Robert ("Bobby") R. Hatten is a pioneer and national leader in the field of asbestos litigation. Hatten served as a law clerk to the Honorable John A. MacKenzie in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. In late 1973, he joined the law firm of Patten & Wornom and was made Partner in 1976. From 1991 to 2019, Hatten served as the Managing Partner of Patten, Wornom, Hatten & Diamonstein, L.C.
Hatten began the representation of workers with asbestos disease in 1975, when he filed the first asbestos disability and death claims in the history of the state of Virginia against the Newport News Shipyard for workers’ compensation benefits under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. In 1976, Hatten and his co-counsel, Gene Locks of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Richard Glasser of Norfolk, Virginia, filed the first asbestos product liability claims in Virginia against more than 40 asbestos manufacturers and suppliers.
In June 1978, Hatten and his co-counsel successfully prosecuted the first mesothelioma jury trial in Virginia (and only the third successful asbestos trial in the nation at that time) with a verdict against Johns-Manville Corporation in the amount of $750,000. From that time until the present, Hatten’s practice has been devoted exclusively to the representation of asbestos victims. He has published articles concerning asbestos litigation in the Washington & Lee University Law Review, the VTLA Journal, the Texas Lawyer, and the Washington Legal Times.
His accomplishments include the first successful consolidation of more than 1,000 lawsuits, the first national settlement program with the asbestos industry, the first Virginia punitive damage jury verdict against the asbestos industry (1991) and the largest punitive damage verdict in an asbestos case (2011). For 6 consecutive years, Hatten’s verdicts against the asbestos industry were listed in the Top 10 Verdicts for the state of Virginia. These included the following multi-million dollar verdicts for mesothelioma victims: $7,500,000 (2016); $25,000,000 (2011); $5,977,482 (2010); $3,800,000 (2009); $4,390,000 (2008); $9,300,000 (2007); and $10,000,000 (2006).
In 2006 Hatten won the landmark case of Jones v. John Crane in the Virginia Supreme Court which established that admiralty jurisdiction and maritime law applied to the claims of all shipyard and Navy asbestos victims. This legal precedent established the rights of family members of mesothelioma victims to receive compensation for the pain and suffering of their loved one after their death, it lessened the burden of proof for establishing liability of asbestos manufacturers, it extended the time allowed for filing asbestos lawsuits and it provides that the liberal remedies of maritime law would control the rights of shipyard and Navy asbestos victims--not state law.
Toxic Tort Litigation (Carcinogens)
Chemical Hair Straightener
Washington & Lee University Law School - Juris Doctor
Hampden-Sydney College - Bachelors
Supreme Court of Virginia
Supreme Court of United States
United States Court of Appeals
Best Lawyers in America (2001 - Present)
Super Lawyers (2006 - Present)
Best Lawyer of the Year in Product Liability Litigation - Plaintiffs 2023
Best Lawyer of the Year in Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions - Plaintiffs 2022
Best Lawyer of the Year in Personal Injury Litigation - Plaintiffs 2015 and 2019
Best Lawyer of the Year in Personal Injury Litigation 2012
Rector of the Board of Visitors of Christopher Newport University and Member of the Board of Visitors since 2015
Chairman of the Board of Soundscapes for 12 years
Consistently received highest rating of Martindale-Hubbell for thirty years
Former Campaign Chair and Chairman of the Board of the United Way of the Virginia Peninsula
Previously received the Humanitarian Award from the National Conference of Community and Justice
Previously Johns-Manville Bankruptcy Reorganization Committee Member
Previously Pittsburgh Corning Corporation Bankruptcy Reorganization Committee member
Previously Chairman of the Litigation Section of the Multi-District Asbestos Litigation in Philadelphia, PA
Previously Liaison to Congress for the Association of Trial Lawyers of America on asbestos-related matters
Formerly served on the Board of Directors of the VTLA
Former recipient of the first award for Courageous Advocacy from the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association
Previously designated by Virginia Lawyers Weekly as one of the top seven Leaders in the Law of Virginia
Served on the Board of Trustees of St. Andrews Episcopal School
Served on the Board of the Trustees for Hampden-Sydney College
Served on the General Samuel V. Wilson Leadership Center at Hampden-Sydney College
Served on the Board of Trustees for the Lexington Theological Seminary
Founder of Operation Santa
Co-Founder of the Virginia Asbestos Victims, Inc.
American Associate for Justice (fka American Trial Lawyers Association)
Southern Trial Lawyers Association
National Trial Lawyers
International Association of Trial Lawyers