Douglas J. Suter is a partner with Hahn Loeser who has extensive experience representing employers nationwide in Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cases. This includes hearings before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission and Mine Safety and Health Administration litigation. He also handles other key labor and employment matters including wrongful death defense, defense of employers in multi-employer worksite accidents and fatalities, workers compensation matters, violation of a specific safety requirement (VSSR) actions, intentional tort actions and construction litigation.
Over the past few decades, Douglas has handled several major OSHA-related cases. In 1992, he defended the first Ohio company charged with criminal willful OSHA violations by the U.S. Justice Department following a workplace fatality. In addition, he has been involved in at least 100 wrongful-death and significant-injury cases and more than 300 OSHA cases, including numerous OSHA cases with penalties of nearly $400,000.
Douglas also has experience with Department of Transportation and motor carrier rules and regulations and has litigated numerous trucking matters.
Douglas is a sought-after expert on OSHA, workplace safety and liability matters. He has lectured and written about OSHA matters for The Ohio State University, Marshall University, the American Society of Safety Engineers, the Ohio Division of Safety and Hygiene, the Builders Exchange of Central Ohio, the Ohio State Bar Association Continuing Legal Education Institute, the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce, the National Business Institute, The County Engineers Association of Ohio, The American Gas Association, Ohio Rural Electric Cooperative and numerous trade associations and safety councils. In 2001, he represented the Builders Exchange of Central Ohio in contract negotiations with the United States Department of Labor, resulting in the OSHA/Builders Exchange Partnership Agreement.
Douglas obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in business administration with honors from West Liberty State College, where he was named management student of the year. He obtained his Juris Doctorate degree cum laude from the Capital University Law School, where he was one of the editors of the Law Review. Douglas was appointed by the American Bar Association to the Occupational Safety and Health Law Committee in 1992.
- In 2015, Douglas scored a major victory for MAHLE Engine Components USA, Inc. in MAHLE’s challenge to OSHA’s enforcement of the OSHA lead standard for general industry. Following a trial where Douglas cross-examined OSHA’s Chief Medical Officer and Director of the Office of Occupational Medicine, the Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission in a 29 page Decision threw out $84,000 in OSHA penalties issued to MAHLE and vacated every lead citation issued to MAHLE in OSHA Inspection No. 687758. Secretary of Labor v. MAHLE Engine Components USA, Inc., OSHRC Docket No. 13-0490 (Health case). Douglas was successful in getting the United States Department of Labor Directorate of Enforcement Programs and OSHA’s Region V Administrator to remove MAHLE from OSHA’s Severe Violator List.
- In 2014, Douglas successful litigated and resolved Secretary of Labor v. MAHLE Engine Components USA, Inc., (OSHRC Docket #13-0489 – safety case) with OSHA forced to vacate all electrical safety citations issued to MAHLE’s McConnellsville, Ohio facility a week before the scheduled trial (which OSHA previously refused to do at a mandatory OSHA Settlement Conference), with a corresponding $143,500 reduction in proposed OSHA penalties.
- In 2015-2016, Douglas successfully litigated and resolved $230,000.00 in OSHA penalties and citations issued to Industrial Container Services by Washington OSHA, resulting in the vacating and reclassification of numerous citations and a $180,000.00 reduction in proposed OSHA penalties, In re: Industrial Container Services WA LLC, Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals, State of Washington, Docket No. 15 W0115.
Capital University Law School, J.D., cum laude, 1988
Honors & Activities: Dean’s List; Law Review, Articles Editor; Order of the Curia National Honorary Law Fraternity; Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity; Who’s Who Among American Law Students, 1987
West Liberty State College, B.S., Business, with honors, 1985
Honors & Activities: Dean’s List; School of Business, Management Student of the Year; Student Judiciary, President
American Bar Association, Occupational Safety & Health Law Committee
Society of Ohio Safety Engineers
American Society of Safety Engineers
National Safety Council
Builders Exchange of Central Ohio Safety Advisory Council
State of Ohio, 1988
U.S. District Courts for the Northern District of Ohio, 2004; the Southern District of Ohio, 1989; U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, 1991
The Best Lawyers in America®, Employment Law-Management, Labor Law-Management, 2013-19
The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100
Ohio Super Lawyers®, 2010-19; Top 5 Ohio, 2017; Top 100 Ohio, 2015-17, 2019; Top 50 Columbus, 2015-19
Columbus C.E.O. Magazine, Top Attorneys in Columbus, Ohio, 2009-16
Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, Lifetime Member, 2004, 2007
Business First, Top Attorneys in Central Ohio, 2004-05
Who’s Who in American Law
AV Preeminent®, Martindale-Hubbell