Ralph W. Robinson Senior Counsel




Ralph Robinson is a senior litigator at Wilson Elser and his primary areas of focus are general liability, municipal claims, employment practices liability, medical malpractice and product liability. A member of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), Ralph has tried more than 100 cases to verdict throughout Northern California. In addition to appearing in virtually every jurisdiction in California, he has handled a variety of legal matters in Arizona, Nevada and Hawaii. Additionally, Ralph has handled cases before the International Court of Arbitration, and matters of catastrophic loss in France, Germany, Italy, Australia and Spain.

Ralph’s extensive litigation experience and his prominent positions within the firm enable him to serve clients as a guiding force behind their cases and the attorneys who handle them.

Areas of Focus

Product Liability
Ralph has extensive experience in product liability matters involving a wide variety of mechanized vehicles and other manufactured products. During his career, Ralph has represented makers of tractors, motorcycles, ATVs, watercraft, forklifts and bicycles. He has also represented the manufacturers of punch presses, industrial heaters, air conditioning systems, power saws, chemical manufacturers, agricultural tractors and related heavy machinery, earth moving equipment, industrial chippers, industrial packaging machinery, forestry heavy machinery, equipment hydraulics, cranes, assembly line facilities, marine loading facilities and related machinery, cement plant machinery, lumber mill equipment, wind turbines, electrical machinery failures, chemical storage facilities & industrial grinders. In addition, Ralph has addressed for clients a variety of asbestos-related cases and trials involving gaskets, motorcycles and tractors. He also has handled class action claims, Consumer Product Safety Commission and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recalls, California Proposition 65 toxic matters, and Business and Professions Code unfair practices claims.

Transportation Defense
Ralph handles all aspects of transportation defense, including hundreds of liability matters for trucking and bus companies and insurers. He also defends product liability claims involving motorcycles, ATVs, personal watercraft, power boats, and related products such as tractors and heavy equipment. Ralph works very closely with the leading experts in the areas of accident reconstruction, human factors, biomechanics and related fields.

Professional Liability
Ralph has represented lawyers, architects, engineers, insurance agents and brokers, and security broker-dealers in state and federal actions. He has also handled arbitrations before the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and other regulatory bodies.

Ralph has represented individuals and businesses in wage-and-hour disputes, exempt employee matters, wrongful termination and discrimination cases in state and federal courts throughout California and before the State Labor Board.

Ralph’s experience in representing municipalities includes matters of liability, civil rights claims, land subsidence, first amendment issues and inverse contamination cases.

Representative Matters

Represented a manufacturer of personal watercraft in which plaintiff suffered fatal injuries on the Colorado River. Plaintiff alleged a design defect relating to the steering mechanism. Economic damages were verified at $240 million. Hung jury after three-month trial. This case was retried to a defense verdict.

Defense verdict for a manufacturer of an all-terrain vehicle (ATV). Plaintiff was operating ATV on a steep slope, and due to rider error the ATV turned over causing severe and permanent leg injuries. Plaintiff alleged a defect in the transmission. Defense verdict following a three-week trial.

Class action for alleged carbon monoxide exposure on power boats. Multiple theories of liability under California consumer protection statutes; 30-day court trial. Liability found on one theory, which is in error and on appeal.

Represented an international steel manufacturer involving a $250 million fire loss at one of its steel mills. It was alleged that the fire was caused by a design defect in the hydraulics system of the mill’s machinery. This matter was venued in the International Court of Arbitration in Geneva, Switzerland, and was resolved for a fraction of the claim damages representing the cost of defense.

A 23-year-old girl suffered a leg amputation while operating a personal watercraft. It was alleged that the accident was due to “off-throttle steering.” The case settled at trial for $42,500.

Represented a compounding pharmaceutical company that provided raw chemicals and formulas for injectable medications. There were numerous claims of wrongful death and serious permanent injuries due to alleged contamination of the injectable products caused by an incorrect formulation process. Multiple claims were resolved for cost of defense.

Obtained defense verdict after a 30-day trial on behalf of a manufacturer of golf carts in a wrongful death claim involving a passenger on a golf cart who was thrown from the vehicle. It was alleged that the golf cart was defective for not having seat belts.