Michelle Molinaro Burke

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Michelle Molinaro Burke is a trial lawyer that understands that in today’s business climate, clients demand practical and cost-effective solutions to litigation. She strives to understand her clients' long-term goals and partners with her clients not only to resolve pending litigation, but to provide forward-thinking solutions with an eye towards diverting future litigation. A practical yet creative problem-solver, Michelle is skilled at seeing the "big picture" from very early on in her cases. Armed with early case development and an understanding of the law, Michelle determines the case strategy and designs and executes a streamlined discovery plan aimed to posture the case or individual claims for dismissal on summary judgment. Although Michelle's goal is to keep her clients out of the courtroom, Michelle is experienced in adeptly and aggressively trying cases, and has obtained favorable results for her clients.

  

Michelle serves as both primary and local defense counsel and manages a large docket of products liability, toxic tort, commercial and general civil litigation matters. She handles all aspects of complex litigation and is adept at developing defense strategies, coordinating all aspects of discovery and crafting successful dispositive motions.

Michelle serves in a variety of roles, including: serving as national coordinating counsel and trial counsel for a major elevator manufacturer in defense of asbestos exposure claims; as counsel for a Fortune 100 chemical company for litigation and liability matters; as counsel to a major automobile manufacturer; and as counsel to many other small and large businesses and insurance companies in general liability matters.

In addition to her clients, Michelle is also respected as a leader among her peers. She currently serves as Co-Chair of the American Bar Association Section of Litigation's Products Liability Committee, and has also served in other leadership roles within the Section. She has also been recognized on the New Jersey Super Lawyers "Rising Stars" List, Personal Injury Products: Defense, since 2014, and was recently recognized in The Best Lawyers of America, 2020 Edition, for "Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions - Defendants I Personal Injury Litigation – Defendants." 

Representative Matters
  • Served as lead trial counsel in a personal injury case involving a collision between two tractor trailers where the plaintiff alleged significant personal injuries.  After a weeklong trial, the jury ultimately found the plaintiff to be 50% at fault for the accident, and awarded a minimal verdict of $25,000 while declining to award any damages for pain and suffering.
  • National coordinating counsel and trial counsel for major elevator manufacturer in defense of asbestos exposure claims.
  • Counsel for two major chemical manufacturers, including a Fortune 100 chemical company, in New Jersey asbestos litigation and other product and premises liability matters.
  • Counsel to major automobile manufacturer in asbestos and other product liability litigation.
  • Defended an engineering/supplier firm in a public works construction project against a product liability and breach of warranty action and obtained a dismissal of several key claims.
  • Defended a national restaurant chain against a purported class action alleging consumer fraud due to excessive sodium content of meals.
  • Obtained dismissal of several hormone therapy failure-to-warn cases.
Prior Relevant Experience
  • Tompkins, McGuire, Wachenfeld & Barry, LLP, Newark, NJ, Associate, 2006-2007
  • The Honorable John F. Malone J.S.C. (ret.), Civil Division, Union County, NJ, Judicial Law Clerk, 2005-2006
  • Union County Prosecutor’s Office, Elizabeth, NJ, Legal Intern, Juvenile Justice Unit, Summer 2004
  • City of Syracuse Office of Corporation Counsel, Syracuse, NY, Law Clerk/Legal Extern, June 2003-May 2004
Organizations/Memberships
  • American Bar Association, Section of Litigation, Products Liability Committee, Co-Chair, 2019-present
  • American Bar Association, Section of Litigation, Products Liability Committee, Chair, Chemical and Toxic Tort Subcommittee, 2018-2019
  • American Bar Association, Section of Litigation, Young Advocates Committee, Co-Chair, 2016-2019
  • Brennan-Vanderbilt Inn of Court, Barrister 
  • Hunterdon County Bar Association
  • Literacy Volunteers of Somerset County, Vice-President and Trustee, 2008-2016
Publications
Speaking Engagements
  • "Bridging the Gap Between Law School and Practice," ABA Section of Litigation Annual Conference, New York, New York, May 3, 2019.
  • "Tips for Effectively Dealing with Inside and Outside Clients," ABA Section of Litigation Young Advocates, Minority Trial Lawyer, and Ethics & Professionalism Committees Regional CLE Program, Seton Hall University School of Law, Newark, NJ, March 26, 2019. 
  • "Look Before You Leap: Strategies for Effective Personal Jurisdiction Challenges and Choice of Law Motions,"  New Jersey Defense Association & Association of Corporate Counsel of New Jersey Joint Products Liability Seminar, Newark, NJ, February 1, 2019.
  • "A Funny Thing Did Happen on the Way to the Forum: Navigating the New Landscape of Personal Jurisdiction Challenges," ABA Section of Litigation - 2019 Environmental & Energy, Mass Torts, and Products Liability Litigation Committees’ Joint CLE Seminar, Laguna Beach, CA, January 10-12, 2019. 
  • "Ethical Considerations for In-House Lawyers Performing Pro Bono Work," Ethics & Eggs, Porzio, Bromberg & Newman, P.C., Morristown, NJ, November 30, 2018.
  • "SCOTUS 2018: The Impact of the Changing Face of the Nation's Highest Court on Product Liability Cases," 2018 Women in Products Liability Regional CLE Program, Washington, DC, October 25, 2018.
  • "Minding Your Ys and Zs - Selling Your Case To The Social Media Generations," ABA Section of Litigation Annual Conference, San Diego, CA, May 2018. 
  • Moderator, "Business Development: Expanding Your Opportunities Through Mentoring Relationships," ABA Section of Litigation, Consumer Litigation, Minority Trial Lawyers, Young Advocates, February 27, 2018.
  • "Recent Developments in Personal Jurisdiction Challenges," Ethics & Eggs, Porzio, Bromberg & Newman, P.C., Morristown, NJ, December 1, 2017.
  • "Dirty Litigation Tactics: How to Deal with the 'Rambo' Litigator," National Business Institute (NBI), Newark, NJ, October 2017.
  • Panelist, “Winning Advocacy Techniques at Mediation," ABA Section of Litigation, Young Advocates Committee, June 1, 2017.
  • Moderator, “Personal Finance for Young Lawyers,” ABA Section of Litigation Roundtable, Young Advocates Committee, December 1, 2016.
  • "Young Advocates Committee – Ask Us Anything," ABA Section of Litigation, Young Advocates Committee, November 22, 2016. 
  • "From Baby to Briefcase – Managing Work and Life after Returning from Leave," ABA Section of Litigation Roundtable, Young Advocates and Woman Advocate Committees, February 26, 2016.
  • "The Rules of Evidence: A Practical Toolkit," National Business Institute (NBI), Newark, NJ, May 21, 2015.
  • "What's New? Hot Topics in Statutes, Regulations, and Rules Impacting Product Litigation," New Jersey Defense Association Products Liability Committee Seminar, September 12, 2014.
  • Moderator, "Playing Defense: Preparing Your Client for Deposition," ABA Section of Litigation, Presented by the Young Advocates Committee and Co-Sponsored by Pretrial Practice & Discovery and JIOP Alumni Committees, June 30, 2014.
Honors and Awards
  • Recognized in Best Lawyers in America, Mass Tort Litigation (2020), Class Actions - Defendants (2020), Personal Injury Litigation -Defendants (2020). 
  • Recognized on the New Jersey Super Lawyers "Rising Stars" List, Personal Injury Products: Defense, 2014 - 2019.

Practice

Industries

Related Media

Bar Admissions

  • New Jersey, 2005
  • New York, 2006
  • United States District Court, District of New Jersey, 2005

Education

Syracuse University College of Law, Syracuse, NY, J.D., 2005

Rutgers College, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, B.A., Economics and Labor Studies, 2002

International Association of Defense Counsel, Trial Academy, Stanford University, August, 2015

 

Contact Address

100 Southgate Parkway

Morristown, NJ 07962-1997

Phone: 973.538.4006

Fax: 973.538.5146

  • Burke, Michelle