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David Ernst is considered one of the country’s leading food safety industry lawyers. He represents national restaurant chains, food manufacturers, and distributors in food outbreak crisis response, as well as in nationwide food litigation. Over the last 23 years, David has handled more than 2,500 matters in 30 states arising from outbreak events, including Listeria, E. coli, Hepatitis A, Salmonella, and botulism claims. David also has significant experience in food safety commercial and consumer class action litigation.
Recognized leader in the food industry
Chambers USA has repeatedly recognized David as a leader in the food industry – for both the Nationwide: Food & Beverages: Regulatory & Litigation and Oregon: General Commercial – Litigation categories. 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."
Experienced trial lawyer
While his primary focus is to help food industry clients avoid litigation and trials, David has completed more than 50 first-chair jury trials in his career and is a member of The American Board of Trial Advocates, an elite, membership by invitation only organization.
Food regulatory counselor
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 presented to over 50 food industry and legal groups across the country and in China.
Admitted to Practice
U.S. District Court District of Oregon, 1985
U.S. District Court Western District of Washington, 1990
J.D., Lewis & Clark Law School, 1985, cum laude
B.S., Oregon State University, 1982, with honors
Memberships & Affiliations
- Board of Directors, Portland Youth Philharmonic, 2015-2018
- Chair, 2009-2011; Board of Directors, 2006-2011 – Business for Culture and the Arts
- Master Member, Owen M. Panner American Inn of Court, 2010-2016
- 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
- Named a "Recognised Practitioner" in Food & Beverages: Regulatory & Litigation (Nationwide) by Chambers USA, 2019
- Named one of "America's Leading Lawyers for Business" in Commercial Litigation (Oregon) by Chambers USA, 2005, 2007-2019
- Named one of the "Best Lawyers in America" in Food and Beverage Law and Product Liability Litigation by Best Lawyers, 2011-present
- Selected to "Oregon Super Lawyers" in Food and Drugs, Thomson Reuters, 2006-2019
- Awarded AV rating by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory
- 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
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