John L. Tate

Attorney in Louisville, KY
As co-chair of the firm's Torts & Insurance Practice Group, John's national and regional litigation practice focuses on defending complex product liability lawsuits and managing serial litigation. His extensive trial experience includes admiralty claims, construction and insurance disputes, intellectual property, and a variety of personal injury matters. John has tried cases to jury verdicts in eight states.

John also maintains an active appellate practice, representing appellees, appellants, and amicus curiae in state and federal courts.

One of John's special interests is the application of Daubert criteria to exclude substandard opinion testimony. Reported decisions on this topic include Morehouse v. Louisville Ladder, 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21766 (June 28, 2004); Reynolds v. Freightliner, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 97244 (June 21, 2006); Hayes v. MTD Products, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 66109 (Sept. 6, 2007); Walker v. Louisville Ladder, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9917 (Feb. 9, 2009); and Scarvelli v. Leatt Corporation, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 98366 (July 15, 2013).

Recent Assignments

•In the past five years, lead counsel in jury trials in Ohio, Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Florida
•As appellate counsel for a steel products manufacturer, obtained ruling overturning a $5.9 million compensatory and punitive damage verdict arising from alleged metallurgical defects in an agricultural implement
•Briefed and argued Giddings & Lewis v. IRI, 348 S.W.3d 729 (2011), the Kentucky Supreme Court decision adopting the Economic Loss Doctrine

What Clients Say

John Tate is one of the best trial lawyers I have worked with.
- Best Lawyers, 2010

Recent Articles and Speaking Engagements

•Products Liability Desk Reference: A Fifty-State Compendium, with J. Brittany Cross Carlson, co-author of Kentucky Chapter, December 2013
•Fire and Explosion Litigation Strategies,DRI Product Liability Conference, National Harbor, Md., April 2013
•Federal Jurisdiction and Venue,Product Liability Law & Strategy, v. 31, no. 1, July 2012
•The 'Firefighter's Rule', with Kristen K. Orr, Stites & Harbison PLLC, Client Alert, November 2, 2011
•Litigation Prevention: Using Litigation Experience to Help Reduce Product Risks,4th Annual Product Safety & Liability Conference, Washington, D.C., October 2011
•Expert Reports: Chapter 4 Litigators on Experts, with Clark C. Johnson, Michael K. Kim, American Bar Association, Section of Litigation, October 2010
•Warnings & Instructions From A to Z,3d Annual Product Safety & Liability Conference, Washington, D.C., October 2010
•How to Survive a Daubert Challenge,AICPA National Conference on Forensic Accounting, Boston, Mass., September 2010
•Establishing Diversity in Medical Device Litigation,Product Liability Law & Strategy, v. 29, no. 2, August 2010
•Daubert and Rule 702: Effectively Presenting and Challenging Experts in Federal Court,ALM Webinar, January 2010
•Witnesses (Chapter 8, Kentucky Civil Practice at Trial, 2008),University of Kentucky College of Law Office of Continuing Legal Education, September 2008
•The Fifth Element: Adding to the Daubert Criteria,Product Liability Law & Strategy, v. 26, no. 6, December 2007 (co-author with Lucy Heskins)
•Federal Rule 26 Expert Witness Disclosures: A Primer for the Practitioner,Product Liability Law & Stratety, Volume 25, Number 3 (co-author with Erin Dougherty, former Stites & Harbison associate), September 2006
•STOP! Don't Take That Expert's Deposition,Insurance Coverage Law Bulletin, v. 3, no. 12, January 2005
•Recognizing and Managing Serial Litigation,Product Liability Law & Strategy, v. 22, no. 9, March 2004
•Defending Complex Product Liability Lawsuits,Defense Trial Counsel of West Virginia, Morgantown, W.Va., June 2002

Before Stites & Harbison

John's first career was teaching high school and college students in history, English literature, and rhetoric. He later spent seven years in an environmental regulatory agency before going into private practice.

More Than Stites & Harbison

A long-time supporter of the arts, John is a member of the board of directors of Actors Theatre of Louisville. He was previously a member of the board of directors of the American Lung Association of Kentucky and served as board president in 1994-96. John also served as trustee of St. Francis School in Goshen and on the board of the Louisville Audubon Society.

Besides Stites & Harbison

John and his wife, Phyllis, live on a working farm outside of Louisville, raise and board horses, and clean a lot of stalls.

Professional Accolades

Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers

Martindale-Hubbell AV-rated

Best Lawyers in America, Bet-the-Company Litigation, Commercial Litigation, Personal Injury Litigation - Defendants and Product Liability Litigation - Defendants (1995-2014)

Best Lawyers in America, Louisville Area Lawyer of the Year for Defense of Product Liability Litigation (2012)

Kentucky Super Lawyers (2007-14)

Kentucky Super Lawyers, Top 50 Lawyers in Kentucky (2007, 2010-14)

Louisville Magazine Top Lawyer (2014)

Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville, Distinguished Alumnus award (2011)

Benchmark: Litigation Magazine, Litigation Star (2008, 2009, 2013, 2014)


Super Lawyers honors Stites & Harbison's Kentucky attorneys for 2013-14

Eighty-nine Stites & Harbison attorneys honored by Best Lawyers in America for 2014

Super Lawyers honors Stites & Harbison's Kentucky attorneys

Best Lawyers names Stites & Harbison attorneys as 2012 Lawyers of the Year

Seventy-five Stites & Harbison attorneys honored in Best Lawyers in America

Thirty-five Stites & Harbison attorneys selected for inclusion on Kentucky Super Lawyers for 2001

Seventy-two Stites & Harbison attorneys honored in Best Lawyers in America

Firm Leadership

Torts & Insurance Practice Group, co-chair
Stites University

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Peer Rating 5.0 of 5

Areas of Law

  • Business Litigation
  • Appellate Advocacy
  • Insurance Coverage
  • Bad Faith & Regulatory Litigation
  • Intellectual Property Litigation
  • Torts & Insurance Practice
  • Health Care - Litigation & Investigations
  • Entertainment/Leisure/Media
  • Class Action
  • Mass Action & Multi-District Litigation
  • Pharmaceuticals & Medical Devices Litigation
  • Litigation & Appeals
  • Product Liability Litigation
  • Industrial/Manufacturing Facilities
  • Pharmaceutical/Medical Devices


Peer Rating


Overall Peer Rating

5.0 out of 5.0
  • Meets very high criteria of general ethical standards
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Experience & Credentials



Admission Details

Admitted in 1981, Kentucky
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky
U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana
U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit
U.S. Supreme Court

Law School Attended

University of Louisville Louis D. Brandeis School of Law
Class of 1981
magna cum laude

University Attended

Wake Forest University
Class of 1969

University of Louisville
Class of 1971

Birth Information

Born in 1947
Honolulu, Hawaii, July 25, 1947

Bar Fellowship

American College of Trial LawyersMartindale-Hubbell AV-ratedBest Lawyers in America, Bet-the-Company Litigation, Commercial Litigation, Personal Injury Litigation - Defendants and Product Liability Litigation - Defendants (1995-2014)Best Lawyers in America, Louisville Area Lawyer of the Year for Defense ... More

Contact Information






Send email to John L. Tate

Office Information
John L. Tate
 400 West Market Street, Suite 1800,
Louisville, KY 40202


Stites & Harbison, PLLC (Louisville, Kentucky)

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