Jack B. McCowan Jr.
- Drug & Medical Device
- Product & General Liability
- Commercial Litigation
- Unfair Competition
- Environmental/Toxic Tort
Jack “Skip” McCowan is a partner in the San Francisco office. He has been with the firm since 1979. In 2012, he was singled out by Who's Who Legal International as a "Most Highly Regarded Individual" in Product Liability Defense, a recognition awarded to just 10 attorneys worldwide for outstanding achievement in their respective practice areas.
Mr. McCowan is a member of the Drug and Medical Device, Environmental/Toxic Tort, and Commercial Litigation practice groups. His practice is equally divided between drug, medical device and other product liability litigation, environmental litigation, and commercial litigation, including matters involving trade secrets and unfair business practices.
He has represented a wide variety of companies in trials in federal and state courts throughout the State of California, as well as other states. Mr. McCowan is currently the immediate past chair of DRI's Center for Law and Public Policy. He is an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, where he teaches a course in civil litigation.
Examples or Mr. McCowan's extensive experience includes the following:
Represented the manufacturer of silicone gel breast implants in more than 3,500 product liability cases coordinated in the Superior Court of California, County of San Diego (In Re: Coordinated Breast Implant Litigation, JCCP-2754). Acted as defense liaison counsel for all manufacturers and regional trial counsel for Dow Corning Corporation in the litigation and tried the first case set for trial before the coordination judge.
Represented the manufacturer of latex gloves as California trial counsel in cases in the multi-district litigation venued in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (MDL No. 1148).
Achieved an appellate victory in a product liability case when the Court of Appeal of California, Second Appellate District, Division One affirmed a trial court dismissal via summary judgment in favor of the manufacturer of silicone gel breast implants. (Sybil Niden Goldrich v. Natural Y Surgical Specialties, Inc. et. al, 25 Cal.App. 4th 772 (1994)) Dow Corning Corporation, the manufacturer of the implants, obtained dismissal based on the statute of limitations. The case has been often cited on the subject of the accrual of the cause of action.
Obtained one of the first summary judgments on the issue of federal preemption in a medical device case following the issuance of the Supreme Court’s decision in Reigel v. Medtronic, Inc. (Vivas v. Edwards Lifesciences LLC, Superior Court of California, County of San Francisco, Case No. CGC-07-467784).
Obtained a defense verdict in a case in which the plaintiff, a wholesale bakery company, sued another bakery company claiming the defendant was liable for state anti-trust violations, theft of trade secrets and trade dress and unfair competition in which the plaintiff asked the jury for $30,000,000 in damages. (Pensabene International, Inc. v. Paramark Enterprises, Inc., Superior Court of California, County of Marin, Case No. 006365)
Selected as trial counsel by the manufacturer of a diet drug medication (fenfluramine) in cases pending in state and federal courts in California, Iowa and Pennsylvania. Participated in the identification, selection and retention of world-renowned scientific experts on a key causation issue in the litigation. (In Re: Diet Drugs (MDL 1203))
Retained by the manufacturer of the drug phenylpropanolamine to identify, select and work with experts in a variety of scientific disciplines from around the world on issues of causation. (In Re: Phenylpropanolamine Products Liability Litigation (MDL 1407 )(PPA) )
In four separate cases set for trial in 2009 for the same client, two involving claims of product defect in the design of circular saws and two involving plaintiffs suing the manufacturer of brake products allegedly responsible for plaintiffs’ mesothelioma, obtained dismissals of each of the cases on the eve of trial without the payment of any money to the plaintiffs.
Publications & Presentations
"Many to Thank for the Year’s Accomplishments," For The Defense (August 2011)
“What Every Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Company Should Know: False Claims Act Cases Based on Off-Label Promotion Promise to Increase with the Healthcare Act and the Bad Ad Program,” co-author, IADC’s Defense Counsel Journal (July 2011)
"Name-Brand Manufacturers Liable for Ingestion of Generic Products?: An Analysis of The Nation’s Response to California’s Conte v. Wyeth Decision," IADC Drug, Device and Biotechnology Committee Newsletter (February 2010)
“One Less Arrow in the Quiver … Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Prohibits the Use of Implied Preemption to Show Fraudulent Joinder,” IADC Product Liability Committee Newsletter (November 2009)
Mr. McCowan regularly presents subjects dealing with trial practice and substantive law at national seminars offered by the International Association of Defense Counsel, DRI, the American Conference Institute, and the Food and Drug Law Institute.
California Supreme Court
U.S. District Courts, California
Immediate Past Chair of the DRI Center for Law and Public Policy
Chair of the DRI Center for Law and Public Policy (2015-2016)
Member of the Board of Directors of DRI - The Voice of the Defense Bar (2012-2015)
Past Vice-Chair of the DRI Center for Law and Public Policy (2013-2015)
DRI, Past Chair of the Drug & Medical Device Committee and member of the Drug & Medical Device Steering Committee. The Drug & Medical Device Committee presents a number of continuing legal education programs for attorneys, both in-house and outside counsel, including an annual seminar at which more than 900 lawyers attend, a seminar/workshop for young lawyers and web conferences dealing with important substantive law issues and trial practice pointers dealing with pharmaceutical and medical device litigation.
Active in Lawyers for Civil Justice since 1992, having appeared before the Advisory Rules Committee of the Judicial Conference on three occasions to provide the committee with evidence relevant to changes in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure dealing with discovery and class actions.
Past member of the Development Committee of the National Foundation for Judicial Excellence
International Association of Defense Counsel, member of the Executive Committee (1999-2001)
Northern California Association of Defense Counsel, Board of Directors (1985-1987)
Selected and participated as a member of the International Association of Defense Counsel Trial Academy in 1992
Past president of the Rotary Club of Lamorinda Sunrise
Volunteer team leader for Common Hope in Guatemala
J.D., University of California, Hastings College of the Law, 1974
B.A., high honors, University of California, Santa Barbara 1970
Study Abroad, University of Madrid, 1968-69
Top Rated - AV® Preeminent™ Lawyers in Mass Tort Litigation
Top Rated Lawyer-AV® Preeminent™,
Who's Who Legal International: Product Liability Defense Lawyers (2007-2012)
Who’s Who Legal California: Product Liability Defense Lawyers (2007-2010) “...focuses on products litigation and has acted as regional coordinating counsel for major medical device manufacturers...”
Best Lawyers in America® "Lawyer of the Year" distinction in Product Liability Litigation - Defendants (2016 and 2019)
Best Lawyers in America® distinction in Product Liability Litigation - Defendants (2012-2020)
Super Lawyers® distinction in the fields of Personal Injury Defense: Products; Business Litigation; and Personal Injury Defense: General (2006, 2007, 2009-2019 Law & Politics)
Expert Guide to U.S. Product Liability Lawyers, The Legal Media Group