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United States > Dispute resolution > Product liability, mass tort and class action: pharmaceuticals and medical devices - defense > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings


Index of tables

  1. Product liability, mass tort and class action: pharmaceuticals and medical devices - defense
  2. Leading lawyers

Leading lawyers

  1. 1
    • Philip Beck - Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott LLP
    • John Beisner - Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
    • Sheila Birnbaum - Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP
    • Mike Brock - Kirkland & Ellis LLP
    • Michael Brown - Reed Smith LLP
    • Lori Cohen - Greenberg Traurig, LLP
    • Maja Eaton - Sidley Austin LLP
    • Sara Gourley - Sidley Austin LLP
    • Tarek Ismail - Goldman Ismail Tomaselli Brennan & Baum LLP
    • Christy Jones - Butler Snow LLP
    • Douglas Marvin - Williams & Connolly LLP
    • Diane Sullivan - Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP
    • Chilton Varner - King & Spalding LLP

DLA Piper LLP (US)’s department ‘consistently delivers high value for money’. New York-based practice co-head Loren Brown - ‘who is as good as they come’, according to clients - has been leading the team’s representation of Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer in product liability litigation alleging injuries caused by the drug Eliquis. Fellow co-head Christopher Young, together with Brian Foster (both of whom are based in San Diego), are serving as national counsel to DJO Global in litigation alleging injuries and damage caused by the client’s cold therapy medical devices. Brown, Heidi Levine in New York and co-head Raymond Williams in Philadelphia recently won dismissal of all claims against Novo Nordisk pertaining to its Type-2 diabetes medication Victoza, the argument turning on grounds of pre-emption. Rodney Villazor joined the New Jersey office from Kaye Scholer LLP.

New York-based Arthur Brown and Lori Leskin are key members of the ‘top-notch’, recently combined team at Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP, which regularly acts as national counsel for major manufacturers in the pharmaceuticals industry in high-stakes litigation. Brown and Leskin were recently retained by Bayer as national and coordinating counsel in an innovator liability MDL alleging liability for generic moxifloxacin and ciprofloxacin antibiotics. Los Angeles-basedPamela Yates has been representing longstanding client Pfizer in various product liability cases, including litigation brought by Genetic Technologies alleging defects in Pfizer’s drugs Lipitor, Zoloft and Camptosar. Chicago-based Jeffrey Wagner is ‘a rare combination of a strong legal analyst and trial lawyer’. The above named lawyers are all from the legacy Kaye Scholer firm. The legacy Arnold & Porter group includes New York-based Anand Agneshwar and Washington DC-based Eric Rubel and Daniel Pariser.

Reed Smith LLP is ‘able to efficiently handle large, multi-district product liability and class action matters, as well as smaller matters’. Princeton-based Melissa Geist heads the practice and has been acting alongside ‘excellent strategist’ Thomas Yoo, who is based in Los Angeles, as national counsel to Merck & Co. in the NuvaRing litigation, which includes an MDL in the Eastern District of Missouri and a mass tort before the New Jersey Superior Court. John Hooper is currently representing GNC in a number of class actions arising from allegations that certain herbal supplement products did not contain the ingredients listed. Los Angeles-based Michael Brown has a ‘deep experience in products work, particularly with California litigation’. Kelly D’Auria was promoted to partner in the firm’s New York office. Mary Oppedahl retired.

Led by Madeleine McDonough in Washington DC, the team at Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP represents major pharmaceuticals and medical devices manufacturers in a wide range of litigation, including product liability cases. McDonough’s expertise includes serving as national discovery counsel for clients, as well as advising companies on FDA regulations and preventative litigation measures. Former leading lawyer Harvey Kaplan retired from legal practice in 2015.

The ‘result-driven’ group at Sidley Austin LLP is praised as having ‘a deep bench in the pharmaceutical and medical device area’. The practice is led by Debra Pole in Los Angeles, along with Chicago-based Sara Gourley and ‘outstanding trial lawyer’ Maja Eaton. Gourley and fellow Chicago-based lawyers Craig Knot and Eugene Schoon are representing Grünenthal as lead counsel in over 50 cases brought by plaintiffs alleging injuries resulting from their mothers’ ingestion of thalidomide during pregnancy. A team including Eaton - along with Alycia Degen in Los Angeles, plus Rebecca Wood and Robert Keeling in Washington DC - continues to serve as national counsel to St. Jude Medical in litigation alleging manufacturing and design defects in the client’s Riata ICD Leads, as well as failure to warn; approximately 950 cases have been resolved. Michael Davis retired.

Heidi Hubbard and Joseph Petrosinelli’s Washington DC-based team at Williams & Connolly LLP is highly experienced in representing pharmaceutical and medical device companies in federal MDLs, state coordinated proceedings and multi-plaintiff actions. Led by Hubbard, the firm is defending Pfizer as lead trial and strategy counsel in personal injury litigation regarding Pfizer products containing talc. Serving as lead national counsel, Douglas Marvin and Paul Boehm recently secured pre-emption victory for Merck & Co. in MDL and California state court proceedings regarding the client’s Type-2 diabetes treatment products Januvia and Janumet. Neelum Wadhwani and Ashley Hardin were promoted to partner.

Litigation boutique Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott LLP has a strong track record of defending pharmaceutical companies in litigation, class actions and MDLs alleging personal injury litigation and/or consumer fraud, as well as in matters arising from product recalls. Chicago-based Rebecca Bacon has been serving as national and trial counsel for Bayer in YAZ/Yasmin litigation before a number of federal and state courts. Philip Beck is another notable figure. Sadly, co-founder Donald Scott passed away.

Bowman and Brooke LLP continues to defend major pharmaceuticals and medical devices manufacturers in high-profile litigation and mass torts. Minneapolis-based practice head Kim Schmid has been retained as trial counsel by Johnson & Johnson following a plaintiff verdict in Perry v Ethicon, which was the first bellwether pelvic mesh case in 2015 before the Superior Court of California. Austin-based Randall Christian is leading the team in its role as strategic counsel to Novo Nordisk concerning ongoing product liability litigation regarding a number of pharmaceuticals. Other clients include Breg, Enhancement Medical and American Medical Systems. Julian Senior and his team joined the Los Angeles office from the now defunct Senior Law PC. Minneapolis-based Molly Given and Carli Pearson were promoted to partner.

Butler Snow LLP’s extensive experience includes defending claims against a wide range of medical device and pharmaceutical manufacturers. Birmingham-based Helen Downs’ recent experience includes acting for Johnson & Johnson as supporting trial counsel in Linda Batiste v Johnson & Johnson, et al., where the Fifth Court of Appeals in Dallas reversed the $1m verdict in the pelvic mesh trial due to insufficient evidence that the device caused the plaintiff injuries. Christy Jones (Jackson), who has a particular expertise in serving as lead counsel in bellwether trials, is also recommended.

At Covington & Burling LLP, Paul Schmidt, Phyllis Jones and Michael Imbroscio won defense verdicts for Eli Lilly in three separate trials brought by plaintiffs alleging the company’s failure to warn of physical and psychiatric symptoms following the plaintiffs’ discontinuation of Cymbalta drug therapy. Schmidt and Imbroscio represented Hoffmann-La Roche in a number of cases relating to Accutane, including one where they successfully moved the New Jersey Superior Court to rule that Accutane’s warnings were adequate. Keith Teel, Raymond Biagini and Shankar Duraiswamy are also recommended. All partners are based in Washington DC. Brian Stekloff moved to Wilkinson Walsh + Eskovitz.

Headed by Philadelphia-based Ben Barnett, Dechert LLP’s team continues to represent high-profile clients at trial and appellate levels. New York-based David Bernick is serving as lead trial counsel to AbbVie in national product liability litigation concerning the client’s testosterone replacement therapy drug AndroGel, which includes an MDL involving over 2,400 claimants alleging personal injury caused by the drug. Chicago-based David Kistenbroker is currently representing Endocyte and its CEO in claims alleging the defendants made false and misleading statements regarding the company’s experimental drug, Vynfinit. Donald Le Gower is now in-house counsel at Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Able to handle the most complex matters’, litigation boutique Goldman Ismail Tomaselli Brennan & Baum LLP continues to serve as lead trial counsel for major pharmaceuticals companies in top-end product liability cases. ‘Excellent trial lawyer and strategist’ Tarek Ismail, who is based in Chicago, has been retained by Merck & Co. in Vioxx class actions currently pending before state courts in Alaska, Montana and Utah. Ismail, together with colleagues Shayna Cook in Chicago and Joe Tomaselli in Dallas, is leading the team in its role as lead national counsel to Medtronic in litigation involving its SynchroMed implantable infusion; one case pending in Mississippi was recently dismissed on pre-emption grounds.

The ‘very responsive and incredibly knowledgeable’ team at Greenberg Traurig, LLP provides ‘top-notch service’ in all areas of pharmaceutical product liability litigation. Practice head Lori Cohen - who is ‘a brilliant trial strategist’ with ‘a deep drive for outstanding client service’ - is currently acting as lead counsel for Medtronic in a substantial number of cases; the firm obtained a complete dismissal of several cases on pre-emption grounds. Cohen also led the team in securing a jury verdict for Bard following a two-month trial wherein the jury found the client and Boston Scientific not liable in the plaintiff’s $28m suit alleging defects in the companies’ pelvic mesh implants. Of counsel Stephen Fowler joined the Washington DC office from Reed Smith LLP. All partners are based in Atlanta unless otherwise stated.

Robb Patryk and Diane Lifton head Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP’s department, which is ‘a pleasure to work with’ and is noted for its ‘in-depth knowledge, experience and excellence in the field’. The team’s track record includes serving as national counsel to pharmaceutical manufacturers in product liability and consumer class action lawsuits concerning pain relief and cholesterol-lowering medications, among others. Theodore Mayer has extensive experience as trial counsel and coordinating national counsel. Michael Tiger has a particular strength in defending clients in bet-the-company litigation. All partners are based in New York.

King & Spalding LLP’s ‘responsive and knowledgeable’ group has a strong track record of successfully defending pharmaceuticals companies against class actions, particularly in plaintiff-friendly jurisdictions. Led by Andrew Bayman in Atlanta, the firm successfully moved the Fifth Circuit to affirm a Louisiana federal court’s summary judgment in favor of GlaxoSmithKline regarding its anti-depressant drug Paxil on statute of limitations in McLaughlin v GlaxoSmithKline LLC. Peter Strotz, who divides his time between San Francisco and Los Angeles, and San Francisco-based Donald Zimmer are acting as national coordinating counsel to AstraZeneca in California state court litigation brought by more than 560 plaintiffs from the US and Puerto Rico regarding the company’s cholesterol-lowering medication Crestor. Atlanta-based Chilton Varner is highly recommended. The team expanded significantly with the recruitment of San Francisco-based Alexander Calfo from Barnes & Thornburg, and Washington DC-based Granta Nakayama and Joseph Eisert from Kirkland & Ellis LLP. The practice also promoted several new partners. Frank Brannen and C Brannon Robertson moved to Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP and Fernelius Alvarez Simon PLLC, respectively.

At Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, the product liability, tort and insurance group is jointly led by Paul Zevnik in Washington DC, Brady Edwards in Houston and John Lavelle, who heads the product liability sub-practice, in Philadelphia. Lavelle and Chicago-based Scott Schutte successfully obtained a motion for summary judgment for Medtronic from the Third Judicial Circuit of Illinois. Lavelle also has been representing Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Synthes in litigation concerning a tibial implant medical device; the case is pending before the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. The team was bolstered by the recruitment of Undray Wilks from McGuireWoods LLP in Chicago and former New Jersey federal prosecutor Harvey Bartle IV in Philadelphia.

Pepper Hamilton LLP’s Philadelphia-based group continues to defend a number of major players in the pharmaceuticals and medical devices industry, such as Bard, Medtronic and GlaxoSmithKline. Nina Gussack and Andrew Kantra have been representing Eli Lilly in various litigation, including a federal MDL and numerous state court product liability actions and consumer fraud cases concerning its antipsychotic medicine Zyprexa; the firm has won a number of summary judgment rulings. Practice head Sean Fahey continues to serve as national trial and coordinating counsel to Medtronic in litigation regarding several Medtronic product lines, including one where more than 1,000 cases have been filed nationwide.

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP’s team ‘consistently delivers’ in the pharmaceutical and medical devices arena. Mark Cheffo, Sandra Bresnick and the ‘first-rate’ Sheila Birnbaum are serving as national and trial counsel for Forest Laboratories in 185 cases across the US in which plaintiffs allege that ingestion of certain Forest prescription antidepressants during pregnancy resulted in birth defects; the firm recently obtained dismissal of all six cases brought against Forest before New Jersey state court. Birnbaum and Cheffo continue to defend Pfizer in various litigation, including recently defeating all Effexor cases in the federal MDL, with only a small number of cases still pending before Pennsylvania state court. All partners mentioned are based in New York.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP’s group comprises industry experts who often represent healthcare and life sciences companies in a wide range of litigation. Group head John Beisner regularly handles appellate litigation and is experienced in defending clients before the Supreme Court. Stephen Harburg’s experience includes serving as national coordinating counsel in numerous MDL proceedings. Palo Alto-based Allen Ruby has been leading representation of Intuitive Surgical in litigation regarding its da Vinci robotic surgical equipment; in 2015, the Washington Appeals Court affirmed a defense verdict secured by the firm in 2013. Jessica Miller is also recommended. All partners mentioned are based in Washington DC unless otherwise stated.

One of the most respected product liability practices in the United States’, Venable LLP’s ‘excellent trial lawyers’ are ‘masters at scientific issues and working with experts’. The group served as national coordinating counsel for AbbVie in litigation concerning its hormone replacement therapy (HRT) medication. Bruce Parker and Jason Rose are currently representing Boehringer Ingelheim (BIPI) as national counsel in litigation concerning the client’s Parkinson disease treatment Mirapex. The client base also includes Merck & Co. and Takeda Pharmaceuticals USA. The primarily Baltimore-based practice is headed by Sally Bryan and Paul Strain, who divides his time between Baltimore and Washington DC. Stephen Marshall and Christina Gaarder are also recommended.

Headed by trial veteran Travis Sales in Houston, the team at Baker Botts L.L.P. is experienced in defending clients in litigation involving a broad range of pharmaceuticals and medical devices, including serving as national or regional coordinating counsel for a number of manufacturers. New York-based Earl Austin’s clients includes AstraZeneca, Novartis and Hoffman-La Roche. Houston-based Mike Bennett is also recommended. Aaron Davidson joined Klemchuk LLP in 2015.

Goodwin Procter LLP’s ‘overall level of service is simply excellent’ in the pharmaceuticals and medical devices field. The firm continues to represent Teva Pharmaceuticals in various product liability litigation, with Boston-based Richard Oetheimer serving as national counsel in more than 2,500 cases concerning the generic drug metoclopramide, which is the generic form of Reglan. In 2015, the firm won two motions to dismiss Missouri state court cases heard in St Louis due to the judge’s ruling that non-resident plaintiffs cannot establish personal jurisdiction over the defendant. The team, which is headed by Joanne Gray in New York, saw a number of changes in 2015 with Nilda Isidro and Sarah Frederick’s promotion to partner in the New York and Boston offices, respectively. Glenn Kerner is now head of the wider litigation department in New York.

The product liability practice at Hogan Lovells US LLP regularly defends major manufacturers in high-stakes litigation. The team includes Baltimore-based Lauren Colton, who is experienced in serving as national and regional counsel for biotechnology and medical devices manufacturers. Colton has been leading the defense of The Johns Hopkins University against nearly 800 claims alleging non-consensual medical research conducted by the US and Guatemalan governments in the 1940s. Michael Kidney in Washington DC has been leading the team in its role as national counsel to the Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation (MTF), the largest provider of allografts in the US, in litigation alleging personal injuries caused by the allografts. Los Angeles-based Barry Thompson is also recommended.

Kirkland & Ellis LLP’s deep bench of litigation experts recently achieved a significant number of victories for key clients in the pharmaceuticals and healthcare sectors. Chicago-based Michael Foradas secured summary judgment for AbbVie in the final pending case involving the client’s Humira drug. New York-based Jay Lefkowitz successfully obtained dismissal of all claims brought against Teva Pharmaceuticals regarding alleged failure to warn of side effects associated with Treanda, a cancer treatment, in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York. Other clients of the practice include Baxter and Abbott Laboratories. Washington DC-based Mike Brock is highly recommended and has extensive experience in top-end litigation.

Mayer Brown’s department co-head Henninger Bullock, who is based in New York, has been representing UCB and its subsidiary Schwarz Pharma in innovator liability litigation arising from use of generic versions of the drug Reglan; the Iowa Supreme Court, Missouri Court of Appeals and Florida First District Court of Appeal affirmed dismissals of claims against Schwarz Pharma. Fellow practice co-head Daniel Ring in Chicago, along with Andrew Tauber in Washington DC, have been leading the practice in its role as national counsel to Medtronic in numerous matters. In 2015, the team won a significant number of dismissals and appeals in litigation concerning Medtronic’s Infuse bone grafting device. Practice co-head Michael Olsen in Chicago is also recommended.

Morrison & Foerster LLP’s product liability group is headed by Erin Bosman, who has a strong experience in representing clients as national coordinating and trial counsel in class actions, as well as MDL proceedings. She and trial veteran James Huston continue to defend Fresenius against over 2,000 individual claims alleging the off-label use of psychiatric medication metoclopramide causes significant side effects. Senior associate Julie Park is also highly regarded. Clients of the practice include MicroPort Orthopedics and McKesson. All lawyers mentioned are based in San Diego.

The pharmaceutical and medical device litigation team at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP has a strong track record of handling complex cases and MDL proceedings, as well as class actions. Atlanta-based Richard North is highly experienced in serving as national counsel to medical devices manufacturers. The team promoted numerous partners in Atlanta and Columbia. Michael Anzelmo and Kristen Horne are now of counsel.

Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP’s deep bench of trial experts regularly serves as national and regional coordinating counsel to key players in the pharmaceutical and medical device industry, such as GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer and Merck & Co. Led by Houston-based Gerry Lowry and Dallas-based Jonathan Skidmore, the team represented Bayer in its nationwide Yaz/Yazmin litigation alleging arterial blood clot injuries; Bayer agreed to pay $57m towards a settlement program to resolve remaining claims. In Los Angeles, the well-regarded Jan Dodd has a strong track record in defending clients in state and federal courts.

O’Melveny & Myers LLP’s extensive trial experience includes serving as lead or co-lead national counsel in MDLs, as well as litigation brought by federal agencies and state attorneys general. Los Angeles-based Charles Lifland, together with department co-head Steve Brody and Walter Dellinger (both in Washington DC), recently secured two significant victories for Johnson & Johnson in litigation involving the client’s antipsychotic drug Risperdal, having obtained reversal of a $330m jury verdict and $1.4bn award against the defendant in the supreme courts of Louisiana and Arkansas, respectively. Amy Laurendeau in Newport Beach, together with practice co-head Richard Goetz and Houman Ehsan (both in Los Angeles), are currently defending AstraZeneca subsidiary Amylin Pharmaceuticals in a federal MDL alleging personal injury involving its Type-2 diabetes drug Byetta. Other clients include Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Tucker Ellis LLP’s mass tort and product liability group often defends pharmaceuticals and medical devices clients before state and federal courts. In Los Angeles, practice head Mollie Benedict has served as national and lead counsel in California coordinated proceedings. Expert trial lawyer Robert Tucker’s experience includes serving as national coordinating counsel to pharmaceuticals companies, physicians and hospitals. Dustin Rawlin recently obtained summary judgment on statute of limitation grounds for a medical devices company in 31 bellwether cases that formed part of an MDL alleging personal injuries caused by transvaginal mesh. All partners listed are based in Cleveland unless otherwise stated.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP’s ‘outstanding’ practice is highly experienced in representing clients in high-stakes litigation. Princeton-based Diane Sullivan continues to serve as lead trial counsel to longstanding client Johnson & Johnson in mass tort litigation concerning its antipsychotic medication Risperdal. She is also serving as national counsel for Sanofi following the recall and subsequent litigation involving allergy injection Auvi-Q. New York-based practice head Arvin Maskin is ‘a legend at the defense bar’.

Specialist litigation firm Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell LLP, which is based in Denver, continues to serve as national coordinating counsel to pharmaceutical products distributor McKesson against claims filed by over 3,000 plaintiffs alleging that the defendant’s cholesterol drug Lipitor leads to an onset of diabetes in some women; Habib Nasrullah is leading the matter. James Hooper obtained summary judgment for Pfizer in a Zoloft birth defect case in Philadelphia. Michael O’Donnell heads the department and Peter Herzog joined from Bryan Cave LLP in 2015.

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