Elbert Dorn focuses his practice on defending corporate clients in high exposure cases. Drawing on vast experience gained from over thirty (30) years of defending automotive, pharmaceutical, and other Fortune 100 companies, Elbert understands how to personalize corporations and their legal positions before local judges and juries. He also has extensive experience in commercial litigation and has represented companies and individuals in shareholder, accounting, dissolution, and valuation disputes. Combining his rural South Carolina heritage with sophisticated insight into complex legal and scientific principles, Elbert excels at telling the client’s story in a compelling and convincing manner in the courtroom.
With a thorough understanding of legal issues in product liability, life sciences, and related fields, Elbert knows how to navigate around procedural pitfalls and focus on the substance that helps prevail. His tireless pursuit of legal arguments at the trial level has culminated in appellate opinions which have transformed product liability law in South Carolina – including the required proof of an alternative feasible design, the exclusive application of the risk-utility test in design defect cases, the enhanced element of reliability for expert opinions, the exclusion of post-manufacture evidence, and the enforcement of the substantial similarity standard for other incident evidence. He has also worked extensively with the advancement and application of pre-emption defenses.
In connection with automotive products litigation, Dorn has personally handled and tried to verdict cases for several automotive manufacturers involving alleged defects of handling and stability (rollover), sudden or unintended acceleration (electrical and/or mechanical throttle and speed control systems), seatbelts, airbags, seat backs, roof structure, door latches, glass (glazing), tires, fuel system, and crashworthiness matters. He has served as counsel for manufacturers of safety restraint systems in seatbelt and airbag product litigation. He is intimately familiar with the substantive and procedural issues faced by automotive and component part manufacturers in product liability litigation.
In the class action field, Dorn has defended putative and certified class actions for major corporations in South Carolina state and federal courts. He is thoroughly familiar with the complex notice and approval processes required for settlement or other resolution of class actions, as well as application of the Class Action Fairness Act.
Community & Professional
- International Association of Defense Counsel (IADC)
- South Carolina Judicial Invitational Conference
- South Carolina Defense Trial Attorneys Association, President (2007)
Outside Nexsen Pruet
Elbert is married and the proud father of four children. Residing in Pawleys Island, he enjoys spending time with his family at the beach, fishing and boating, and camping at nearby state parks. He is also an avid golfer.
Elbert is an active member and served on the Vestry (2013 – 2017) of All Saints Anglican Church in Pawleys Island.
Elbert has served as statewide counsel for manufacturers of safety restraint systems in seatbelt and airbag product litigation. He has personally handled and tried to verdict cases for automotive manufacturers involving:
- alleged defects of handling and stability (rollover)
- sudden or unintended acceleration (electrical and/or mechanical throttle and speed control systems)
- seat backs
- roof structure
- door latches
- glass (glazing)
- fuel system
- Listed in Best Lawyer's in America for "Lawyer of the Year" in Charleston, S.C. in, Product Liability Litigation - Defendants, 2022
- Listed in Best Lawyers in America for Product Liability Litigation and Commercial Litigation, since 2007
- Martindale-Hubbell "AV" Preeminent Peer Review Rated
- Punitive Damages: Strategies For and Against - Nexsen Pruet's Litigation CLE Series; February 2019
- The Exclusion of Other Incident Evidence in Product Liability Litigation - International Association of Defense Counsel (IADC) | Product Liability Newsletter; July 2013
- No Other Alternative: Challenging Plaintiff’s Proof of Reasonable Alternative Design - IADC Product Liability publication; February 2012
- South Carolina
- U.S. District Court, District of South Carolina
- U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit