Owen, Gleaton, Egan, Jones & Sweeney, LLP

1180 Peachtree Street, N.E., Suite 3000 Atlanta, Georgia 30309
404.688.2600

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Philippa V. Ellis

Partner

Philippa Ellis is an original partner of the firm.  She has extensive trial experience as first chair, defending high stakes tort, product, commercial and insurance litigation.  She leads the firm’s product liability team and has handled matters in federal and state courts, at the trial and appellate levels, and before administrative agencies.  One of her jury trials served to clarify the extent of the Georgia trial court’s discretion in determining whether the requisite standard has been met for scientific reliability and methodology challenges for an expert witness’s testing procedure.  She is regional counsel for industrial equipment, mining equipment and automotive manufacturers, and is a member of the national trial team for a Fortune 500 corporation’s asbestos trials.  She credits her undergraduate business education degree as one of the most beneficial assets she takes into the courtroom as she is entrusted with teaching jurors complex concepts in an understandable manner.  Philippa is the “go to” trusted adviser for corporations, business owners and individuals who find themselves embroiled in litigation and governmental investigations.

Philippa has been a frequent speaker on various product liability and trial strategy topics.  She enjoys mentoring lawyers who wish to hone their skills as trial lawyers or as litigation strategists.  Her vast first chair jury trial expertise is shared with younger lawyers from across the nation when she serves as faculty for national trial academies. She is a returning instructor for the ABA-ABOTA Trial Academy, held annually in Reno, Nevada, the National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA) Georgia Deposition Skills Program, and the Georgia Defense Lawyers Association’s Trial and Mediation Academy. She has also served on the faculty of IADC’s national trial academy at Stanford University.

Education

  • University of Oklahoma College of Law, J.D., 1988
    • American Jurisprudence Award
    • Phi Delta Phi, International Legal Honor Society
    • Black Law Student Association
  • Oxford University Study Abroad Summer Program, Queens College, 1986
  • Langston University B.S., Magna Cum Laude, 1985
    • Kappa Delta Pi, International Honor Society in Education
    • Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Admissions

  • Oklahoma, 1988
  • Georgia, 1993
  • Illinois, 1998
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, Northern and Middle Districts of Georgia
  • U.S. District Court, Northern and Western Districts of Oklahoma
  • Georgia Supreme Court
  • Georgia Court of Appeals

Professional or Trade Affiliations/Memberships

  • American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), Associate Member
  • Product Liability Advisory Council (PLAC), Sustaining Member
  • International Association of Defense Counsel (IADC)
  • Defense Research Institute (DRI)
  • Litigation Counsel of America, Fellow
  • Industrial Truck Association (ITA), Lawyers Committee
  • Georgia Defense Lawyers Association
  • Claims & Litigation Management Alliance
  • National Bar Association (NBA), Commercial Law Section
  • American Bar Association (ABA)
    • Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section
    • Litigation Section
    • Business Law Section
  • State Bar of Georgia
  • Lawyers Club of Atlanta, Inc.
  • Gate City Bar Association
  • Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys
  • Atlanta Bar Association
  • Leadership Institute for Women of Color Attorneys
    • Co-Vice President & Board of Trustees
  • Old Warhorse Lawyers Club, Inc.
  • Georgia Chamber of Commerce

Honors & Awards

  • Best Lawyers in America® distinction in Product Liability Litigation - Defendants
  • AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated, Martindale-Hubbell
  • Georgia Super Lawyers - Product Liability
  • Georgia Super Lawyers - “The Top 50 Women” List
  • Georgia Super Lawyers – Corporate Counsel Edition

Speaking Engagements

  • “We Can Work It Out:  Judges and Lawyers Taking the Relationship Into the New Millennium,” Atlanta Bar Association, Atlanta, January 2000.
  • “Law Firm Economics:  Managing Law Firm Economics Without Sacrificing Quality of Client Service, Tips for Controlling Overhead and Operating Costs, Alternatives to Traditional Staffing Practices, Checklists for Maintaining the Bottom Line,” Institute of Continuing Legal Education, Atlanta, April 1999, April 2000, April 2001.
  • “Corporate Liability:  How the Paper Trail Can Determine Whether You Sink or Swim,” ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession Spring Meeting, Tampa, April 2001.
  • “Rainmaking (Client Development),” Institute of Continuing Legal Education (ICLE), Atlanta, April 2002.
  • “Cross Examining the Sympathetic Plaintiff,” DRI Young Lawyers Division Annual Conference, Orlando, June 2008.
  • “Evidence & Discovery (Paper and ESI):  Ensuring That Neither Overwhelms the Defense’s Case on the Merits,” American Conference Institute (ACI) Product Liability Conference, Chicago, October 2008.
  • “Litigation Testing -- How the Failure to Prepare for a Daubert Challenge Can Sink Your Case,” DRI Product Liability Conference, Specialized Litigation Group (SLG) Workshop, San Diego, April 2009.
  • “Ground Hog Day:  Are You Repeating the Same Old Unsuccessful Business Development Scenarios Over and Over Again?” ABA Section of Litigation Annual Conference, Atlanta, April 2009.
  • “Preemption in Product Liability Litigation,” ABA Section of Litigation Annual Conference, Atlanta, May 2009.
  • “Top Gun Defense Strategies for Defending the Failure to Recall Claim at Trial,” DRI Strictly Automotive Seminar, San Diego, September 2009.
  • "Federal Preemption in the Wake of Wyeth v. Levine," DRI Product Liability Conference, Agriculture, Construction, Mechanical, Industrial Equipment SLG Workshop, Las Vegas, April 2010.
  • "Preparing and Defending Daubert/Frye Challenges," ACI Automotive Product Liability Litigation Conference, Chicago, November 2009.
  • ”Tackling the Preemption Issue: Examining the Current Viability of the Defense in Auto Product Liability Cases,” ACI Automotive Product Liability Litigation Conference, Chicago, September 2010.
  • “Business Development from the Partners’ Perspective,” State Bar of Georgia Diversity Program, Atlanta, February 2011.
  • “Considerations of Similar Accidents/Events in Product Safety,” DRI Product Liability Conference, New Orleans, April 2011.
  • “Other Incidents:  Defense Strategies,” DRI Product Liability Conference, Automobile Product Liability SLG Workshop, New Orleans, April 2011.
  • “Oral Advocacy: Giving Your Best Presentation, From the Boardroom to the Courtroom,” NBA Mid-Winter Meeting, Saint Maarten, January 2012.  
  • “Opening Statements for Defendants,” Institute for Continuing Legal Education, Atlanta, September 2012.
  • “Tips for Litigators, from a Defense Attorney’s Perspective,” Gate City Bar Association, Atlanta, October 2012.
  • “Becoming the Trusted Advisor,” Hispanic National Bar Association, Atlanta, March 2013.
  • “Avoiding Surprises at Trial,” Gate City Bar Association Masters in Trial Seminar Series, Atlanta, March 2014.
  • “The Ultimate Battlefield: Attack On Your Brand During Litigation and Trial - Strategies and Tactics for Defense and Counter Attack,” IADC Corporate Counsel College, Chicago, April 2015.
  • “The Key to Becoming A Trusted Adviser For Product Manufacturers: The Insiders' View,” ABA Section of Litigation Conference, Chicago, November 2015.
  • “The Jury Trial: Battlefield Strategies for a Successful Outcome,” Georgia Defense Lawyers Association, Amelia Island, June 2016.
  • “Witness Management – Direct & Cross,” Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys - Trial Masters Boot Camp, Atlanta, August 2016.

Representative Experience

  • Assisted automotive and industrial equipment manufacturing clients with strategic decisions and successfully defending product liability and commercial litigation in jury trials as first chair.
  • Defended asbestos litigation and handled crisis management as regional counsel for material handling equipment and automotive product manufacturers.
  • Provided advice and counsel to publicly-traded and privately-held companies.
  • Served as trial counsel defending litigation in Georgia for mining and material handling equipment manufacturers.
  • Defended business entities targeted in state and federal audits and investigations.
  • Defended complex and high stakes insurance defense, product liability, commercial, and warranty litigation in the courtroom and in ADR forums.
  • Served as outside general counsel for various businesses providing legal advice and counsel on matters including litigation, contracts, governance, insurance, employee retention and termination, implementing reductions in force, employment disputes, and dealer and distributor agreements and disputes.
  • Handled pre-litigation OSHA, MSHA, NTSB and local law enforcement accident site investigations involving clients’ products and facilities.
  • Served as national counsel for international synthetic stucco manufacturer, which entailed hiring, managing and monitoring litigation counsel across the United States and communicating with insurers regarding insurance coverage issues.
  • Assisted clients with addressing legal issues specific to manufacturing plant safety issues and vendor/supplier quality control protocols.
  • Defended warranty and consumer litigation for automotive manufacturer as Georgia counsel, including handling jury trials as first chair.