Robert Kum is a nationally recognized trial attorney focusing his practice on complex litigation matters concerning toxic torts, products liability, catastrophic injuries and business disputes in various state and federal courts throughout the United States and across multiple industries including automotive, chemical, and construction. He has extensive experience in dispute resolution, including arbitration and mediation, and has served as a mediator for the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Mr. Kum has experience defending actions ranging from a single plaintiff to large mass torts. He provides multiple services to his clients, including mock trials and preparing corporate witnesses for trial and depositions. Mr. Kum also provides guidance to companies concerning the latest technological advances and cost-saving measures applied to various forms of litigation.
Mr. Kum is a 1996 graduate of Pepperdine University School of Law and a 1991 graduate of the University of California, Berkeley.
Areas of Practice
Complex Commercial Litigation
Environmental and Toxic Torts
Represented Berryman Products, Inc. in obtaining a defense victory in the James Zambos, et al. v. Berryman Products, et al. trial venued in Chicago. Plaintiffs claim decedent contracted a blood cancer due to his alleged exposure to a benzene-containing carburetor cleaner. On behalf of the estate, widow and heirs, Plaintiffs sought millions of dollars in damages from their wrongful death and survival claims including economic loss, pain & suffering and emotional distress damages. The jury returned a verdict in an amount a fraction of the damages sought. Due to settlements of the prior co-defendants, the verdict was completely offset, with judgment being entered for $0.
Represented Deutsche Bank National Trust Company and other related Deutsche Bank entities in a personal injury burn lawsuit where the buyer of a foreclosed home, owned by Deutsche, suffered third degree burns when a barbeque on the property exploded. Deutsche Bank obtained summary judgement on grounds that the home was sold in “as is” condition.
Represented Granco Clark, Inc., a worldwide leader in the manufacturing of industrial furnaces and ovens used in metal processing facilities, in the Richard Shaffer v. Granco Clark et al. matter, obtaining a defense verdict in an asbestos case. Plaintiff, a former employee at its Vernon, California, facility, alleged that workplace asbestos exposure caused his colon cancer, which subsequently spread to his lung. After a causation challenge by Granco Clark, the court granted the request to bifurcate the trial into two phases: general and specific causation. During Phase One, the court granted the defense request to exclude the causation opinion from one of the plaintiff’s key expert witnesses, and the jury returned a defense verdict.
National coordinating and trial counsel for automotive chemical supplier in benzene lawsuits venued throughout the U.S.
National trial counsel for major paint company involved in toxic tort/products liability claims.
Represented Berryman Products, Inc. in the Paul Simmons, et al. v. US Steel, et al. trial ending in a defense verdict in a benzene exposure case venued in Philadelphia.
Represented Berryman Products, Inc. in a multi-plaintiff toxic tort case in Kern County, California involving more than 70 defendants; the plaintiffs claimed they contracted a rare cancer, Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia, due to their exposures at various oil well sites, but the court agreed with Berryman that the plaintiffs were mis-joined and that the case should be severed into separate actions for trial because plaintiffs’ claims did not arise out of the same transaction or occurrence.
Represents trucking companies including Penske Logistics LLC in commercial and personal injury matters.
Represents automobile companies in warranty and product liability claims.
Represents manufacturers of medical implant devices and drug companies in product liability cases nationwide.
- Defends various national paint and chemical companies in cancer and lung disease cases.
- Trial counsel for equipment manufacturer in asbestos lawsuits.
- Obtained summary judgment during trial for industrial furnace manufacturer in mesothelioma asbestos case based on O’Neil replacement parts doctrine.
Obtained voluntary no-pay dismissals for a pharmaceutical distributor after filing summary judgment motions establishing that our client’s over-the-counter talcum powder was not contaminated with asbestos and that the plaintiffs’ personal injury claims were preempted by the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act.
Successfully represented and obtained no cost dismissals for talc producers and suppliers.
Defense verdict in product liability action venued in the United States District Court of California (Eastern Division).
- Obtained $450,000 jury verdict in breach of fiduciary duty/constructive fraud action venued in Los Angeles Superior Court.
Represented construction company in catastrophic personal injury case. Was hired after original counsel exposed client to extra-contractual liability and was able to resolve case on terms the client found favorable.
- Bench trial verdict obtained on behalf of insurance company in breach of contract action.
- Served as coordinating counsel for food flavoring company involved in domestic and international product liability and commercial disputes.
- Obtained defense verdict in first diacetyl case to be tried in California.
Successfully defeated arbitration claims against major flavoring producer.
- Provides consulting on Prop 65, HazComm and label and material safety data sheet compliance.
- Defended public utilities in hexavalent chromium groundwater environmental litigation.
- Defended national equipment manufacturer in silica and welding rod litigation.
- Defended cosmetic and hair care companies in commercial and product liability lawsuits.
- Provides guidance to companies concerning the latest technological advances and cost-saving measures applied to various forms of litigation.
- Provide expert and lay witness preparation for deposition and/or trial.
- Provide jury and mock trial research.
- District of Columbia
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
- U.S. District Court for the Central District of California
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California
- U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
- U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
- Pepperdine University School of Law, J.D., 1996
- University of California, Berkeley, B.A., 1991
Duane Morris LLP
- Partner, 2018-present
- Associate/Partner, 2001-2017
Honors and Awards
- Listed in The Best Lawyers in America, 2023
Listed in California Super Lawyers
Listed in California Super Lawyers Rising Stars
2016 Sedgwick Inclusion and Diversity Award
Defense Research Institute
- Toxic Tort Subcommittee
- Author, "Judicial Hellhole? Sign Me Up," Today’s General Counsel, June 2023 Issue
- Mentioned, "California Jury Finds No Link Between Asbestos, Colon Cancer," LexisNexis Mealey's Litigation Report: Asbestos, June 8, 2022
- Quoted, "Bayer Gets Boost As It Preps For Roundup Showdown In Calif." Law360, February 3, 2020
- Quoted, "New Talc Jury Gives J&J Chance To Stem Tide Of Legal Blows," Law360, December 6, 2019
Quoted, "J&J's Litigation Bravado In Sharp Relief After Epic Opioid Trial," Law360, September 20, 2019
Quoted, "J&J's 3-Deal Day Signals A Shift In Legal War Over Talc," Law360, March 29, 2019
Quoted, "Weil Gotshal Lawyers' Tough Tactics Sealed J&J Talc Win," Law360
“Consumer Products Act May Be Regulatory Overkill,” Law360
“An Overview of the Underlying Policy and Application of the Raw Material and Bulk Supplier Defenses,” DRI Toxic Tort Quarterly
“Reclassification of Two Industrial Chemicals in New Report on Carcinogens May Increase Toxic Tort Litigation,” Los Angeles Daily Journal