Karen Woodward


Karen Woodward


What Makes Karen Deliberately Different

When litigation looks like “The Hunger Games,” Karen is your Katniss Everdeen. She brings order to chaos and has the guts it takes to win the game. Karen also counsels clients through compliance and risk management issues, so they never have to play the game in the first place. (Note: In “Sedgwick, the Movie,” Karen would like to be played by Jennifer Lawrence, but she realizes this is a stretch).

Overview Overview Experience Credentials

Karen Woodward is a trial attorney who focuses her practice on the defense of complex products liability and business litigation matters. Karen is a mass torts specialist and has extensive experience coordinating national and statewide litigation against medical device, food, pharmaceutical, and tobacco product manufacturers, as well as defending these entities and other product manufacturers in individual products liability actions involving catastrophic injuries. She is the chair of Sedgwick’s Life Sciences Practice Group and is active in the firm’s Food Law Task Force.

Karen works in collaboration with her clients to serve their business and strategic objectives. It is her professional mission to provide legal services that are value-based. To this end, Karen’s case management practices are specifically tailored to the demands of a particular action, in conjunction with her client’s needs, and with an emphasis on forward thinking and efficiency at all times.

Representative Matters

  • Coordinating nationwide litigation against medical device manufacturer in matters involving 4000+ plaintiffs and overseeing a cross-firm defense team of 30+ individuals. Responsibilities include serving as the face of the company in multi-district litigation pending in federal court in Minnesota, developing and implementing overall litigation and settlement strategy, developing case management orders and internal litigation handling procedures, preparing company witnesses for deposition, review and oversight of billing, conducting due diligence and hiring litigation vendors, participating in successful mediation of multiple matters. 
  • Defending infant food manufacturer in multiple individual products liability actions involving allegations of foodborne illness, including preparation and defense of company witnesses at deposition, selection and preparation of expert witnesses, coordination and implementation of discovery and overall case strategy, and jury research oversight and participation.
  • Coordinating statewide pharmaceutical litigation involving over 4000 plaintiffs and a defense team of over 40 individuals, including development of case management guidelines and court orders, direction of case-specific discovery, expert preparation, deposition of plaintiffs and treating physicians, as well as pre-trial preparation.
  • Managing nationwide litigation involving allegedly defective medical device, including oversight of local counsel, coordination of all discovery, and working with company personnel and scientists to develop the corporate story of the case. 
  • Serving as California lead counsel in multiple pharmaceutical mass tort actions.
  • Representing food and pharmaceutical companies in statutory penalty class actions arising from alleged violations of consumer protection statutes.
  • Obtaining Summary Judgment in favor of product manufacturer on high profile, statewide consumer fraud class action involving claims of deceptive practices and conspiracy and seeking disgorgement of profits and restitution. Summary judgment was obtained after the class had been certified, all discovery (including all experts’ depositions) had been completed, and just prior to commencement of trial. 
  • Obtaining Judgment on the Pleadings of consumer fraud claims against commercial lending entity, saving the client from production of information relating to its other customers and what would have been massive discovery relating to those customers. 
  • Prevailing on Motion to Strike wage and hour class action allegations within two months of the case being filed.

Karen has also procured favorable results for her clients — from negotiating early settlement to prevailing on dispositive motions to obtaining defense verdicts at trial — in numerous individual products liability and general liability actions.

Presentations and Publications

  • Co-author, “Settlement Strategies,” Defense Counsel Training Manual, Second Edition, IADC (August 2016).
  • Speaker, “The Future of the MDL Paradigm,” Mass Torts Made Perfect, Las Vegas, NV (October 15-16, 2015).
  • Author, “A Brief Defense Guide to Witness Preparation and Ascertaining the Truth During Mass Tort Litigation,” ABA Mass Torts Committee, News & Developments (July 2015).
  • Speaker, “Actions Speak Louder Than Words — Implement Law Firm Best Management Practices — Today!” IADC/FDCC Joint Law Firm Management Conference, Chicago, IL (May 14-15, 2015).
  • Speaker, “A Look into the Future in Life Sciences Litigation,” Claims and Litigation Management Alliance Annual Conference, Palm Springs, CA (March 25-27, 2015).
  • Co-author, “The Evolution of the Common Benefit Order,” Litigation News (Spring 2015).
  • Co-author, “Bringing the Cyber War to the Medical Device Battleground,” ABA Mass Torts Newsletter   (Winter 2015).
  • Co-author, “Food Defense in Food Litigation: A Vulnerability Assessment,” Food Safety Magazine (February/March 2014).
  • Speaker, “Rainmaking,” California Women Lawyers Annual Conference, San Francisco, CA (May 4, 2013). 
  • Speaker, “Recall Readiness:  How to Survive and Thrive before, during and after a Product Recall,” Claims and Litigation Management Alliance Annual Conference, San Antonio, TX (April
    9-11, 2013).
  • Author, “It’s a Pom Wonderful Life for California Defendants – Or is it?” ABA Mass Torts Newsletter (Spring 2013).
  • Co-author, “The Seeds of Pom Wonderful,” ABA Products Liability Newsletter (Spring 2013).
  • Speaker, “A Look Behind the Curtain: Anatomy of a Mass Tort,” Torts & Products Liability Committees’ Joint CLE Seminar, Steamboat Springs, CO (January 31, 2013). 
  • Speaker, “Managing Mediations in Mass Tort Actions: Perspectives from the Insured, Insurer and Defense Counsel,” Claims and Litigation Management Alliance’s Annual Conference (March 28, 2012).
  • Interview, “Get to Know … Karen Woodward, Partner, Sedgwick LLP,” Litigation Management Magazine (Winter 2012).
  • Co-author, “Release of One is Release of All, But Not for Much Longer,” The Daily Journal (October 17, 2011).
  • Featured, “A Test for Generic Drug Suits: Only in California can Brand-Name Drugmakers be Sued over Generic Woes,” The Daily Journal (September 7, 2011).
  • Speaker, “Successful Strategies for Managing Mass Torts,” Council on Litigation Management’s Annual Conference (March 23, 2011).
  • Speaker, “What to Do When Your Case Becomes a Mass Tort,” American Bar Association’s Environmental, Mass Torts & Products Liability Committees Joint CLE Seminar (January 29, 2011).
  • Speaker, “Navigating the Fall-Out from Preemption: Preserving the Defense in Your Device Cases and Developing Strategies for FDA Testimony in Drug Litigation,” American Conference Institute’s 15th Anniversary Drug and Medical Device Litigation (December 7-9, 2010).
  • Speaker, “How to Value a Case,” Council on Litigation Management Annual Conference (March 24, 2010).
  • Speaker, “Tapping the Talents of Medical Records Review Professionals to Leverage Litigation Defense Dollars,” Council on Litigation Management Annual Conference (March 24, 2010).
  • Speaker, “Legal Ethics for the Modern Lawyer,” co-presented at the offices of a Sedgwick client (October 29, 2009).
  • Speaker, “Tales From the Trenches – Lessons Learned from Broker Dealer Trials,” co-presented at the offices of a Sedgwick client (August 26, 2009). 
  • Co-author, Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Trade Practices Statutes chapter; Iowa Consumer Fraud Act chapter, 50 State Survey of Consumer Fraud Law, American Bar Association (Fall 2009). 
  • Speaker, “Creative and Strategic Use of Written Discovery,” Sedgwick University (February 18, 2009).
  • Speaker, “Help Us Help You: The Medical Device Case from an Expert’s Perspective,” ABA Medical Device Conference, Fort Worth, Texas (October 7, 2008).


  • California
  • Texas
  • 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
  • 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals


  • J.D. (1996) Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law
  • B.A. (1992) Centre College,  cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa


  • Inducted into the exclusive Order of the Barristers and voted Outstanding 3L Advocate by her law school peers
  • Participated on 10-state and national mock trial and moot court teams

Memberships and Affiliations

  • International Association of Defense Counsel (IADC) — In-House and Law Firm Management Committee chairperson for webinar programming
  • Claims and Litigation Management Alliance — state chairperson for California and Program Committee member
  • American Bar Association — Mass Torts Committee, Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Subcommittee, co-chair
  • Sedgwick’s Women’s Forum, former vice-chair