, PAHs, fluorides, coal combustion residuals and hexavalent chromium; and claims of bacterial contamination in food and beverage products. Ms. Cunningham also advises clients on legal issues related to COVID-19, including potential claims risk and mitigation, wrongful death, personal injury and nuisance claims defense strategies, and is actively defending companies in COVID-19 litigation. She also represents clients in general product liability and commercial litigation.
Ms. Cunningham is admitted to practice in Virginia, Georgia, New York and West Virginia, and before the federal courts in those jurisdictions and many others. She has appeared as trial counsel in state and federal courts around the country, and has led appeals to the Virginia, Kentucky, West Virginia and United States Supreme Courts. Ms. Cunningham has also led arbitrations before the International Chamber of Commerce and American Arbitration Association.
National coordinating counsel, national regional counsel, trial counsel and local counsel for several Fortune 100 and 500 companies in mass tort and toxic exposure litigation.
Provides strategic premarket and workplace litigation risk advice to product manufacturers and industrial employers, including guidance on potential risks of product or manufacturing operations or changes, regulatory compliance, investigations, litigation avoidance, and risk management and incident response for product failure, fatalities, crises or other catastrophic events, including COVID-19 fatalities or outbreaks.
Substantial experience in representing international companies in US-based litigation, including forum and jurisdictional-based defense strategies and international discovery.
Trial counsel in asbestos and mass tort cases around the country, including New York, California, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Virginia, where served as trial counsel for consolidated trial of 1,300 asbestos claims—the largest asbestos trial in Virginia history.
Led successful defense and won dismissal of a high-profile federal lawsuit involving allegations of unsafe COVID-19 working conditions brought against one of the largest meat processing companies in the United States.
Argued successful motion to dismiss on lack of legal duty in first “take home” asbestos exposure case filed in Arizona state court.
Trial counsel in environmental exposure and other matters, including jury trial involving allocation of environmental liabilities under asset purchase agreement in Illinois federal court. Case settled on favorable terms before verdict.
Led and argued multiple appeals before the Supreme Court of Virginia on tort and workplace exposure issues.
Argued successful plea in bar in Newport News Circuit Court on novel issue of Virginia law resulting in dismissal with prejudice of multimillion-dollar asbestos wrongful death claim.
Primary drafter of Virginia Supreme Court pleadings and petition for writ of certiorari filed in the United States Supreme Court challenging mass consolidation of asbestos cases.
Leadership Metro Richmond, Class of 2017
Member, American, Virginia and Georgia Bar Associations
Member, Defense Research Institute
Board of Directors, YMCA of Greater Richmond
Board of Directors, Virginia Early Childhood Foundation
General Counsel, Virginia Association of Independent Schools
Adjunct faculty member, University of Richmond School of Law, teaching “Appellate Advocacy”
Former managing partner, Hunton & Williams – Charlottesville Pro Bono Office, 2014-2019
Awards & Recognition
Recognized as a Leader in Litigation: Products Liability & Toxic Torts, Virginia, Chambers USA, 2020
“Influential Women of Law,” Virginia Lawyers Weekly (2020)
Listed for Product Liability, Mass Tort and Class Action: Toxic Tort – Defense, Legal 500: United States, 2019
“Rising Star” in Civil Litigation Defense, Virginia Super Lawyers (2008, 2009, 2011–2014). A description of the selection methodology can be found on Super Lawyers’ webpage.
“Best Lawyers,” Mass Tort Litigation/Class Actions, Defendants and Product Liability Litigation – Defendants, Best Lawyers in America (2016-2020). A description of the selection methodology can be found on Best Lawyers’ webpage.
“Top Peer Nominated Lawyer,” Women in the Law, Best Lawyers (2016-2019)
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