Douglas J. Suter

In Memoriam Columbus


Douglas had 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. He also handled 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. 

Douglas was a specialist on OSHA, workplace safety and liability matters. He lectured and wrote about OSHA matters for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, The Ohio State University Ohio Safety Congress, 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.

Over the past few decades, Douglas 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 was 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.

On the litigation side, Douglas successfully represented commercial clients, including negotiations with Ford, Chrysler, and GM for one of his first tier automotive component suppliers. For the same client, he also won a $3.5 million dollar accounting malpractice settlement against a large accounting firm.

Douglas co-defended Chrysler in a patent infringement suit filed in U.S. District Court, Northern District, over the shift lever mechanism in the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. 

Additionally, Douglas recovered a million dollar jury verdict in the Franklin County Common Pleas Court on behalf of national client Safway Scaffolding against an Ohio third party workers’ compensation administrator for negligence and professional malpractice for misclassifying Safway as a steel erector under the NCCI Manual Classifications.

Douglas also had success as an aviation litigator. In 2014, Doug secured a unanimous jury verdict in the U.S. District Court Southern Division of Ohio against the City of Columbus for selling a defective and unairworthy Columbus Police helicopter to a Canadian Helicopter company. 

Representative Experience:

  • In 2015, Douglas represented 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 dismissed $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. 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 successfully resolved Secretary of Labor v. MAHLE Engine Components USA, Inc., OSHRC Docket #13-0489, with OSHA forced to vacate all electrical safety citations issued to MAHLE’s McConnelsville, Ohio facility a week before the scheduled trial (which OSHA previously refused to do at a mandatory OSHA Settlement Conference), with a reduction in proposed OSHA penalties over $140,000.
  • In 2015-2016, Douglas successfully litigated and resolved $230,000 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 reduction in proposed OSHA penalties, In re: Industrial Container Services WA LLC, Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals, State of Washington, Docket No. 15 W0115.


  • Best Lawyers in America, Employment Law Management, Labor Law Management

    (2013 - present)

  • The National Trial Lawyers, Top 100 (2011)

  • Honoree, Ohio Super Lawyers (2010 - present), Top 5 Columbus Super Lawyers (2017), Top 100 Ohio Super Lawyers (2015 - 2017, 2019 - 2021), Top 50 Columbus Super Lawyers (2015 - 2021)

  • Columbus CEO Magazine, Top Attorneys in Columbus, Ohio (2009 - 2016)

  • Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, Lifetime Member (2004 - 2007)

  • Columbus Business First, Top Attorneys in Central Ohio (2004 - 2005)

  • Honoree, Who's Who in American Law

  • AV Preeminent, Martindale-Hubbell

  • Columbus Business First, Central Ohio Lawyer of the Year (2015)


  • Capital University Law School (1988)

    cum laude
    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)

  • Stetson College of Law (-2022)

    Master of Law's Degree in Advanced Advocacy 

  • West Liberty State College (1985)

    B.S., Business, with honors
    Dean's List
    School of Business, Management Student of the Year
    Student Judiciary, President 


  • State - Ohio
  • Federal - Northern District of Ohio
  • Federal - Southern District of Ohio
  • Federal - 6th Circuit Court of Appeals

Professional Affiliations

  • 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