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Merton Howard

Merton A. Howard

(415) 995-5033


Mert chairs the firm's Product Liability and Torts Practice Group and the immediate past leader of the firm's Litigation and Dispute Resolution Section. He has more than 25 years' experience defending product liability, premise, toxic exposure, class action, and mass tort claims. His cases have ranged from a pesticide label review for fertilizer products, to catastrophic injuries, children's products, chemicals, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, food and related services, consumer goods, aviation equipment, asbestos and other toxic substances, retail, general liability, insurance, and property damage. He also represents clients in business litigation and matters concerning alleged fraud, and unfair competition. Additionally, he assists companies with crisis management and public relations, warnings and instructions, and best practices for litigation avoidance.

In his representation of clients in complex litigation, Mert acts as national, regional, and local trial counsel. He is experienced in legal project management and strategic planning, alternative dispute resolution, trials, and appeals. This includes a flexible approach to managing cases that is designed to provide opportunities for early claim evaluation and resolution, multi-tiered defense strategies, informed decision making, and, whenever possible, reduced transactional costs. When push comes to shove, Mert and his team are well-prepared and ready to advance the appropriate litigation objectives and strategy.

In the regulatory context, Mert guides clients through California's Proposition 65 compliance process, including risk and exposure assessments, counseling, litigation, and settlement negotiations. He also counsels product manufacturers and sellers on issues concerning national and international regulatory compliance and related litigation. This includes coordinating voluntary product recalls, reporting to regulators, and managing risk for products regulated by the CPSC and FDA, among others. Working with a long-time client, Mert became NHTSA certified as a child car seat installation technician, which allowed him to help the client at all levels, including engineering, production, customer relations, deposition, and in the courtroom.

Mert is a nationally recognized speaker and thought leader focused on emerging trends in liability and tort law, as well as trial advocacy, law firm management, and legal education.


J.D. summa cum laude University of San Francisco School of Law ( 1992 )
B.A. cum laude University of Connecticut ( 1989 )

Admissions and Courts

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
U.S. District Court for the Central District of California
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California


Product Liability & Torts Practice Leader
Proposition 65 Practice Leader
Pro Bono Committee, Member

American Bar Association

USLAW Network - Board of Directors (Former Member); Steering Committee Leader; Diversity Council

ABA TIPS—Toxic Tort and Environmental Law, Vice-Chair

Association of Defense Counsel of Northern California

Defense Research Institute

International Association of Defense Counsel

International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organization

Bar Association of San Francisco

University of San Francisco School of Law, Board of Governors

University of San Francisco School of Law, Alumnus of the Year (2018)

Conte v. Wyeth, Inc. (2008) 168 Cal. App. 4th 89 (Review denied by Conte (Elizabeth Ann) v. Wyeth, Inc., 2009 Cal. LEXIS 233 (Cal., Jan. 21, 2009))