Harmon (Monty) Cooper practices in Sedgwick LLP’s Complex Litigation Division and Product Liability/Specialty Tort Practice Group. His practice focuses on product liability, environmental, and complex civil litigation. He has experience with multidistrict proceedings and has represented clients in a range of industries, including automotive, petroleum, and heavy machinery. He has over a decade’s worth of experience in all phases of litigation, from discovery to motion practice to trial, including first-chair jury and bench trial experience. He is a member of the bars of the District of Columbia, Maryland, and South Carolina. For several years, he has been selected as a Washington, D.C. Super Lawyers “Rising Star.”
Product Liability and Civil Litigation Experience
Monty has significant experience litigating product liability and civil litigation matters in state and federal courts across the country. In Maryland state court, he has successfully helped obtain a defense verdict before a jury on behalf of an automobile manufacturer in a wrongful-death suit involving claims of a defective transmission. In a Florida federal court, he successfully helped defend an oil company against class certification in product liability litigation brought by boat owners against the oil industry for the use of ethanol in fuel. In Maryland state courts, he has represented a heavy machinery manufacturer as local counsel in suits involving allegedly defective engines. In a D.C. federal court, he has led the representation of a global information-technology company in a suit brought by plaintiffs alleging catastrophic injuries from an allegedly defective electronic device. He also represents a Maryland county school district, one of the largest in the country, as a hearing examiner involving civil litigation and labor and employment matters.
In addition to his product liability and civil litigation experience, Monty’s practice has included such diverse matters as a London-based arbitration of a contract dispute between international brokerage firms and the pro bono representation of children as a guardian ad litem in D.C. Superior Court.
Environmental Litigation Experience
Monty has defended numerous cases involving alleged exposure to contamination in groundwater, soil, and air. He is a member of a national coordinating defense counsel team for an oil company in multidistrict litigation involving the gasoline additive MTBE in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. He has had significant experience in these cases, from the preparation of dispositive motions in contamination suits brought by multiple state attorneys general; to the preparation of expert witnesses, including hydrogeologists and engineers; to the preparation and defense of depositions of corporate representatives in actions filed by public-water utilities. He has represented an oil company in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona against CERCLA and common law claims seeking contribution for environmental remediation costs.
Further, he has experience representing companies in their negotiations with government agencies concerning environmental and property-transfer laws.
Monty has published several articles on environmental and civil litigation matters, from an analysis of global-warming litigation via the Supreme Court’s decision in AEP v. Connecticut to an examination of court decisions since Bell Atlantic v. Twombly and Ashcroft v. Iqbal regarding federal pleading standards.
Public Sector Experience
In addition to his law practice, Monty has been active in his community, in particular serving as chairman of the Redevelopment Authority (RDA) of Prince George’s County, MD. The RDA is the principal development and redevelopment agency in Maryland’s second largest jurisdiction. Its mission is to develop mixed-income housing and mixed-use development in the county’s urban communities and transit centers.
Since becoming chairman, the RDA has selected a half-dozen development partners for projects with a total development cost of over $180 million and has provided more than 250 loans worth more than $4 million for down-payment and closing-cost assistance to low-income families. The RDA’s efforts have been highlighted in both print (e.g., The Washington Post) and television media (e.g., WJLA-ABC News 7 – Washington, D.C.). Likewise, Monty’s role here and work in the community have been recognized by both local and national organizations, including the Prince George’s County Social Innovation Fund, Maryland’s The Daily Record newspaper, and the national urban-affairs nonprofit Next City.
- Law Clerk — Hon. Patrick Michael Duffy of the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina
- Special Assistant State’s Attorney — Prince George’s County, Maryland
- Representing a public government-sponsored enterprise in negotiations with government agencies concerning environmental and property-transfer laws.
- Representing a major oil company as national litigation counsel in numerous MTBE cases in which private water companies, public water utilities, and state agencies allege that MTBE is a defective and unreasonably dangerous product that has contaminated public drinking water supplies in New York, New Hampshire, and several other states.
- Successfully defended a major oil company against class certification in product liability litigation brought by boat owners against oil companies for their use of ethanol in fuel.
- Successfully defended a major U.S. automobile manufacturer at trial in a wrongful death suit involving claims of alleged defective brakes. After a week-long jury trial in a Maryland circuit court, the company obtained a defense verdict.
- Successfully defended an international brokerage firm in a breach of contract dispute before the London Court of International Arbitration. The matter settled on favorable terms.
- Representing a Maryland county school district, one of the largest in the country, as a hearing examiner (judge) in an employee-termination dispute.
- As Special Assistant State’s Attorney in Prince George’s County, Maryland (January – May 2014), tried several cases involving 2nd degree assault, traffic violations and driving under the influence (DUI) charges before judges. Tried multiple DUI cases before juries, including the successful conviction of a defendant.
Presentations and Publications
- Panelist, “Solar Power and Resilient Design for Schools and Shelters: How Sustainable Public Buildings Can Enhance Their Communities,” Environmental and Energy Study Institute, Washington, D.C. (March 29, 2016).
- Moderator, “Cities and Water: A Conversation With the General Counsel of D.C. Water and WSSC,” D.C. Bar Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Section Panel, Washington, D.C. (October 28, 2015).
- Author, “Rosebrock v. Eastern Shore Emergency Physicians LLC: Maryland Court of Special Appeals Analyzes Habit Evidence — MD Rule 5-406,” The Maryland Litigator, Maryland State Bar Association, Litigation Section (June 2015).
- Moderator, “Meet the Leaders — A Conversation With Lawyers Who Manage Legal Departments About Their Practice and The Law,” J. Franklyn Bourne Bar Association, Lanham, MD (May 21, 2015).
- Author, “Property Owners Denied Class Certification in Halliburton Contamination Suit,” Sedgwick’s Toxic Tort and Environmental Law Update (March 2015).
- Author, “Glenn v. GSX Trans., Inc. and the Licensee/Invitee/Trespasser Distinction in Maryland Tort Law,” The Maryland Litigator, Maryland State Bar Association, Litigation Section (February 2015).
- Moderator, “Legends of Environmental Law: A Conversation With Steven P. Quarles of Sedgwick LLP,” D.C. Bar Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Section Panel, Washington, D.C. (October 16, 2014).
- Author, “Hasley v. Ward Mfg. and Maryland’s Economic-Loss Rule’s Public-Safety Exception,” The Maryland Litigator, Maryland State Bar Association, Litigation Section (October 2014).
- Author, “New Federal Chemical-Disclosure Regulations? Public Comment Period Has Ended,” Sedgwick’s Hydraulic Fracturing Digest (September/October 2014).
- Author, “Georgia-Pacific Consumer Products, LP v. Ratner et al.: Proving Commonality in Class Certification Cases Post-Walmart v. Dukes,” Sedgwick’s Toxic Tort and Environmental Law Update (August 2014).
- Author, “Updates: Federal Government’s Efforts to Review and Devise Hydraulic Fracturing Regulations,” Sedgwick’s Hydraulic Fracturing Digest (August 1, 2014).
- Panelist, “Litigation Basics: The Most Common Pitfalls Young Lawyers Make in Litigation ... and How to Avoid Them,” Continuing Legal Education, National Bar Association Annual Convention, Miami, FL (July 29, 2013).
- Panelist, “The Power of a Network: Developing and Capitalizing on Business Relationships,” National Bar Association – Corporate Leadership Forum Academy, Miami, FL (July 30, 2013).
- Author, “Obama Administration Acts on Hydraulic Fracturing Regulations With the Release of Its Revised Rules,” Sedgwick’s Hydraulic Fracturing Digest (June 2013).
- Moderator, “Hydraulic Fracking Regulation and Issues,” D.C. Bar Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Section Panel, Washington, D.C. (May 23, 2013).
- Author, “A Look at the Obama Administration’s Upcoming Hydraulic Fracturing Regulations,” Sedgwick’s Hydraulic Fracturing Digest (April 2013).
- Author, “Product Manufacturers and the Importance of Understanding Personal and Advertising Injury Coverage and Applicable Exclusions,” Sedgwick’s Product Liability Advisory (December 2012).
- Author, “Passing the Smell Test: Twombly, Iqbal, and a California Federal Court’s Requirement of More Specificity in Complaint Against Defendants,” Australian Product Liability Reporter (August/September 2012).
- Author, “Passing the Smell Test: A California Federal Court Requires More Specificity in Complaint Against Defendants,” Sedgwick’s Product Liability Advisory (June/July 2012).
- Author, “Ninth Circuit Denies Review of Air Permit,” Sedgwick’s Toxic Tort and Environmental Law Update (June 2012).
- Author, “A Win for Texas: Fifth Circuit Finds EPA’s Disapproval of State Implementation Plan Arbitrary and Capricious,” Sedgwick’s Toxic Tort and Environmental Law Update (May 2012).
- Author, “AEP v. Connecticut — Global Warming Litigation and Beyond: The Court’s Affirmation of the Clean Air Act and Impact on the Public Nuisance Debates of the Future,” 41 ELR 10973, 10996 ELR News and Analysis (November 2011).
- Author, “Diversity and Thoughts on Building Diversity in the Corporate Legal Team,” The Commercial Law Connection (NBA CLS), Vol. 8, No. 2 (Summer 2011).
- Contributor, “Legal Developments Related to Greenhouse Gas Emissions,” BNA Environment Reporter, Vol. 39, No. 26, 1309-132 (June 27, 2008).
- Author, “Will an Endangerment Finding Lead to Greenhouse Gas New Source Performance Standards for Stationary Sources?” The Environmental Litigator, American Bar Association (Summer 2008).
- Author, “Searching for Certainty in Uncertain Air: NSR and the RMRR Exclusion,” Trends, American Bar Association, Vol. 38, No. 2 (November/December 2006).
- District of Columbia
- South Carolina
- 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
- U.S. District Court (D.D.C.)
- U.S. District Court (D. Md.)
- J.D. (2004) William and Mary School of Law
- B.A. (2000) Georgetown University (American Studies)
- M.P.P. (2004) College of William & Mary (Public Policy)
- Washington, D.C. Super Lawyers “Rising Stars” (2013-2015)
- Nation’s Best Advocates: 40 Lawyers Under 40 Award — National Bar Association
- Lawyers of Color’s Inaugural “Hot List” — Mid-Atlantic Region
- Forty Under 40 Award — Prince George’s County (MD) Social Innovation Fund
- Vanguard Award — Next City (National Urban-Affairs Magazine)
- Leadership Maryland — Class of 2015
- Maryland’s The Daily Record 2015 VIP List
Professional and Community Activities
- Redevelopment Authority of Prince George’s County (MD) — Chairman (profiled in national urban affairs e-magazine, Next City: “Problem-Solving Lawyer Sees Affordable Housing as Catalyst for Change”
- Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) — Board Member (profiled in an EESI publication; presentation to EESI on Mr. Cooper’s work on sustainability issues)
- Teach for America, D.C. Region — Board Member
- Venture Philanthropy Partners — Partners Representative