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Admitted to Practice

  • Oregon, 1985
  • Washington, 1990
  • U.S. District Court District of Oregon, 1985
  • U.S. District Court Western District of Washington, 1990

David A. Ernst

David Ernst is a seasoned trial lawyer and risk management counselor acclaimed for having “developed an impressive national reputation in food outbreak disputes” and “respected for his expertise in class actions relating to the food and beverage industries” by Chambers USA: “America’s Leading Lawyers for Business.” David is a recognized national leader for this type of work, regularly representing national restaurant chains, food manufacturers, and distributors in cases across the country. For over 20 years, David has handled more than 1,500 matters arising from outbreak and contamination events, including listeria, E.coli, Hepatitis A and Salmonella claims. David also has experience in food safety commercial and consumer class action litigation. He also advises clients on risk management and policy development to help reduce litigation risk and exposure. David is a thought-leader in this space, having spoken to dozens of industry and legal groups across the country and in China.

While his primary focus is to help clients avoid litigation and trials, David has completed more than 40 jury trials in his career and is a member of The American Board of Trial Advocates.

David is also named as one of the "Best Lawyers in America" by Woodward/White, where he is one of only 14 attorneys recognized nationwide for achievement in Food and Beverage Law.

Representative Experience

Food safety counsel for restaurant chains, food manufacturers

Numerous engagements for restaurant chains, food manufacturers, and distributors on food safety risk management, policy development, and food outbreak response plans. (Ongoing)

National coordinating counsel for seafood supplier

National counsel for seafood supplier involved in 2012 Salmonella outbreak throughout the United States. (Ongoing)

Trial counsel for produce transporter

Handled commercial loss claims arising from E. coli outbreak on the east coast.

Trial counsel for produce supplier

Involved in large customer claims in Oregon.

General counsel for beef processor

Coordinating counsel for West Coast beef processor in 2007 national E. coli O157:H7 outbreak, resulting in dozens of claims. (Ongoing)

Lead counsel for produce distributor*

Lead counsel for produce distributor in 2006 E. coli outbreak in Utah resulting in numerous significant claims.

General counsel for restaurant chain*

National coordinating counsel for restaurant chain associated with a 2006 E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in the Midwest.

General counsel for Chi Chi's restaurant*

National coordinating counsel for Chi Chi's restaurant chain in 2003 Hepatitis A outbreak in Pennsylvania. This was the largest Hepatitis A outbreak in U.S. history and resulted in more than 600 claims.

General counsel for peanut butter manufacturer*

Counsel for peanut butter manufacturer in national salmonella outbreak in 2007.

General counsel for restaurant chains

Since 1990, counsel for national restaurant chains in numerous high profile foodborne illness cases throughout the United States.
* Denotes experience completed at a prior firm

Additional Qualifications

  • Shareholder, Bullivant Houser Bailey PC, Portland, Ore., 1992-2011

Professional & Community Activities

  • Chair, 2009-2011; Board of Directors, 2006-2011 – Business for Culture and the Arts
  • Chair, Classroom Law Project Board of Directors, 2010-2012
  • Master Member, Owen M. Panner American Inn of Court, 2010-2011
  • Board of Directors, Classroom Law Project, 2005-present
  • Co-chair, Portland Managing Partners Roundtable, 2007-2008
  • Board of Directors, Multnomah Bar Foundation, 2005-2007
  • Program Co-chair, Second Annual DRI Conference on Food Liability, Chicago, 2006
  • Program Chair, First Annual DRI Conference on Food Liability, St. Louis, 2005
  • Board of Directors, Multnomah Bar Association, 2005-2009
  • Board of Visitors, Lewis and Clark Law School, 2003-present
  • Chair, Ninth Circuit Lawyer Representatives, Oregon, 2001
  • American Board of Trial Advocates
  • Oregon Association of Defense Counsel

Professional Recognition

  • Named one of "America's Leading Lawyers for Business" in Commercial Litigation (Oregon) by Chambers USA, 2005, 2007-2016
  • Awarded AV rating by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory
  • Selected to "Oregon Super Lawyers" in Personal Injury Defense: Products, Thomson Reuters, 2006-2016
  • Named one of the "Best Lawyers in America" in Food and Beverage Law and Product Liability Litigation by Best Lawyers, 2011-present
"Calm, cool, and collected." -Chambers USA 2016