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May 10, 2021

Six Experienced Trial Attorneys Join Nelson Mullins in Baltimore, Nashville

A six-person team with years of experience in high exposure, complex litigation, primarily in pharmaceutical, medical device, and catastrophic personal injury defense, has joined Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP in its Baltimore and Nashville offices. Thomas J. Cullen, Kali E. Book, and Ericka L. Downie join as partners from Goodell, DeVries, Leech & Dann, LLP, where they were partners; John D. Maxa and Ryan M. Cullen, former associates at the same firm, join as of counsel and associate, respectively; and Kate Skagerberg joins from Beck Redden, where she was a partner.

All six attorneys have backgrounds in complex pharmaceutical, product liability, and toxic tort litigation along with catastrophic injury product liability litigation.

“We are thrilled to welcome this group of well-known litigators to our team,” said Michael A. Brown, who leads the Baltimore litigation team. “With their significant experience, we are even more well-equipped to represent our clients in first chair positions in national and class action litigation.”

“This is a great team to add to our litigation group, and we are excited for the growth and experience they bring to our firm,” said David E. Dukes, a leader of the litigation practice of more than 400 attorneys. “Their national experience in complex litigation will enhance our current team and truly benefit our clients.”

Tom Cullen, who will split his time between Nashville and Baltimore, noted that the team has many of the skill sets that complement the Nelson Mullins litigators. “We feel like we will be a good fit for Nelson Mullins and will offer a deeper bench of complex litigation experience that the growing team needs,” he said. 

“I am excited to be joining this highly skilled group of litigators,” added team member Kate Skagerberg. “Nelson Mullins is noted for its experienced products liability litigation teams and its work around the country for Fortune 100 clients, and I am ready and able to jump in on their pending national litigation.”

Tom Cullen has represented clients in complex pharmaceutical, product liability, and toxic tort litigation for more than 30 years. He has taken cases to trial in more than 20 states while representing clients across the country as both national and trial counsel. He has represented several clients in the pharmaceutical industry as national and trial counsel for more than 30 years in various litigations, including as national trial counsel in product liability, qui tam, and anti-trust litigation. He has worked closely with many companies in risk assessment and litigation management, as well as the defense of thousands of individual product liability actions.

Downie, based in Baltimore, has more than 20 years of experience in complex litigation involving pharmaceutical and medical device product liability, toxic tort and environmental litigation, and general tort liability claims. She provides legal representation to a wide variety of clients, including leading pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers, and industrial manufacturers. She has served on trial teams involved in some of the most complex and high-profile litigations of the last two decades.

Book, based in Baltimore,  focuses her practice on product liability defense. She has represented material handling equipment and pharmaceutical manufacturers in state and federal cases throughout the United States, including in mass tort and multi-district litigation. She has been a member of several trial teams, has second-chair experience litigating design defect cases, and has extensive appellate experience.  

Skagerberg, based in Nashville, serves as trial counsel in high-exposure cases in federal and state courts across the country. She represents product manufacturers in multi-district and individually filed products liability cases. She is especially interested in medical devices affecting women's health. She serves as first-chair trial counsel for an international medical device manufacturer facing tens of thousands of suits across the country. Her Tennessee admission is pending.

Maxa, based in Baltimore, focuses on the defense of lead paint, product liability, and asbestos claims in both state and federal courts.

Ryan Cullen, who will split his time between the Nashville and Baltimore offices, focuses his practice primarily on product liability defense. He has represented pharmaceutical and material handling equipment manufacturers in state and federal cases throughout the United States. He has been a member of several trial teams that have taken multiple cases to verdict. He has deposed numerous fact witnesses, negotiated discovery disputes, and prepped many witnesses for trial. His Tennessee admission is pending.

The six join a team that recently added Alicia N. Ritchie, an experienced litigator who handles complex cases in state and federal trial and appellate courts throughout the country, and Jonathan J. Huber, who litigates and tries multi-party complex toxic tort, insurance, environmental, construction defect, and business tort cases in state and federal courts around the United States. Ritchie, a partner, is based in Baltimore, while Huber, of counsel, is based in Washington, D.C.

Nelson Mullins’ Litigation Group has 427 attorneys across 24 offices and nine states coast to coast, and more than a dozen attorneys have first-chair experience in product liability matters. More than 25% of its litigators are involved in products liability litigation matters, including service as national counsel in multi-state litigation, trial counsel, class actions counsel, and leaders of science and discovery teams. The firm has one of the largest full-service e-discovery teams in the country with more than 50 attorneys and 30 technology specialists working in its Encompass division. Legal ranking organization Benchmark Litigation has ranked Nelson Mullins as Law Firm of the Year in products liability for two years in a row. Over the past three years, Nelson Mullins has represented a client in multi-state litigation in more than 16 states involving an allegedly defective industrial component part and have succeeded in obtaining more than 20 dismissals for lack of personal jurisdiction in trial courts all across the country, with state and federal appellate courts affirming orders of dismissal (or reversing trial court orders finding personal jurisdiction) in multiple cases.

Established in 1897, Nelson Mullins is an AmLaw 100 law firm with more than 800 attorneys and government relations professionals in offices in 11 states and Washington, D.C. For more information on the firm, go to