Thomas Tobin is a partner in Gordon & Rees’s San Diego and Los Angeles offices. He is a member of the firm's Environmental/Toxic Tort and Commercial Litigation practice groups. His practice focuses on chemical exposure litigation, products liability, environmental litigation, and business litigation. Mr. Tobin represents a variety of clients against claims of personal injury as well as property and business damage from alleged exposure to chemicals (including benzene, silica, asbestos, diacetyl, carbon monoxide, pesticides, herbicides and many others), toxic waste, and other substances. He also defends clients in litigation involving federal and state environmental statutes.
Mr. Tobin’s environmental background includes a two-year internship with the Environmental Law Division of the United States Army Legal Services Agency where he provided consultation to the Army on a wide array of environmental issues including the Clean Air Act, RCRA, CERCLA, and the Toxic Substances Control Act.
State Bar of California
Barrister (Alumni) - American Inns of Court (Welsh Chapter)
Defense Research Institute
San Diego County Bar Association
President of the Princeton Club of San Diego (2001-2006)
Princeton University, Alumni Schools Committee
Francis Parker School Alumni Council
United States Army Reserves, Captain (1993-2003)
Western States Petroleum Associates
Mr. Tobin recently obtained a favorable result for a national solvent manufacturer in United States District Court in Massachusetts in a trace benzene case where plaintiff alleged he developed Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia, a rare subtype of acute myeloid leukemia, as a result of exposure to various kinds of petroleum-based products. After a multi-day evidentiary hearing in the matter of Milward v. Acuity Specialty Products Group, Inc. et al., United States District Court of Massachusetts Civil Action No. 07-11944-GAO, where both sides presented expert testimony on the issue of general causation (whether benzene is a recognized risk factor for this particular disease), Judge George A. O’Toole concluded in his Opinion and Order that plaintiff’s proffered expert testimony is inadmissible because it did not meet the standard set forth in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. 509 U.S. 579 (1993), and it progeny. This may result in the ultimate dismissal of the matter, as plaintiffs are unable to establish a causal link between the alleged disease and chemicals at issue. This ruling may also serve as a deterrent for plaintiffs claiming a link between trace benzene exposure and certain diseases.
Mr. Tobin recently secured a significant victory in the California Court of Appeal for the Second District. In an unpublished opinion in Navarrette v. Armite Laboratories, Inc. (Case No. B203997, April 20, 2009) the Court affirmed a trial court’s order dismissing a toxic tort complaint after sustaining demurrers on statute of limitations and causation grounds without leave to amend. The case involved claims of injury from exposure to mixed dust and silica by more than 200 former employees of the Price Pfister foundry in Pacoima, California. Defendants were 78 manufacturers and suppliers of products used at the foundry. Plaintiffs claimed a wide array of injuries, including silicosis, tongue cancer, and hypertension. The ruling is significant for two reasons. First, it disposed of a large number of potential claims at an early stage of litigation. Second, the substance of the ruling was significant because the Court enforced the pleading requirement for delaying the accrual of the statute of limitations-namely, that plaintiffs seeking the benefit of delayed accrual of the statute of limitations must plead specific facts in the complaint to show the reasonableness of their delay. The victory was covered in the September 2, 2009 issue of The Voice, the weekly newsletter of the Defense Research Institute.
Presentations and Publications
Since 2002, Mr. Tobin has served as a Contributing Editor to several Harris-Martin Publications on Silica Litigation, Asbestos Litigation, Benzene, and "Pesticides, Solvents & Fumes." He also is on the Editorial Board of the National Legal Review's Silica Litigation News. He has also given presentations on topics involving toxic tort litigation to national audiences.
Diacetyl & The Litigation, National Conference on New Industrial Toxins - HarrisMartin Publishing (Fall 2012)
Silica Litigation: Past, Present & Future, National Conference of International Packaged Concrete Manufacturer’s Association (Spring 2005)
Mixed Dust Litigation, National Conference on Silica Litigation – Harris Martin Publishing (Fall 2003)
Agricultural Chem & Pesticides
J.D., George Washington University, 1996
A.B., cum laude, Classics, Princeton University, 1993 (four-year Army ROTC scholarship)
Judicial Extern for United States District Court Judge Rudi M. Brewster
John Arthur Hanson Prize for Excellence in Latin, 1990