Walt is nationally known as an accomplished trial lawyer and for his experience as a skilled client counselor and litigator. Early in his career, Walt tried a variety of cases (car wrecks, lift trucks, container handlers, roof trusses) but in recent years has spent much of his time trying tobacco product liability cases.
Walt has tried more than 20 tobacco cases in state and federal courts in Florida, California, Oregon, Massachusetts, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. He has also argued appeals before the New York Appellate Courts and the Sixth and Eighth Circuit Courts of Appeals.
Walt was singled out in Law360 by one of his colleagues as the litigator that he “fears going up against,” describing Walt as “a formidable match for any attorney. Walt is the whole package—friendly demeanor, smart, experienced, with a smooth Midwestern accent that charms a jury.”
Walt has had media training and extensive media experience. He has appeared on Good Morning America and has been interviewed numerous times on radio as well as in local and national newspapers. He also frequently lectures on trial practice and litigation strategies.
Tobacco Trial Experience
Walt has tried a number of unique and important cases for tobacco companies, and is typically asked to try particularly challenging cases in particularly challenging venues. Since 2010, Walt has tried, as lead counsel, the following Engle-Progeny cases:
- Perrotto v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al. (June 2018)
- Theis v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al. (May 2018)
- Wallace v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al. (October 2017)
- Howles v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al. (January 2016) and retrial (November 2016)
- Marchese v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al. (October 2015)
- Jordan v. Philip Morris USA Inc. (August 2015)
- Caprio v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al. (February 2015)
- Perrotto v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al. (November 2014)
- Harris v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al. (July 2014)
- Goveia v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al. (February 2014)
- Haldeman v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al. (September 2013)
- Campbell v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al. (May 2013)
- Lock v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al. (October 2012)
- Denton v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al. (August 2012)
- Szymanski v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al. (October 2011)
- Willis v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al. (May 2010) and retrial (October 2010)
Aside from Engle litigation, Walt’s other tobacco trial experience includes:
- In 2010, Walt was lead trial counsel in Evans v. Lorillard Tobacco Co., which was tried in state court in Massachusetts.
- In 2005, Walt was the lead trial counsel in Coolidge v. Philip Morris USA, Inc., a smoking-and-health case that was tried in state court in Riverside, California. After an 11-week trial, the jury needed less than two hours to return a unanimous defense verdict.
- In 2001, Walt was lead trial counsel for Philip Morris and Lorillard in Tompkin v. The American Tobacco Co., et al. Tompkin was tried in federal court in Ohio. After a defense verdict, Walt successfully argued the appeal on behalf of the four defendant tobacco companies in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
- In 1999, Walt was lead trial counsel in Williams v. Philip Morris Inc. Williams, a smoking-and-health case tried in state court in Oregon, ultimately led to a successful result for the client when ruled on in 2007 by the United States Supreme Court. The case was widely reported in national media for the outcome’s limitations on the power of juries to inflict large punitive awards against corporations in product liability cases.
- In 1997, Walt was one of the lead trial counsel for Philip Morris and Lorillard in Broin v. Philip Morris Inc., et al., a nationwide class action brought in state court in Florida by non-smoking flight attendants alleging injury from breathing secondhand smoke on airplanes. It was the first secondhand smoke case and the first tobacco class action to go to trial.
- In 1991, Walt successfully defended Lorillard in Ierardi v. Lorillard, Inc., et al., the first Kent Micronite filter trial. The case was tried in federal court in Pennsylvania.
Product Liability in the USA, Lexology, February 23, 2018.
Luiz Migliora, Walter S. Cofer and Gregory L. Fowler, Trial and Error: Class Actions in Brazil and the US, and the Global Trends, LATINLAWYER (Vol. 6, Issue 8), September 2007.
Walter L. Cofer, Andrew D. Carpenter and Scott D. Kaiser, Punitive Damages in the United States: Two Years After State Farm v. Campbell, The International Who's Who of Product Liability Defense Lawyers, Fall 2005.