Richard T. Orton

LinkedIn Profile

Download V-Card

Send an Email to

Practice Areas

Richard T. Orton

Rich is an experienced trial attorney who represents clients in a variety of complex cases in forums throughout Wisconsin and the United States. He draws on his significant courtroom experience to develop creative, effective strategies and solutions for his clients.

Rich’s practice focuses on products liability, general liability, professional liability, and commercial, construction and insurance litigation and appeals. These matters typically involve a myriad of damages related to personal injuries, property damages, and other commercial or business losses.

He has represented a wide variety of clients in products liability litigation, from small local retailers to large multinational manufacturers. Rich has significant experience as a member of the national trial counsel teams for one of the world’s leading manufacturers of compact construction and agricultural equipment. His products liability experience has included defending consumer, commercial and industrial products in a variety of industries, including automotive, consumer products, medical devices, construction, agribusiness, heavy equipment, marine, trucking, and transportation. In addition to his litigation work, Rich also counsels clients on product liability, product safety, risk avoidance, and claims management issues.

Rich regularly handles matters at all stages of their lifespan – from the prompt investigation of accidents and evidence preservation through pre-suit negotiations, discovery, trial, and appeal. He has experience handling some of the most complex claims involving catastrophic injuries, fire and explosion accidents, and massive property damages.

In addition to his litigation practice, Rich has worked as a director for the Wisconsin Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company (WILMIC) since 2017 and was elected chairman of the Board of Directors in 2022. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Eastern District of Wisconsin Bar Association.

Rich recently served a two-year term as the firm’s managing partner. Prior to joining Gass Turek, Rich was a shareholder at one of Wisconsin’s largest civil litigation firms, and prior to law school he worked as a paralegal at a large multinational law firm in Washington, D.C.

  • Best Lawyers in America, Product Liability, Personal Injury, Commercial, Insurance, and Construction Litigation, 2022-2024
  • Super Lawyers, Rising Star in Civil Litigation, Products Liability and Personal Injury, 2017-2023
  • Fellow, Wisconsin Law Foundation (2017 Inductee)
  • 2016 Wisconsin Law Journal Up and Coming Lawyer Award
  • J.D., University of Wisconsin Law School, 2012; member of the Moot Court Board and Mock Trial Team; winner of the Ruby R. Vale National Corporate Law Moot Court Competition’s best brief award; worked as a law clerk for the Wisconsin Governor’s Office of Legal Counsel
  • B.S. in Political Science, Minor in Business Administration, cum laude, Marquette University, 2007
  • Full-Enrollment Study Abroad, Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford, Hilary and Trinity Terms, 2006
  • Illinois
  • Wisconsin
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Michigan
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Wisconsin
  • Multiple pro hac vice admissions in state and federal courts from New York to California
  • Member, Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel (FDCC)
  • Associate Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America (LCA)
  • Member, State Bar of Wisconsin; Young Lawyers Division Board Member, 2014-2018
  • Member, Illinois State Bar Association
  • Associate Member, Thomas E. Fairchild Inn, American Inns of Court, 2013-2016
  • Member, Milwaukee Bar Association
  • Member and Director (2019-present), Eastern District of Wisconsin Bar Association
  • Member, Defense Research Institute (DRI)
  • Member, Wisconsin Defense Counsel (WDC)
  • Member, Rotary Club of Milwaukee


  • Co-Author, “Marching On: Wisconsin’s Peculiar Products Liability Law After Murphy,” Wisconsin Lawyer, May 2023 (Vol. 96, No. 5).
  • Presenter, “Developing a Proactive Partnership for Discovery Success,” Association of Corporate Counsel-Wisconsin, May 2022
  • Presenter, “Discovery in Products Liability Cases,” annual equipment industry product liability seminar, August 2021
  • Presenter, “Recent Developments in the Evolution of the Economic Loss Doctrine,” Wisconsin Defense Counsel Annual Conference, August 2020
  • Co-Presenter, “Make It Your Exhibit A, Not Theirs: Documentation Strategies for Success at Trial,” DRI Product Liability Conference, New Orleans, February 2020
  • Author, 2019 and 2021 supplements to Requests for Admissions chapter in Wisconsin Discovery Law and Practice, State Bar of Wisconsin Pinnacle books, 5th Ed
  • Presenter, “Anatomy of a Products Liability Claim,” annual equipment industry product liability seminar, May 2019
  • Presenter, “Pretrial Techniques,” State Bar of Wisconsin, September 20, 2018 (covering motions to compel discovery, summary judgment and Daubert challenges)
  • Presenter, “Writing it Right: Avoiding Litigation Risks in Technical Publication Drafting,” 2018 (multiple locations and clients)
  • Presenter, “Dig Deep and Extract the Truth: How to use the Latest Digital Forensic Technology to Win Your Cases,” State Bar of Wisconsin Annual Meeting and Conference, June 21, 2018
  • Co-Organizer, “Common Evidentiary Issues and Pitfalls,” State Bar of Wisconsin Annual Meeting and Conference, June 15, 2017
  • Moderator and co-organizer, “From the Bench: Practical Tips for Litigants,” State Bar of Wisconsin Annual Meeting and Conference, June 16, 2016
  • Presenter, Annual Wisconsin Legal Update, annually, 2015-2019 (multiple locations/clients)

Products Liability

  • Obtained a defense verdict in 2017 on behalf of a heavy equipment manufacturer as second chair in a five-week products liability jury trial in Sonoma County, California. Plaintiff sought $26 million in damages after losing an arm and a leg as a result of a rough terrain forklift (“telehandler”) tip-over incident. Thereafter, successfully defended the defense verdict on appeal. Verrazono v. Gehl Co., 50 Cal. App. 5th 636, 263 Cal. Rptr. 3d 663 (2020), review denied. (Aug. 12, 2020)
  • Won an appeal to the Wisconsin Court of Appeals on behalf of a manufacturer of heavy excavation equipment, involving the application of the economic loss doctrine to claims against the manufacturer resulting from a fire. Secura v. Super Products LLC, 2019 WI App 47, 388 Wis. 2d 445, 933 N.W.2d 161.
  • Won a motion to dismiss on behalf of a major U.S. luxury boat manufacturer, on grounds the suit was barred by the mandatory arbitration and forum selection clauses contained in a limited warranty agreement in Walworth County, Wisconsin. (2022)
  • Won a motion to dismiss with prejudice as local counsel on behalf of a major U.S. auto manufacturer in a purported product liability class action against it. The class action complaint raised a variety of claims based on an alleged defect in a certain generation of truck engine. (E. Dist. Wis., 2021)

General Liability

  • After losing a motion to dismiss for lack of timely and proper service of process after an evidentiary hearing in the circuit court, obtained a full reversal in the Wisconsin Court of Appeals with instructions to dismiss our client. Leonzal v. RBJ Restaurant Group, LLC, No. 2021AP621. (Wis. App. Dec. 6, 2022)
  • Second chair counsel in three-week wrongful death trial in Clark County (Las Vegas), Nevada. The client asked Gass Turek to try this high-profile, nine-figure case approximately 90 days before the start of trial, which required review of multiple years of extensive discovery, testing through a jury simulation and formulation of trial strategy. (2020)
  • Secured two subsequent dismissals of the case of an injured plaintiff clearly engaged in forum shopping, one in Cook County, Illinois, and the other in Lake County, Illinois, on behalf of a major national organizer of outdoor music festivals, ultimately resulting in the settlement of the claim for nuisance value. (2016)
  • Received a favorable verdict on behalf of a printing company in a forklift accident case in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin (second chair). (2016)
    Successfully first chaired a bench trial in St. Croix County, Wisconsin, securing a favorable decision on behalf of a health insurer that resulted in the full reimbursement of the client’s subrogation claim. (2015)


  • Secured a favorable verdict as first chair trial counsel for a construction company in a fire loss case involving allegations of negligent installation of a fireplace and chimney system after a four-day jury trial in Lincoln County, Wisconsin. (2018)
  • Brady Street Area Association (Board of Directors, 2017-2021)
  • Rotary Club of Wisconsin
  • United Way of Greater Milwaukee


“They know us, they know our industry. They have historical knowledge of our business and they value our long-term relationship. Rich Orton knows our culture and is invested in us.”

Related News & Success Stories

Full Reversal Leading to Dismissal for Restauranteur
read more

Gass Turek Attorneys named to 2022 Wisconsin Super Lawyers and Rising Star Lists
read more

Product Liability and Breach of Warranty
read more

Orton Named New Managing Partner
read more

Gass Turek Attorneys Named to 2021 Wisconsin Super Lawyers & Rising Stars
read more

Orton Selected for Membership in Best-in-Class Organization
read more

Gass Turek Attorneys Recognized by U.S. News & World Report – Best Lawyers
read more

Gass Turek Supports Milwaukee Justice Center
read more