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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 considered one of the country’s leading food safety industry lawyers. He is 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 represents national restaurant chains, food manufacturers, and distributors in claims and litigation throughout the country. Over the last 20 years, David has handled more than 2,000 matters arising from outbreak and contamination events, including Listeria, E. coli, Hepatitis A, and Salmonella claims. David also has significant experience in food safety commercial and consumer class action litigation.

In addition to his litigation practice, David regularly advises food industry clients on risk management and policy development. 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 45 jury trials in his career and is a member of The American Board of Trial Advocates.

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 trial counsel for seafood supplier

National coordinating and trial counsel for seafood supplier involved in hepatitis A outbreak litigation in Hawai’i. (Ongoing)

National trial counsel for berry distributor

National counsel for distributor involved in outbreak litigation throughout the Western United States. (2016)

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.

General counsel for restaurant chains

Since 1990, counsel for national restaurant chains in numerous high profile foodborne illness cases throughout the United States.

Professional & Community Activities

  • Board of Directors, Portland Youth Philharmonic, 2015-present
  • Chair, 2009-2011; Board of Directors, 2006-2011 – Business for Culture and the Arts
  • Master Member, Owen M. Panner American Inn of Court, 2010-present
  • Chair, 2010-2012; Board of Directors, 2005-2015 – Classroom Law Project
  • 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, 9th Circuit Lawyer Representatives, Oregon, 2001
  • Member, American Board of Trial Advocates
  • Member, DRI

Professional Recognition

  • Named one of "America's Leading Lawyers for Business" in Commercial Litigation (Oregon) by Chambers USA, 2005, 2007-2017
  • Awarded AV rating by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory
  • Selected to "Oregon Super Lawyers" in Food and Drugs, Thomson Reuters, 2006-2017
  • Selected by Best Lawyers as Portland's "Lawyer of the Year" in Mass Tort Litigation / Class Action Defendants, 2017
  • Awarded "Lifetime Achievement Award" by America's Top 100 Attorneys
  • Named one of the "Best Lawyers in America" in Food and Beverage Law and Product Liability Litigation by Best Lawyers, 2011-present
Recognized by Chambers USA – Chambers and Partners
Lifetime Achievement - America's Top 100 Attorneys