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National Product Liability Group Joins Spencer Fane

March 26, 2024

Team Brings Unique In-House Perspective to the Firm

Spencer Fane LLP is pleased to announce William Purnell and Vanessa Merassaint have joined the firm’s Litigation and Dispute Resolution practice group. Purnell joins the firm as a partner in the Phoenix office and Merassaint joins as of counsel in the firm’s Tampa office.

Purnell brings the unique experience of serving as in-house counsel to a Fortune 500 company and both attorneys have been recognized by The Legal 500 for their deep experience defending consumer products, heavy construction, and industrial equipment manufacturers against product liability and toxic torts claims.

“Each time we welcome an attorney to our firm we benefit from their unique perspectives and backgrounds in multiple ways,” Spencer Fane Chair Patrick J. Whalen said. “They not only deepen the value we provide to clients, but their shared commitment to core values like humility, collaboration, and inclusivity further strengthen our company culture. Purnell and Merassaint add to our firm in both influential ways.”

William Purnell – Partner, Litigation and Dispute Resolution

Purnell’s experience as an outside general counsel is informed, in part, by his unique perspective of having served as in-house attorney with two global manufacturing companies. As a leader in the diversity, equity, and inclusion community, he is also adept at building collaborative teams capable of solving clients’ most challenging legal problems. Purnell’s practice is focused primarily on defending clients against toxic tort claims in industries ranging from consumer products to heavy construction and industrial manufacturing. He also has experience advising clients on commercial litigation, bankruptcy litigation, e-discovery, personal injury matters, records management, and product liability cases, including mass torts, premises liability, and environmental claims and class actions. Purnell received his undergraduate degree from Tougaloo College and earned his Juris Doctor at Vanderbilt University Law School.

Vanessa Merassaint – Of Counsel, Litigation and Dispute Resolution

Merassaint regularly defends clients through all phases of complex toxic tort litigation, impressively protecting the value of products while preserving companies’ reputational and financial goals with a wealth of trusted strategies. With extensive experience in talcum powder and asbestos-related matters as well as premises liability litigation, Merassaint’s concentrated practice and successful track record have secured her reputation as an insightful, dependable litigator in matters involving large liability risks. She drafts legal memoranda, dispositive motions, and discovery requests and responses while maintaining a high-volume case load. Specifically, Merassaint has drafted pleadings and motions to strike, for summary judgment, for sanctions, and to dismiss. She also handles expert discoveries and has taken depositions with more than 40 parties. Merassaint completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Central Florida and earned her Juris Doctor cum laude at the Florida Coastal School of Law.