Beatrice O'Donnell


  • Beatrice O'Donnell
  • Phone: +1 215 979 1113
    Fax: +1 215 689 3618

    Beatrice O'Donnell - LinkedIn Import to Address Book

  • Duane Morris LLP
    30 South 17th Street
    Philadelphia, PA 19103-4196

Beatrice O'Donnell has tried to verdict more than 90 major civil jury trials in both the state and federal courts and has experience in handling hundreds of arbitration and mediations. Her practice focuses on problem solving, managing risk, and trying the most challenging cases for her clients. Her active trial practice focuses on health effects litigation including injuries from a wide variety of industrial products, mass and toxic torts involving exposures to pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and most recently claims of injury related to nuclear exposures. Ms. O'Donnell served as coordinating counsel in mass tort litigation for multiple clients in the areas of asbestos, pharmaceuticals and food supplements. Her products liability experience encompasses a wide range of products, including pharmaceuticals, medical devices, tires, multi-piece rims, helicopters, automobiles and chemicals. Whether handled as individual cases or in the mass tort context, Ms. O'Donnell has a wide breadth of experience in developing complex medical and scientific defenses and has the ability to communicate those concepts effectively to fact-finders. Ms. O'Donnell has served on the national motion practice team for both Ford Motor Company and General Motors asbestos litigation.

Ms. O'Donnell has defended nuclear related facilities against both property damage and alleged radiation injury claims and has defended nearly 100 personal injury and property damage matters in both the state and federal courts that involve the use, storage and transportation of ultra-hazardous materials. Her litigation experience also encompasses commercial and healthcare-related litigation. Throughout her career, Ms. O'Donnell has defended physicians, midwives, nurses, hospitals, birth centers and nursing homes in medical malpractice, fraud and abuse and HIPAA-related litigation. In addition, her practice has included the defense of patents and other commercial interests related to the healthcare field. Due to the breadth of her experience and practical approach to problem solving, Ms. O'Donnell has been asked to counsel companies with respect to a wide range of risk management issues such as e-discovery, records retention and coordinated national defense strategy.

Ms. O'Donnell is in the leadership of the Litigation section of the American Bar Association. She serves as co-director for the Section of Litigation Division VI for 2016-2017. She is currently the ABA Woman Advocate co-chair and past co-chair of the ABA Mass Torts Committee. Ms. O'Donnell has also served as the Section of Litigation liaison to the ABA Committee on Medical Professional Liability. In 2009, she was recognized as Outstanding Subcommittee Chair for her work with the Women Advocate Committee. She is a two-term past co-chair of the Pennsylvania Bar Association's Commission on Women in the Profession. Ms. O'Donnell is a Master and former Executive Committee member of the Temple American Inn of Court. Ms. O'Donnell served as a member of Duane Morris' Partners Board from 2007 to 2010 and served on the Women's Impact Network for Success (WINS) Steering Committee. Ms. O'Donnell is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. 

In 2007-2019, Ms. O'Donnell was recognized in U.S. News/Best Lawyers "The Best Lawyers in America" in the areas of products liability and professional malpractice. From 2004 through 2017 she was designated one of Pennsylvania's "Super Lawyers" in a statewide survey. Only 5 percent of all attorneys in the Commonwealth are eligible for this designation. Ms. O'Donnell has also been named as one of the Top 50 Women Lawyers in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

A former judicial clerk to the Hon. Grant E. Wesner of the Court of Common Pleas of Berks County, she is a 1978 cum laude graduate of Temple University School of Law and a graduate of Temple University.

Representative Matters

  • Obtained a defense jury verdict in favor of a concierge physician in a case of alleged medical malpractice, breach of contract and violation of consumer protection statutes. Estate of Julius Newman v. Yardney, M. D. and MDVIP.
  • Successful in having a case voluntarily dismissed during the discovery phase on behalf of a licensed nuclear facility in Illinois related to injuries from the claimed discharge of radionuclides into the air and groundwater. Sauer v. Exelon Corp. and UniTech.
  • Defended cases in both state and federal courts, on behalf of a Fortune 50 pharmaceutical company involving the company's premier biological product against a competitor for purported breach of a critical supply agreement and for patent infringement, favorably settling before trial.
  • Case voluntarily dismissed by Plaintiff during the trial of a case of purported improper administration by a neurosurgeon of steroids causing asceptic necrosis of the hips. Heary v. Bruno, M.D.
  • Counseled a healthcare related non-profit in its handling of a security breach when a disgruntled employee removed a flash storage drive containing thousands of patients' personal and medical information.
  • Obtained a jury verdict in favor of defendant orthopedic surgeon in a case involving a below the knee amputation following a two week trial. Anderson v. Martinez, M.D.
  • Resolved a software implementation case brought on behalf of a leading manufacturer of musical instruments.
  • Achieved a favorable resolution of a AAA case bought behalf of a gasoline refining company based on the contract for the sale of steam. Sunoco (R & M), Inc. v. Seneca Petroleum Company.
  • Pennsylvania Supreme Court adopted physician-client's interpretation of the retroactivity of the MCare statute based on amicus brief. Wexler v. Hecht, M.D. (companion case to Bethea v. Philadelphia AFL-CIO Hospital Association).
  • Won a jury trial involving catastrophic brain injury allegedly related to a failure to diagnose a subarachnoid hemorrhage, which occurred immediately before the delivery of plaintiff's child. Erlich and Sugarman v. Cohen, Patrick and Pennsylvania Hospital.
  • Achieved dismissal of claim against our client, a third-party defendant, after case had been on appeal on the issue of our client's joinder and venue. Forrester v. Sea Gull Manufacturing Co. v. Salkind.
  • Mediation of AAA arbitration dispute involving an alleged wrongful termination of warehousing contract on behalf of a major animal products manufacturer, with results that the client found favorable. Bayer Corporation, Animal Products Division.
  • Defended a complex insurance coverage case in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, which included an award of attorney's fees to our client. Blair v. Ranger Insurance Company.
  • Handled the enforcement of an employment agreement that included the recovery of interest, attorney's fees and costs. In re: Thomas Sauer.
  • Appeal to the Pennsylvania Superior Court acknowledging the pharmaceutical industry's ability to provide low cost or free prescription programs without being subject to claims for "negligent promotion." Case dismissed as to the pharma defendant only. Pierce v. Solvay Pharmaceuticals Inc.
  • Served as regional and trial counsel for multiple manufacturers' asbestos claims, handling trials, mediations, arbitrations and supervising other local counsel. Fibreboard Corporation, NARCO.
  • Long-term counseling of major manufacturer of refractory products regarding the management and coordination of its asbestos cases nationally. Resco Products Inc.
  • Achieved the dismissal of a catastrophic injury case after extensive discovery. Schofield v. Acutech.
  • Achieved a defense verdict in favor of a physician in a double-amputee case. Wilson v. Daniels.
  • Brought a subrogation suit in the Federal District court in New Jersey on behalf of a manufacturer of acetylene gases whose entire property was destroyed in a fire, with an outcome that the client found favorable. Hunterdon Industrial Gases v. Kistler-O'Brien Fire Protection.
  • Successful appeal to the Pennsylvania Superior Court upholding the grant of summary judgment on behalf of a medical laboratory's alleged mishandling of a company's prospective employee's drug sample. Ney v. Medtox Laboratories.
  • Tried to verdict the first Fen-Phen cases in Pennsylvania and one of the first cases tried nationally. Scott v. Wyeth v. Guinta.
  • Won an arbitration among co-defendants despite client being the target defendant after the parties agreed to settle with plaintiff and arbitrate culpability among the 5 defendants. Pressley v. Dawley.


  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey
  • Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
  • Pennsylvania


  • Temple University School of Law, J.D., 1978


  • Duane Morris LLP
    - Partners' Board, 2007-2010
    - Partner, 1986-present
    - Associate, 1980-1986
  • James K. Martin Law Offices, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    - Staff Attorney, 1979-1980
  • Court of Common Pleas of Berks County, Reading, PA
    - Judicial Clerk, Honorable Grant E. Wesner, 1978-1979

Professional Activities

  • Forum of Executive Women, 2014-
    - Board of Directors, 2016-
    - Programming Committee Chair, 2016-
  • American Bar Association - Section of Litigation
    - Division VI Co-Director, 2016-2017
    - Woman Advocate Committee, Co-Chair, 2013-
    - Mass Torts Committee, Co-Chair, 2010-2013
    - ABA Section of Litigation Liaison to the ABA Standing Committee on Medical Liability, 2012-
    - "Outstanding Subcommittee Chair Award," May 2009
  • Temple Inn of the American Inns of Court, Master, 1996-
    -- Executive Committee, 2005-2006
    -- Team Leader, 2007, 2014
  • U.S. Women in Nuclear, 2009-
  • Pennsylvania Bar Association
    - Commission on Women in the Profession
    -- Co-Chair, 1998-2000
    -- Executive Committee, 1997-1998
    -- Chair, County Liaison Committee, 1996-1997
  • Philadelphia Bar Association
    - Medico/Legal Committee
    -- Co-Chair, 1989
    - Committee on Women in the Profession

Honors and Awards

  • Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers 

  • Named a "Lawyer of the Year" by The Best Lawyers in America, in the areas of mass tort litigation and class actions - defendants, 2017
  • Listed in Best Lawyers Greater Philadelphia, 2016
  • Listed in U.S. News/Best Lawyers "The Best Lawyers in America," 2007-2020, in the areas of products liability and professional malpractice

  • Listed in Pennsylvania Super Lawyers, 2004-2018, Top 50 Women Lawyers in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 2009-2011

  • Recipient of the 2014 Margery Reed Professional Excellence Award given by Duane Morris Women's Initiative
  • Named to the 2011 Irish Legal 100, Irish America magazine's listing of the leading Irish and Irish-American lawyers practicing in North America
  • 2009 Outstanding Subcommittee Chair-ABA Women Advocate Committee

Board Memberships

  • Board of Trustees, Muhlenberg College, Development, Faculty Review, Campus Life, HMMS Committees and On-Line Task Force as well as Presidential Selection Committee, 2010-
  • Board of Observers, Muhlenberg College, 2008-2009
  • Parents Council, Muhlenberg College, 2007-2008, Chair 2009-2010
  • Board of Visitors, School of Environmental Design and Ambler Campus, Temple University, 2011-2015
  • Board of Directors, Act II Playhouse, 2014-
    - Secretary, 2015-2016
    - External Affairs Committee, 2012-2013
  • Board of Directors, Living Beyond Breast Cancer, 1996-2008
    - Executive Committee, 2007
    - Development Committee, 2009

Selected Publications

  • "Challenging Witnesses: Before You take them out to the Woodshed, Read This," American Bar Association, November 2014
  • Author, "Superior Court of Pennsylvania Holds Communications Between Attorneys and Experts Are Not Discoverable," Duane Morris Alert, December 5, 2011
  • "Private Mediation: A Checklist," ABA Woman Advocate Newsletter, The article has also been selected by Conflict Management Newsletter, ABA Dispute Resolution Committee, Fall 2010, Vol.16, No.1
  • "The Brave New World of Food Regulation: Are Restaurants Next?", Pennsylvania Bar Institute, April 2010
  • "The Generational Divide," Book Chapter, Woman Advocate, Second Edition, American Bar Association, March 2010
  • "A Conversation with Roberta Liebenberg, Chair ABA Commission on Women in the Profession," The Woman Advocate Newsletter, American Bar Association, Section of Litigation, Winter 2008, Vol.13, No.5
  • "Guest Column, Pain Pumps: The Next Medical Device Litigation Wave?" Product Liability 360, May 12, 2008
  • Quoted in "Bringing Legal Counsel In-House," Pharmaceutical Commerce, November/December 2007
  • "E-Discovery: Admissibility of E-mails Critical for Success on Summary Judgment," Duane Morris Alert, July 31, 2007; republished in Lorman's Legal Update Newsletter, September 2007
  • "E-Evidence: The Admissibility of E-mails: Getting Them In, Keeping Them Out," The Legal Intelligencer, June 11, 2007, republished in Pennsylvania Law Weekly; reprinted in the Miami, Broward and Palm Beach Daily Business Reviews; as well on; on the blog; and a monthly E-newsletter, The Discovery Update
  • "Leadership Skills: Developing the Right Stuff," The Woman Advocate Newsletter, American Bar Association, Section of Litigation, Summer 2007, Vol.12, No.4
  • "Secondments: Getting Your Foot in the Door and Keeping It There," The Woman Advocate Newsletter, American Bar Association, Section of Litigation, Winter 2007, Vol.12, No.5

Selected Speaking Engagements

  • Speaker, "Getting into the Mind of Jurors: What They Think May Surprise You," 2019 Women in Litigation Joint CLE Conference, Loews Chicago Hotel, Chicago, November 14, 2019
  • Moderator, "Ten Tips to Develop Your Expert Witness Expertise," ABA Corporate Counsel CLE, La Quinta, California, February 17, 2018

  • Moderator, "May it Please the Court...and Jury: Giving Memorable Openings and Closings," ABA Women in Litigation Joint Conference, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, November 17, 2017

  • Moderator, "Is Time Management a Dead Concept? Concrete Practices and Technology Tips for the In-House Lawyer," ABA Corporate Counsel CLE Seminar, Orlando, Florida, February 17, 2017
  • Moderator and Program Planner, "How do I Connect with the Jury? Understanding Jury Psychology," ABA Woman Advocate Seminar, Kansas City, Missouri, November 10, 2016
  • Panelist, "A View From In-house Counsel: The Do's and Don'ts of How to Get and Keep Their Business," ABA Section of Litigation Roundtable, Sponsored by the Business Torts and Unfair Competition Committee and Co-sponsored by the Woman Advocate Committee, April 28, 2016
  • Moderator and Program Planner, "Powerful Negotiations: New Strategies for Women," Duane Morris WINS CLE Program, Philadelphia, PA, April 21, 2016
  • Podcast, "Make It About the New Client," ABA Business Development Series, ABA Monthly Newsletter, March 2016
  • Moderator and Program Planner, "Closing Arguments," 2015 Women of the Section of Litigation Conference, Chicago, IL, November 12, 2015
  • Panelist, "How to Become Involved in the ABA Section of Litigation," ABA Section of Litigation Trial Evidence Committee Teleconference, January 13, 2016
  • Moderator, "Closing Arguments," 2015 Women of the Section of Litigation Conference, Chicago, IL, November 12, 2015
  • Program Planner and Moderator, "Difficult Witnesses: Yours and Theirs" at the ABA Section of Litigation Annual Meeting, American Bar Association, New Orleans, LA, April 15-18, 2015
  • Speaker, "Navigating Tough Trial Issues and Making the Hard Calls" at the 2015 ABA Corporate Counsel CLE Seminar," American Bar Association Corporate Counsel CLE Seminar, Miami, February 12-15, 2015
  • Speaker, "Best Practices in Pre-Trial Litigation in the Federal Courts," Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Philadelphia, PA, November 17, 2014
  • Program Planner and Moderator, "Difficult Witnesses: Yours and Theirs" at the ABA Women of the Section of Litigation Conference, American Bar Association, Chicago, IL, November 7, 2014
  • Course Planner and Speaker, "Trial of a Federal Court Case," Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Philadelphia, July 23, 2014
  • Panelist, "Inadvertent Disclosure of Privileged Material: Avoiding a Finding of Waiver in the Digital Age," American Bar Association webinar, May 28, 2014 and related podcast
  • Course Planner, "Lean in for Trial Lawyers," American Bar Association Section of Litigation Annual Meeting, Scottsdale, AZ, April 11, 2014
  • Moderator, ABA Roundtable Program: "Closing the Gap: Steps to Achieve Gender Pay Equity in Law Firm Compensation," December 11, 2013
  • Moderator, "Courageous Counsel: Advice and Insights From General Counsel About Paths to Legal and Business Leadership," ABA Corporate Counsel CLE Seminar, Hollywood, Florida, February 17, 2013
  • Moderator, "When Can a Breach of Contract be a Tort and What Difference Does it Make?" ABA Section of Litigation, Committee on Corporate Counsel CLE Seminar, Carlsbad, California, February 18, 2012
  • Moderator, "Shattering the Glass Ceiling: The Myths and Realities of Law Firm Compensation," American Bar Association Annual Meeting, Toronto, August 5, 2011
  • Presenter, "Technology in the Courtroom," Temple University Beasley School of Law, Masters in Trial Advocacy Program, January 6, 2011
  • Speaker, Dining Out: Legal Issues for Restaurants and Their Customers, Philadelphia Bar Institute, on the topic of federal regulation of food safety, Philadelphia, April 20, 2010
  • Moderator, "Managing Nuclear Risks," at the Combined U.S. Women in Nuclear Energy (WIN) and Global WIN Conference, Washington, D.C., July 23, 2009
  • Moderator, "Relationship Conflicts: Clearing the Hurdle," ABA Annual Section of Litigation Meeting, Atlanta, Georgia, May 1, 2009
  • Moderator, "Kryptonite II," an interactive presentation featuring direct and cross-examination, and a federal jury assessment at the Toxic Torts and Environmental Law Committee (TTEL) of the Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section, Phoenix, AZ, April 3, 2009
  • Presenter, "Linking Technology to Victory: The Art of Preparing, Settling and Trying Cases in the Digital Age, Philadelphia Bar Institute," December 19, 2007
  • Panelist/Presenter with Judge Cynthia Rufe and Magistrate Judge David Strawbridge, "Electronic Discovery Disputes: The Next Step, Federal Courts Committee," Philadelphia Bar Association, October 17, 2007
  • Presenter, "Judicial Independence," Temple American Inn of Court, Philadelphia, April 11, 2007
  • Special Guest Presenter, "Managing Complex Litigation," The National Judicial Conference (audience exclusively of federal and state court judges), Reno, Nevada, May 25, 2006
  • Speaker, "HIPAA for Civil Litigators," Pennsylvania Bar Institute, July 21, 2004
  • Speaker, "HIPAA for Litigators," Pennsylvania Bar Institute program, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, November 17, 2003; Northeast Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, December 12, 2003
  • Panelist, "In the Eye of Beholder: Competing to Win Client Beauty Contests," American Bar Association Litigation Section Spring Meeting, Boston, Massachusetts, April 25, 2002
  • Moderator, "Diversity Works," Pennsylvania Bar Association Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, May 10, 2000
  • Course Planner and Moderator, "Impact of the Practice on Women and Minorities," Commission on Women in the Profession and the Minority Bar Committee, Pennsylvania Bar Annual Meeting, Orlando, Florida, November 19, 1999
  • Program Planner and Moderator, Commission on Women in the Profession program and luncheon featuring Governor Ann Richards, Pennsylvania Bar Association Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, May 6, 1999