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Russell S. Abrams

Partner
+1.843.579.5674
Fax +1.843.579.5601
Russell Abrams concentrates his practice on the motor vehicle industry and the distribution and litigation that arises therefrom. In addition, Russ has considerable experience in product liability, warranty, antitrust/trade regulation, franchise law and disputes, construction, international trade, labor relations, trade secret protection, and restrictive covenants. Russ has personally participated in dozens of trials both to a jury and to the bench, including in the areas of product liability, complex commercial transactions, employment, and real property disputes in courts throughout the United States. He has participated in Federal, State or Administrative proceedings in over ten states.

Professional Background

Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Abrams worked at an automotive industry manufacturer for over 10 years where he held several positions including Corporate Counsel, Associate General Counsel, and General Counsel.

As General Counsel and Associate General Counsel for subsidiaries of a global vehicle manufacturing company, Russ gained extensive experience delivering advice in all functional areas, including product liability, warranty, sales and marketing, distribution and motor vehicle dealerships, human resources and labor relations, finance, manufacturing operations, and engineering.

During his tenure as in-house counsel, Mr. Abrams’ work included the following:

Litigation

  • Managing all litigation matters for a $15 Billion manufacturing subsidiary, including all employment, franchise, antitrust and general commercial litigation matters.
  • Managing an extensive docket of product liability litigation ranging from simple warranty matters to catastrophic claims involving multiple deaths, advising on best practices to avoid product related claims and cases, and consulting to executive management relative to NHTSA recall decision making and process.
Commercial/Transactional

  • Drafting and enforcement of all product distribution agreements and motor vehicle dealer agreements, including dealer termination proceedings in state and federal court, licensing issues, and managing major strategic initiatives, such as the market withdrawal of an entire vehicle brand from the marketplace.
  • Managing all commercial transactions for a large luxury automobile manufacturing facility, including support of a multibillion dollar plant expansion and all supplier related issues ranging from new commercial supply agreements to litigation regarding inability or refusal to supply.
  • Advising and training personnel throughout the enterprise on best practices in the areas of antitrust and price discrimination.
Labor and Employment

  • Responsibility for all Labor and Employment matters, including negotiation of collective bargaining agreements; employment contract issues; enforcement of non-compete agreements; enforcement of trade secret protections in the absence of contract; union avoidance; and traditional employment litigation, such as FMLA, discrimination, and harassment matters.
Compliance

  • Lead the implementation of a new internal compliance regime, including dissemination of new integrity codes and conduct policies, including assisting in internal investigations relating to potential FCPA issues and development of proper record keeping processes.
Before beginning his role as an in-house attorney, Mr. Abrams was engaged in private practice as a commercial litigator and trial attorney.  He spent the earliest years of his career as a Deputy District Attorney in Portland, Oregon. During his varied career, Mr. Abrams has tried over 50 jury trials and has participated in the trial or arbitration of matters in the areas of motor vehicle franchise termination, product liability, warranty, land title, will contests, professional athlete endorsement contracts, land sale contracts, high asset dissolution, non-compete agreements, and collective bargaining agreements. 

Motor Vehicle Distribution

  • Responsible for the development and implementation of a distribution strategy for a network of over 500 commercial vehicle dealer locations and over 150 heavy duty engine distributor locations
  • Provided advice to a vehicle manufacturer on restrictions of local law relative to motor vehicle dealers and franchises in 50 states and Canada
  • Developed program to manage transition of truck dealers following the announcement of the discontinuation of manufacture of a brand of vehicles including building a model dealer buyouts, drafting dealer communications, and managing all dealer initiated claims in North America arising out of the discontinuation
Labor and Employment

  • Provided counsel to vehicle manufacturer in negotiation of collective bargaining agreements covering manufacturing facilities in a variety of states
  • Represent a variety of employers in litigation of employment-related cases including claims of discrimination, harassment and retaliation
Commercial/Transactional

  • Managed legal aspects of construction services of a $2 billion expansion of a vehicle manufacturing facility
  • Draft a broad variety of commercial contracts in support of clients in the automotive industry concerning the supply of vehicles and components to be used in manufacture and the aftermarket