• Loyola University of Chicago
    • Northwestern University
      B.A.; Departmental Honors; Mortar Board
    • U.S. District Court, Middle District of Louisiana
    • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
    • U.S. District Court, Western District of Louisiana
    • Texas
    • Louisiana
    • Illinois

Barbara L. Arras

Barbara Arras represents defendants in toxic tort litigation primarily involving pulmonary diseases allegedly caused by asbestos and other pulmonary irritants and hematopoietic diseases allegedly caused by benzene. She is responsible for the medical defense in each case. Specifically, she analyzes the facts to formulate a theory of defense and identifies the correct scientific discipline needed to advance that theory. She then identifies and retains the best expert in that discipline from her wide network of contacts, she deposes plaintiffs’ experts, defends defense experts at their depositions, prepares Motions to Exclude plaintiffs’ experts, and opposes plaintiffs’ Motions to Exclude defense experts. She also has considerable expertise in management of complex toxic tort litigation nationwide, having spent nine years as in-house counsel with two Fortune 500 corporations.


  • Defense of a paint company in a trace benzene multiple myeloma case which resulted in the Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana excluding the plaintiffs’ modeling expert witness under Daubert and subsequently dismissing all claims against the client. On November 15, 2013, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court’s rulings in an unpublished opinion (Craig Moore, et al. v. International Paint, LLC No 13-30281).
  • Retained defense experts and deposed plaintiffs’ experts in multiple petroleum worker cases with alleged benzene related blood diseases.
  • Provided the medical defense to vessel owner in a claim by an employee for alleged occupational asthma as a result of exposure to fumes during the BP oil clean up.
  • Provided the medical causation defense in a rare pericardial mesothelioma case allegedly caused by asbestos but decedent had received massive therapeutic radiation while a teen for Hodgkin’s disease.
  • Retained defense expert witnesses, defended defense experts in deposition and deposed plaintiffs’ experts in a kidney cancer case allegedly caused by benzene exposure.
  • Preparation of medical causation defense in cases involving allegations of injuries as a result of exposure to asbestos, benzene, solvents, paint fumes and excessive noise in the workplace with particular emphasis on selection and preparation of defense expert witnesses and discovery of plaintiffs’ experts.
  • Possesses wide network of contacts among expert witnesses and consultants in many medical and scientific disciplines nationwide and maintains an extensive library of medical and chemical reference materials.
  • Possesses broad understanding of pulmonary medicine - particularly asbestos- and silica-related diseases, lung cancer, mesothelioma, asthma, aluminum pneumoconiosis, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, sarcoidosis, emphysema, and reactive airways dysfunction syndrome (RADS). 
  • Possesses broad understanding of hematologic diseases and renal carcinoma allegedly caused by benzene exposure, as well as working knowledge of benzene epidemiology literature.
  • Preparation of toxicology defense for Union Pacific Railroad in 20,000 member class action lawsuit arising from the derailment of 33 tank cars and resulting spill of chemicals which ignited and burned for several days in Eunice, Louisiana — key issues included plant toxicity, short and long term risks of various diseases, and calculation of cancer risk assessment.
  • Preparation of medical causation defense for second trial group of 20 plaintiffs from the 8,000 class action claimants in a butadiene combustion by-products case arising from a tank car fire, including expert retention and trial preparation — key issues included combustion engineering, fear of cancer, air modeling and risk assessment (In Re New Orleans Tank Car).
  • Representation of United States Gypsum Company in two asbestos property damage claims for abatement of asbestos brought by nineteen Louisiana school boards involving approximately 300 schools and the State of Louisiana involving 55 public buildings.
  • Assisted in the selection of local experts and preparation of defense of class representatives’ medical claims for The Dow Chemical Company in Marilyn Spitzfaden, et al v. Dow Corning Corporation - the Louisiana class action breast implant case.


  • "What Is This Thing Called RADS? - Reactive Airways Dysfunction Syndrome," For the Defense, Vol. 42, No. 6, p. 52 (June 2000)
Speaking Engagements
  • HarrisMartin National Benzene Litigation Conference (December 2014)
  • "The Use of 21st Century Science to Control and Reduce Damages," Defense Research Institute, Damages Seminar (March 2005)
  • "Hot Topics in Environmental Law" American Bar Association 2001 Annual Meeting - Tort and Insurance Practice Section (August 2001)

Memberships & Affiliations

  • International Association of Defense Counsel
  • Defense Research Institute, Toxic Tort and Environmental Law Committee (Chair, 2005-2007; Program Chair, 2002-2003)
  • Louisiana Association of Defense Counsel
  • Louisiana State Bar Association
  • Harris Martin National Benzene Litigation Conference (Co-Chair, 2014)


  • AV® Preeminent Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell
  • The Best Lawyers in America© - Mass Tort Litigation/Class Actions - Defendants (Lawyer of the Year, Mass Tort Litigation/Class Actions - Defendants, 2015)
  • Louisiana Super Lawyers