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Steven W. Ouzts

Shareholder | Columbia, SC |

souzts@turnerpadget.com   |   vcard   |   803-227-4244

Biography

Steven Ouzts began his legal career at Turner Padget in 1981 and spent the early years of his practice defending companies and individuals in various types of personal injury lawsuits.  In 1985, he was retained as South Carolina counsel by a national building products manufacturer that was being sued in product liability litigation in South Carolina and other states by school districts, state governments, and other institutional and commercial building owners who alleged claims for property damage caused by the use of asbestos in building materials installed in their buildings.  As a young lawyer, Steve was privileged to work with some of the best trial lawyers and was involved in some of the first jury trials of asbestos property damage cases in the country. Building upon this experience, Steve has represented construction product manufacturers, equipment manufacturers, chemical companies, corporate officers and directors, construction contractors, and insurance companies in various types of individual and class action litigation involving product liability, toxic tort, chemical exposure, environmental contamination, construction defect, construction contract, and insurance contract litigation.

The intersection of the law with science and technology has been a common theme in Steve’s practice, and he continues to explore the effects of building technology, nanotechnology and the environmental changes on his clients’ businesses. In addition to his trial practice, Steve also enjoys appellate work.  In the course of his career, he has tried cases in state and federal courts and handled appeals in the South Carolina Supreme Court, the South Carolina Court of Appeals, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. He also has served as counsel for his clients in other jurisdictions, including North Carolina, Georgia, Texas and Illinois.

Representative Matters

Product Liability

  • Served as national coordinating counsel and trial counsel for a leading building product manufacturer in individual and class action litigation involving a type of exterior wall cladding known as Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems (EIFS). Through more than a decade of litigation in numerous state and federal courts, Steve guided his client to a successful conclusion of the litigation with minimal impact on the continued growth and prosperity of the client’s business.
  • For more than 20 years, Steve has defended a national construction products manufacturer against lawsuits by institutional building owners who claimed property damage and personal injury caused by asbestos-containing materials installed in their buildings.
  • Currently serves as statewide counsel for several manufacturers of industrial and marine equipment in product liability cases alleging claims for personal injury and wrongful death due to exposure to asbestos associated with the use of the equipment.


Environmental/Toxic/Mass Torts

  • Defended a general contractor in a lawsuit brought by a subcontractor who alleged that he and his entire crew suffered permanent neurological injuries and cognitive impairment caused by exposure to hazardous chemical contamination on the worksite, a closed U.S. Navy base in Charleston, South Carolina. The case was ordered to binding arbitration. Based upon the evidence introduced at the arbitration hearing, Steve secured the dismissal of the main lawsuit and several other related personal injury claims for a nominal settlement, amounting to less than one percent of the total claim for damages.
  • Represented the former president of a specialty chemical company who was sued individually, along with his company and fellow employees, by neighboring property owners who filed class action lawsuits alleging their property had been contaminated with dioxins and other organic chemicals emitted from the chemical plant. Steve obtained the dismissal of the litigation with no payment of damages on behalf of his client.
  • Successfully defended a chemical manufacturing company against claims by an individual that he contracted acute myelogenous leukemia as a result of exposure to textile dyes made with chemicals produced by the company. Steve obtained the dismissal of the lawsuit against his client with no liability.

Construction

  • On behalf of a general contractor for two school construction projects in Greenville, South Carolina, Steve sued the electrical subcontractor and its surety for damages caused by the electrical subcontractor’s deficient work and failure to complete the project on time. Steve obtained a favorable settlement for the client of over $500,000.


Insurance

  • Represents an insurance company sued by a welding products manufacturer that contends that it is entitled to insurance coverage under numerous comprehensive general liability policies for hundreds of lawsuits filed throughout the country by individuals who claim they suffered personal injuries caused by exposure to the insured’s welding rod products.
  • Serves as counsel to insurance companies in commercial contract, fraud, and trade secret litigation arising out of reinsurance and alternative market reinsurance arrangements.

Appellate

  • Represented a product manufacturer in an appeal from a class action decision raising an issue of first impression in South Carolina concerning whether the state’s unique class action rule allowed an opt-in method of class notice and class membership.

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