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Paul E. Benson

By: WISCONSIN LAW JOURNAL STAFF//March 8, 2010//

Paul E. Benson

By: WISCONSIN LAW JOURNAL STAFF//March 8, 2010//

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Paul Benson, the Chair of the Litigation Practice Group at Michael Best & Friedrich, says litigation is all he ever wanted to do. And he has done a lot of it, spending his entire career there.

In addition to leading the group of 65-70 attorneys at the firm, he is also the co-chair of the firm’s Product Liability and Tort Liability Litigation Focus Group, chair of the firm’s Life, Health and Disability Litigation Focus Group, and a member of the firm’s Intellectual Property Litigation Special Practice Group.

After a career of litigation involving product liability, personal injury, general commercial disputes, toxic torts, intellectual property and insurance, he now exclusively handles class actions and complex litigation. His practice involves a great deal of multi-district litigation, as well as mass torts, Fair Labor Standards Act cases, and drug and device litigation.

Federal preemption of state law in tort actions involving drugs and medical devices has been a major issue in recent years, and will likely remain one with respect to devices, Benson says.

In pharmaceutical cases, however, the major issue remains the basic element of causation — a fact-intensive inquiry, when a patient suffers an injury that is a known side effect of the drug, to decide whether or not the drug actually caused the damages claimed by the plaintiff.

Benson also participated in a somewhat successful argument before the Wisconsin Supreme Court in a case dealing with an issue significant to all litigators — conflicts between state rules of civil procedure and local court rules. In Hefty v. Strickhouser, 2008 WI 96 (2008), the court agreed that a trial judge cannot simply attach a local rule to a scheduling order, without explanation, to override the rules provided in the statutes.

He also wrote an amicus curiae brief in an antitrust action before the Supreme Court, on behalf of the Milwaukee Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, concerning when the state’s antitrust laws can be applied to interstate commerce.

Benson is also actively involved, along with his wife and three children, doing outreach and charity through Fox Point Lutheran Church, activities he attributes to making him a better person.

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