• Southern Methodist University (B.A., 1991) 
  • Southern Methodist University (B.B.A., 1991)
  • George Washington University Law School (J.D., 1994, with high honorsOrder of the Coif)


  • District of Columbia, Maryland, and Montana
  • United States Courts of Appeals for the Second, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Ninth, and Eleventh Circuits
  • United States District Courts for the District of Columbia, District of Maryland, District of Montana, and District of Nebraska
  • United States Court of Federal Claims


  • The Zometa® Cases

    Hollingsworth LLP outwits well-funded plaintiffs' attorney group by prevailing in early trials (including plaintiffs' trial picks) in consolidated litigation for client Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation.


Robert E. Johnston's practice focuses on trials and appeals of complex litigation matters, with an ‎emphasis on defending pharmaceutical product liability litigation and on prosecuting insurance ‎coverage disputes for corporate clients. In 2015, he was selected by Corporate America Legal Elite for Best in Product Liability Litigation-Washington, DC.

Mr. Johnston recently led a team that secured a complete defense verdict for firm clients Sotera Health and its subsidiary, Sterigenics, in a 28-day jury trial in the Circuit Court for Cook County, Illinois. The case involved claims of injury from exposure to ethylene oxide emitted from a medical device sterilization facility Sterigencis previously operated in Willowbrook, Illinois. He has also served as co-lead ‎trial counsel in multiple pharmaceutical products liability trials, including Hogan v. Novartis Pharm. Corp., No. 1-06-CV-00260-BMC (E.D.N.Y. 2011), which ‎resulted in a defense verdict for our client.

Mr. Johnston manages the defense of class action, consolidated, and serial litigations and represents ‎clients in significant individual matters as well. He has developed key liability defenses to sweeping allegations of corporate ‎misconduct, and he has worked with experts and senior company employees to advance those ‎defenses in depositions and at trial. He defends depositions of corporate employees and has been involved in motions disputing the admissibility at trial of videotaped corporate depositions. He prepared eight corporate witnesses to testify at trial in Meng v. Novartis Pharm. Corp., No. MID-L-7670-07-MT (N.J. Super. Ct. Law Div. May 15, 2013) in New Jersey, and in Davids v. Novartis Pharm. Corp., No. 06-CV-431 (E.D.N.Y.2012) in New York federal court (where he served as co-lead trial counsel). Mr. Johnston has developed and presented the testimony of scientific experts and cross-examined plaintiffs’ experts both at deposition and trial. In support of his work developing liability defenses, he is co-leader of the Firm’s E-Discovery group. He has experience implementing court-approved document review strategies and stays current on developments regarding Technology Assisted Review and other emerging document review protocols. He has supervised productions numbering in the tens of millions of pages of documents and regularly counsels clients regarding E-Discovery issues. He is a member of The Sedona Conference.

Mr. Johnston successfully defended class action claims and handled the ‎nationwide defense of matters coordinated in one of the longest-standing multidistrict litigations ‎in the United States, In re Aredia® and Zometa® Products Liability Litigation. He has written and spoken on the defense of class action claims and spoken on issues regarding the defense of claims in multidistrict litigation.

Mr. Johnston has prevailed on summary judgment in ‎numerous cases, including cases from the Aredia®/Zometa® litigation involving issues of warnings (proximate) causation, the inapplicability of cross-jurisdictional class-action tolling, the applicability of punitive damages limitations, and other topics of interest to medical products liability defense. He has participated in appeals of trial verdicts and ‎summary judgments, including oral argument before the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Mr. Johnston represents clients in both state and federal courts in actions seeking insurance coverage for ‎environmental liabilities, asbestos-related claims, defamation, errors and omissions by insurance ‎agents, and various other business torts. As co-leader of the Firm’s insurance coverage practice, he obtained a significant recovery for insulation-installer Porter Hayden Company in its decade-long litigation with AIG over asbestos-related bodily injury claims. He also consults with clients regarding the pursuit of ‎insurance proceeds under solvent and insolvent schemes of arrangement. He has written and ‎spoken on numerous issues relevant to insurance coverage, including issues of fidelity insurance ‎and specialty coverages available for e-commerce enterprises.

Mr. Johnston has pursued litigation in connection with government contracts, including procurement-related claims, ‎Winstar-related claims, and claims for the taking of property by the ‎government without just compensation. He assisted nuclear power utilities in a successful trial before the Court of Federal Claims regarding the federal government’s breach of its contractual obligations to begin removing spent nuclear fuel from power plants by 1998. He has significant experience representing clients in ‎commercial business disputes, including suits arising out of the telecommunications and e-‎commerce industries.‎ He has written and spoken on issues related to the federal False Claims Act, particularly its qui tam provisions. In law school, he served as a member of The George Washington Law Review, where his note on qui tam issues was published.

Mr. Johnston is a member of the National Association of Railroad Trial Counsel (NARTC) and has served on the faculty at NARTC’s College of Railroad Trial advocacy – an intensive six-day trial techniques course for thirty young trial attorneys. He has spoken before the NARTC on the impact of no-recourse litigation funding for plaintiffs and their counsel.

Mr. Johnston is recognized in the 2023 Washington, DC edition of Super Lawyers for Civil Litigation-Defense, and is named as an AV Preeminent Attorney and Top Rated Litigator by Martindale-Hubbell™. He is a Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America, which recognizes excellence among U.S. litigation and trial counsel. He is a long-standing member of the Defense Research Institute.


  • Firm Contributes Chapter on Opioid Litigation and Daubert to Karch’s Drug Abuse Handbook, Third Edition
  • Another Victory for Reliable Science
  • New Jersey: Now the Product-Liability Defendant's Playground?
  • Nestle Takes Shelter in Its Supply Chain Safe Harbor
  • Effective Tactics for Opposing Certification from Recent Food Labeling Class Actions
  • "Coverage For Claims Involving Allegations of Conspiracy," by Robert E. Johnston for Insurance Coverage Law Bulletin.
  • "Inferring Dishonesty: The Fifth Amendment and Fidelity Coverage," by Robert E. Johnston for Insurance Coverage Law Bulletin.
  • Coverage For Claims Involving Allegations of Conspiracy
  • Internet Domain-Name Suit is Covered Advertising Injury