Erik K. Swanholt

Partner

With more than 25 years of experience as an adviser, litigator and trial lawyer for Fortune 500 companies and start-ups alike, Erik Swanholt has a broad range of experience spanning multiple disciplines. Erik’s primary focus, however, is on advising and representing manufacturers, distributors, and retailers of consumer and industrial products in all areas of their business.

Consumer Product Safety Practice – One significant part of Erik’s practice is to assist companies with developing best practices for their products. From advising on good manufacturing practices, regulatory compliance programs, and supply chain protocols, to developing compliant marketing plans and labeling strategies, Erik works with companies looking to get to market with new products, or those looking to improve existing practices for products that have been on the market for years. Erik has extensive experience working with testing labs and regulators (including the Consumer Products Safety Commission (“CPSC”), FDA, FTC, OEHHA, CARB, Health Canada and others) to certify or demonstrate regulatory compliance. In this capacity, Erik has led a number of companies through global and U.S. product recalls and countless remediation plans when recall is not necessary.

Consumer Product Litigation – The other significant part of Erik’s practice is to represent and defend companies in class action and mass litigation or government/regulatory compliance issues relating to their products, including products liability, consumer class action, toxic torts, personal injury, antitrust, contract actions, and regulatory investigations. He has successfully defended businesses sued in state and federal court under myriad statutory schemes, including California’s Unfair Competition Laws (UCL), the Consumer Legal Remedies Act (CLRA), the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), the Electronic Funds Transfer Act (EFTA) and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), to name a few.

Consistent with his consumer product and products liability experience, Erik is also expert in the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (“PREP”) Act. He has advised numerous clients and written and spoken on the subject many times, including to the House Manufacturing Caucus of the U.S. House of Representatives in late 2019 relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Erik’s experience crosses nearly every industry including, electronics, safety equipment, food, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, vehicles, aircraft, chemicals, industrial machinery, fashion, financial instruments, home appliances, furniture, silica, asbestos and more.

Representative Experience*

  • Represented multiple toy manufacturers and defeated plaintiffs’ motion for class certification of dozens of consumer protection claims under the laws of several different states pending simultaneously in the Northern District of Alabama and the Central District of California.
  • Represented a home appliances manufacturer and reached a claims-made settlement in a class action lawsuit brought by purchasers of certain front-load washing machines, who alleged that the machines were defective.
  • Represented an appliances manufacturer in a series of lawsuits relating to alleged product defect and liability issues with products installed in residential and commercial buildings across the U.S.
  • Successfully led nationwide litigation and defense of product liability cases and claims involving hundreds of claims filed across the country against off-road vehicles.
  • Represented a fiber optic-based products manufacturer and certain of its directors, officers, and employees, in a shareholder action brought in Los Angeles County Superior Court alleging that they made materially misleading statements regarding their business, prospects, and the departure of its chief executive officer.
  • Represented manufacturer of industrial equipment used in mines relating to claims that the equipment had been improperly installed in numerous geographic locations.
  • Defended one of the world’s leading fruit companies in multiple toxic tort lawsuits brought by agricultural workers from 13 countries claiming that the use of a certain pesticide on banana farms in Latin America, Africa, and the Philippines during the 1970s caused adverse health effects.
  • Represented various food and product packaging companies against claims of false advertising, improper labeling (e.g., “all natural”) and slack-fill violations.
  • Represented one of the world’s leading food and beverage companies in connection with antitrust litigation claiming violation of the California Unfair Trade Practices Act and Unfair Competition Act in conjunction with the pricing of vending products.
  • Represented manufacturer with respect to claims that factory equipment installed across the country had inadequate warnings and training materials.
  • Represented insurance carrier in multijurisdictional dispute with respect to various claims made relating to denial of COVID-19 coverage.
  • Represented a pharmaceutical company in a unique products liability matter relating to their $4 billion a year pharmaceutical product and won the summary judgment.
  • Represented a health plan company in an arbitration concerning a contract dispute over termination of a jointly held Medicare health plan and in turn recovered millions of dollars.
  • Successfully defended a group of respirator manufacturers in product liability litigation brought by over 50 plaintiffs who had worked at diatomaceous earth mines in California.
  • Resolved a multijurisdictional dispute against contractor hired to convert pharmaceutical plant in Spain.
  • Represented a pharmaceutical company relating to claims of product and design defect as well as failure to warn regarding effects and efficacy of a pharmaceutical product.
  • Represented a large school district in resolving a $5 million dispute by general contractor and subcontractors over work to improve a school district’s air conditioning systems.
  • Represented three families defrauded by a company and its agents after seeking assistance with home loan modifications and judgment was obtained against company and individuals involved in foreclosure consultant fraud.
  • Represented an individual, who was evicted from his family home after seeking help to satisfy a $6,000 tax bill.

*Certain of these matters were handled prior to joining Foley.

Awards and Recognition

  • Selected for inclusion to the Southern California Super Lawyers list in the area of Business Litigation (2009 – 2016)
  • Recognized by The Legal 500 in the field of Product Liability and Mass Tort Defense: Consumer Products (2015)

Affiliations

  • He serves on the Board of Governors for the Association of Business Trial Lawyers.

Community Involvement

  • Erik is a volunteer and frequent pro bono lawyer for Bet Tzedek and Public Counsel. He received the California State Bar’s Wiley W. Manuel Award for Pro Bono Services every year from 2005 – 2012. He has served as a volunteer assistant district attorney conducting trials for the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office.

Presentations and Publications

06 February 2024 Manufacturing Industry Advisor

Proposed Consumer Advocacy and Protection Act Could Remove the Cap on Civil Penalties the Consumer Product Safety Commission Can Impose

On January 25, 2024, Representative Jan Schakowsky and Senator Peter Welch introduced legislation to bolster the enforcement tools available to the Consumer Product Safety Commission for deterring violations of the Consumer Product Safety Act.
31 January 2024 Consumer Class Defense Counsel

A Spark in Regulation: Lithium-ion Batteries

Lithium-ion batteries are the energy source for many consumer products, including electric bicycles and scooters.
16 January 2024 Press Releases

Foley’s Los Angeles Office Hosts Street Law Program in Partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs

Foley & Lardner LLP’s Los Angeles office recently partnered with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Los Angeles in South Central and the Los Angeles Boys & Girls Club in Lincoln Heights for a second Street Law program.
13 December 2023 Manufacturing Industry Advisor

Lying Is More Expensive than Telling the Truth — First Criminal Jury Trial of Executives Who Knowingly and Willfully Violated the Consumer Product Safety Act

On November 16, 2023, a federal jury in Los Angeles returned guilty verdicts against two corporate executives of a consumer product distributor for conspiracy to defraud the United States by obstructing the lawful functions of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
05 December 2023 Article

Proposed Amendments to the Proposition 65 Regulatory Landscape – Changes to Clear and Reasonable Warnings and Safe Harbor Methods under Article 6

Last month, the California OEHHA issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Announcement of Public Hearing concerning proposed changes to existing sections of the safe harbor warning regulations for consumer products exposures.
14 November 2023 Article

EPA Seeks Comment on Its Sweeping Proposal to Ban Manufacture and Commercial and Industrial Use of Trichloroethylene (TCE)

On October 31, 2023, the EPA published a proposed rule in the Federal Register pursuant to its authority under the Toxic Substances Control Act that would effectively ban trichloroethylene for all commercial and industrial uses.