Product liability, mass tort and class actions: pharmaceuticals and medical devices - defense in United States

Arnold & Porter

Jointly led by Anand Agneshwar in New York and Pamela Yates in Los Angeles, Arnold & Porter’s team is highly regarded for its work in pharmaceuticals and medical devices litigation. Together with trial and appellate expert William Hoffman based in Washington DC, Yates is acting for Bayer as national counsel in a product liability claim alleging plaintiffs were not adequately warned of the bleeding side effect of the blood thinning prescription medicine Xarelto. Further, Agneshwar continues to represent Bristol-Myers Squibb in the Plavix litigation, and also in separate personal injury litigation involving the anti-psychotic medication Abilify. In other highlights, the team acted for Endo Pharmaceuticals in the negotiation of a case management order and master settlement agreement following the 2017 victories in MDL involving testosterone replacement therapy Testim. Other key clients include Novartis and Pfizer.

DLA Piper LLP (US)

DLA Piper LLP (US) is headed by Raymond Williams in Philadelphia and Christopher Young in San Diego, and is one of the leading firms for high-profile product liability litigation and mass torts in the medical and pharmaceuticals sectors. Notable highlights include representing Medtronic and Covidien as co-national counsel in the hernia mesh litigation, and defending Pfizer and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals in product liability litigation, in which plaintiffs claim that long-term use of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) cause various forms of kidney disease. In other work, the highly regarded Loren Brown in New York is acting for Pfizer alongside Boston-based Matthew Holian in an MDL involving claims that anti-coagulant medication Eliquis causes bleeding. Cara Edwards in New York is also recommended. In January 2018, the team welcomed Stephen Matthews and Amy Rubenstein from Porzio, Bromberg & Newman and Schiff Hardin LLP respectively; in February 2018, Matt Nickel and Mike Moore joined from Dentons.

Goldman Ismail Tomaselli Brennan & Baum LLP

Noted for its strength in-depth and trial expertise, Goldman Ismail Tomaselli Brennan & Baum LLP is highly regarded in the pharmaceuticals and medical devices arena. Jointly led by Tarek Ismail and Andrew Goldman, the team is acting as trial counsel to Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Ethicon in several cases as part of the transvaginal mesh product liability litigation. In addition, the team is representing Bayer in two MDLs related to the contraceptive system Mirena, involving claims that the device causes a variety of injuries, headaches and vision loss. Ismail is also acting alongside the highly recommended Shayna Cook as lead trial counsel for new client AbbVie in a product liability case, in which the plaintiff allegedly developed a certain type of blood clot after using the testosterone replacement therapy drug AndroGel. Medtronic and Merck are also clients of the firm. Joe Tomaselli in Dallas, Jennifer Greenblatt and associate Allyson Julian are other key members of the practice group; Doug Winnard, Rami Fakhouri and Andrew Rima were made partner in January 2018. Unless otherwise noted, all named partners are based in Chicago.

Reed Smith LLP

At Reed Smith LLP, the ‘knowledgeable and effective’ Melissa Geist heads the pharmaceuticals and medical device litigation practice from the Princeton office, and also co-leads the firm’s life sciences health industry group. Praised for its ‘collaborative and innovative ways’, the team is regularly involved in high-stakes matters as coordinating, trial and litigation counsel, and has vast experience acting for manufacturers in the pharmaceuticals and medical device sectors in MDLs and class actions. Barbara Binis in Philadelphia and Michael Brown in Los Angeles are other names to note. Thomas Yoo and Daniel Winters departed in July 2018 to join Holland & Knight LLP, while Sara Brinkmann joined from Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP in May 2018. Michelle Cheng was made partner in January 2018.

Williams & Connolly LLP

Widely recognized for its expertise as coordinating, trial and litigation counsel, Williams & Connolly LLP is at the forefront of pharmaceuticals and medical devices litigation, as evidenced by its acting for Cardinal Health in investigations and litigation relating to the distribution of opioid medications, and its representing Medtronic in personal injuries claims relating to the use of hernia mesh products. Jointly led by Heidi Hubbard and Joseph Petrosinelli, the 'very strong and collaborative' team is defending Stryker in hip implant MDL, and is also acting as trial counsel for Daiichi-Sankyo in a lawsuit claiming that the high blood pressure medicine Benicar caused severe gastrointestinal distress and weight loss. The firm’s client base also includes Pfizer, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Takeda. Other names to note are Stephen Raber and Paul Boehm, who are 'skillful in the courtroom', as well as senior counsel and ‘top-drawer strategist’ Douglas MarvinLiam Montgomery was promoted to partner in January 2018. All named partners are based in Washington DC.

Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott LLP

Chicago-based Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott LLP’s trial practice acts primarily for manufacturers in pharmaceuticals and medical device litigation. Kaspar Stoffelmayr continues to defend Bayer as national counsel and lead trial counsel in personal injuries claims alleging that oral contraceptives Yaz and Yasmin cause thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, heart attacks and strokes. Similarly, the team represents Bayer in product liability litigation related to the drug Xarelto, and further acting for Walgreens in the nationwide high-profile lawsuit regarding prescription opioids, which were allegedly distributed and sold in quantities exceeding medical justification. In another highlight, Rebecca Weinstein Bacon is acting for Johnson & Johnson in the pelvic and hernia mesh mass tort litigation. Philip Beck is also a key member of the practice and Jeannie Tinkham was made partner in January 2019.

Bowman and Brooke LLP

The team of ‘true problem solvers’ at Bowman and Brooke LLP ‘provides solid guidance throughout the pendency of litigation’. Head of the medical devices practice Kim Schmid is ‘smart, strategic and knows the life sciences space better than most’, while pharmaceutical practice head Randall Christian in Austin is ‘creative in finding solutions to obtain early dismissals and efficiently manages high-stakes complex discovery and litigation’. Together with Barry Koopmann, Schmid is representing Exactech in product liability claims relating to bone and joint restoration products including implants used in hip, knee and shoulder arthroplasties. Other highlights include acting for several manufacturers of diabetes medication in product liability lawsuits and defending Spineology against defect claims involving spinal and surgical products. Pharmaceutical expert Mary Pawelek in Austin is also recommended and Jennifer Bullard became partner in January 2019. Unless otherwise stated, all named partners are based in Minneapolis.

Butler Snow LLP

Jointly headed by William Gage and Alyson Jones, the ‘highly competent and skilled’ group at Butler Snow LLP has outstanding trial expertise and is entrusted by high-profile clients such as Takeda, AbbVie and Hoffman-La-Roche. Further, Gage is representing Johnson & Johnson and Ethicon in several lawsuits: he is acting as national coordinating counsel in the re Ethicon Inc. Pelvic Repair System Products Liability Litigation, and as lead national counsel in the hernia mesh product liability litigation. Together with Eric Hudson and Charles Morrow in Memphis, Jones and Oxford-based Paul Cassisa are defending Merck in product liability litigation involving the hair loss drug Propecia, in which plaintiffs allege failure to warn users of sexual dysfunction caused by the drug. Orlando Richmond, New York-based David Cohen and of counsel Christy Jones are other key members of the practice. The team recently welcomed Nashville-based Kenneth Conour in April 2018, Andrea La’Verne Edney in May 2018 and Cedric Evans in the Austin office in December 2018, from Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC and Bowman and Brooke LLP respectively. Charles Harrell and Ken Turner retired while Meta Danzey left in February 2018 to take an in-house position. Unless otherwise stated, all named partners are based in Jackson.

Dechert LLP

Highly regarded in the pharmaceutical space, Dechert LLP is particularly experienced in handling product liability, mass tort and class actions for manufacturers and distributors. Jointly led by New York-based Sheila Birnbaum and Mark Cheffo, the team is representing Purdue Pharma as national counsel in over 1,400 cases regarding its prescription opioid medication, and is defending Pfizer as lead national counsel in litigation relating to the antidepressant Zoloft, which allegedly causes birth defects in children when taken during pregnancy. The practice group also continues to represent AbbVie in national product liability litigation involving testosterone replacement therapy AndroGel, including an MDL in Chicago in which Nathan Hoffman takes the co-trial counsel role. Moreover, the team is acting as lead appellate counsel for Johnson & Johnson in the mass tort litigation claiming personal injury from use of anti-psychotic medication Risperdal. Philadelphia-based Ben Barnett and Douglas Fleming in New York are other key members of the practice group.

Greenberg Traurig LLP

Greenberg Traurig LLP’s pharmaceutical, medical device and healthcare litigation practice has a strong track record in sector-specific product liability litigation, class actions and mass torts. Chicago-based Gregory Ostfeld and highly regarded head of team Lori Cohen in Atlanta are defending Alcon and Sandoz in several multi-state consumer fraud class actions regarding the dropper design of glaucoma drugs, which recently saw the team acting as lead appellate counsel before the First Circuit. In other work, Cohen and Atlanta-based Sara Thompson obtained dismissal of various cases for Sandoz in a lawsuit involving the generic medication amiodarone, in which plaintiffs brought claims involving product liability, off-label promotion and failure to distribute required medication guides. In addition, the team is acting as national coordinating, trial and settlement counsel for CR Bard in all claims relating to pelvic mesh device litigation, and also advises the same client on the hernia mesh litigation. The Philadelphia office was strengthened by the hires of Keith Smith from Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, LLC in February 2018 and Brian Rubenstein from Teva Pharmaceuticals in July 2018. Christiana Jacxsens left to join W. L. Gore & Associates in January 2019.

Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP

Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP has ‘a unique level of expertise in product liability litigation around the world’, and regularly assists prominent pharmaceutical and medical manufacturing companies with product liability and mass tort litigation as well as class actions. James Fitzpatrick, Robb Patryk and Diane Lifton jointly head the practice, which also includes Ted Mayer, William Beausoleil and the ‘indefatigableCharles Cohen. Recent highlights include representing the Belgian pharmaceutical manufacturer UCB in opioid-related litigation alleging that manufacturers and distributors contributed to the current epidemic of overuse of opioid medications. Further, the team is defending the New York Blood Center against wrongful death and personal injury claims relating to blood transfusions. Fara Tabatabai was made partner in January 2019. All named partners are based in New York.

King & Spalding LLP

The pharmaceutical and medical device litigation team at King & Spalding LLP was strengthened by the October 2018 hire of Austin-based Melvin Bailey from Crowe Arnold & Majors LLP. In recent highlights, practice head Bruce Hurley and Tracie Renfroe in Houston defended Johnson & Johnson and DePuy Orthopedics as co-lead trial counsel in personal injury claims, including an MDL relating to a metal-on-metal hip implant. Andrew Bayman in Atlanta continues to represent GlaxoSmithKline as national counsel in litigation related to the anti-depressant medication Paxil, which involves allegations that the use of the drug increases the risk of suicidal behavior in adult patients. In addition, Los Angeles-based Alexander Calfo is acting as coordinating and trial counsel in California for Johnson & Johnson Consumer in the talc powder litigation, having recently defended the client against a plaintiff claiming she developed mesothelioma as a result of exposure to the alleged asbestos-contaminated talcum powder products. Other clients include Halyard Health, Eli Lilly and Allergan. Senior counsel Chilton Varner in Atlanta is also recommended.

Pepper Hamilton LLP

The health sciences department at Pepper Hamilton LLP is regularly involved in product liability lawsuits and class actions. The team continues to act as national counsel to Eli Lilly in several product liability claims, including a class action in Canada alleging that the use of Prozac during pregnancy causes autism in children, and a federal MDL regarding the diabetes drug Actos. In other work, Nina Gussack and Sean Fahey are defending GlaxoSmithKline as national, trial and settlement counsel against claims alleging that diabetes medication Avandia causes heart attacks, strokes and other medical problems. The firm’s client roster also includes Medtronic, Merck and Sun Pharmaceutical Industries. Andrew Kantra is another name to note. All partners are based in Philadelphia unless otherwise stated.

Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP

Headed by Walter Cofer and Alicia Donahue in San Francisco, the sizeable product liability group at Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP has demonstrated ‘excellent strategic thinking capabilities’ in large product liability claims in the pharmaceuticals and medical devices arena. In recent highlights, Robert AdamsJon Strongman and Miami-based Daniel Rogers acted as national counsel for Boston Scientific in litigation relating to its pelvic mesh products, including an MDL in West Virginia. Further, Harley Ratliff is representing Sanofi as national lead counsel in ongoing litigation alleging that the breast cancer chemotherapy drug Taxotere causes permanent hair loss. Stryker, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson are also part of the firm’s client roster. In 2018, Miranda Soto left for Shutts & Bowen LLP, Eric Swan joined the Missouri Attorney General’s Office, and Nicholas Deutsch joined Crump & Deutsch; however, Christopher Kaufman, Naoki Kaneko, Zachary Crowell and Dana Strueby were all made partners in the practice group. Unless otherwise stated, named partners are based in Kansas City.

Venable LLP

As ‘a responsive firm with individuals who are very skilled in all aspects of litigation’, Venable LLP provides comprehensive advice on product liability, mass torts and class action matters, and is especially experienced in the pharmaceutical industry. Recent highlights include representing Merck in litigation relating to the vaccine Fosamax, which allegedly causes patients to develop shingles as well as eye and neurologic injuries, and acting for Takeda Pharmaceuticals as co-national counsel in litigation relating to proton-pump inhibitor medication. The team is jointly led by Kathleen Hardway and Jason Rose, and also features Paul Strain, Bruce Parker and Sally Bryan. Other recommended lawyers are Stephen Marshall, who ‘provides excellent management of the entire team, and is excellent at setting and carrying out an overall strategy’, and the ‘outstanding communicator’ and ‘power house trial attorneyCraig Thompson. All named partners are based in Baltimore.

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP

The St Louis-based product liability team at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP is headed by Stephen Strauss and defends pharmaceutical and medical devices manufacturers in product liability litigation and consumer fraud claims. Together with Dan Ball, Strauss acted for Merck as co-lead national counsel against claims that the birth-control hybrid pharmaceutical/medical device NuvaRing causes blood clots, stroke, and death; the team obtained a defense verdict in the first seven bellwether trials. In another highlight, Bettina Strauss acted as counsel for Johnson & Johnson in the pelvic and hernia mesh litigation in Kansas, Missouri and Illinois. Liz Blackwell joined from Thompson Coburn LLP in March 2018.


The product liability and mass tort litigation practice at Goodwin is headed by Joanne Gray in New York and focuses on trial work and risk management. A team led by New York-based Glenn Kerner is representing Teva Pharmaceuticals as national counsel in personal injury litigation relating to the cardiac drug amiodarone, which was allegedly over-prescribed and caused blindness, pulmonary toxicity, pulmonary fibrosis, kidney damage, neurotoxicity and death; Richard Oetheimer in Boston is defending the same client against plaintiffs who opted out of the national settlement relating to the metoclopramide litigation. In another highlight, Boston-based Sarah Frederick defended Boehringer Ingelheim in a wrongful death lawsuit alleging the packaging of the blood-thinning medication Praxada did not adequately warn of the risk of a fatal bleed.

Hogan Lovells US LLP

The department at Hogan Lovells US LLP handles product liability lawsuits, MDLs and class actions for pharmaceuticals and medical manufacturing companies. Lauren Colton in Baltimore leads the team and continues to act as co-national coordinating counsel to Bristol-Myers Squibb in litigation concerning its anti-psychotic drug Abilify. In other work, the team successfully obtained dismissal of several lawsuits brought against Mylan regarding the sale and distribution of opioid medication, and also represented Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer on appeal regarding the alleged failure to warn about risks associated with the anti-coagulant drug Eliquis. Adam K. Levin in Washington DC is another name to note. Mark Goodman and Barry Thompson departed in March 2018 to join Baker McKenzie LLP, and Mitchell Zamoff left to become a full-time professor at University of Minnesota.

Jones Day

The ‘well prepared and thoughtful’ tort litigation and product liability practice at Jones Day is valued for its ‘excellent skills’ as discovery, trial and appellate counsel. Practice head Stephanie Parker in Atlanta is defending Merck in the ongoing Fosamax litigation. Further, a team led by San Diego-based Karen Hewitt is representing Walmart in the nationwide opioid litigation, including the MDL, individual cases and federal investigations, while David Alden in Cleveland obtained dismissal of a wrongful death claim filed against Indivior, alleging failure to warn and design defect claims after a patient who had been prescribed opioid-addiction maintenance drug Suboxone died of a heroin overdose. Other key members of the team include Chicago-based trial lawyer José Isasi II and of counsel Daniel Reidy.

Kirkland & Ellis LLP

Kirkland & Ellis LLP regularly acts as counsel and trial team for manufacturers in the pharmaceutical and medical devices sectors. Led by Mike Brock in Washington DC, the team is defending Bristol-Myers Squibb Company and Otsuka Pharmaceutical in a product liability MDL alleging that anti-psychotic prescription drug Abilify caused consumers to exhibit compulsive behaviors such as gambling. The group is also representing Allergan in high-profile opioid litigation. In other work, Washington-based Paul Clement continues to represent Johnson & Johnson and its affiliate DePuy Orthopedics in the consolidated appeals of an adverse jury verdict related to a hip prosthetics MDL. Dow Chemical is also among the team's clients.

Mayer Brown

The product liability and mass torts practice at Mayer Brown is jointly led by Henninger Bullock in New York and Chicago-based Michael Olsen and Daniel Ring. Ring and Washington DC-based Andrew Tauber are acting for Medtronic as national preemption counsel in nationwide product liability litigation involving the Infuse bone-graft device; the team recently defended the client in appellate litigation. In another recent highlight, the team represented UCB and its subsidiary Schwarz Pharma as discovery counsel in litigation alleging the medication Reglan causes tardive dyskenia.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP

At Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, Washington DC-based Paul Zevnik leads the product liability, tort and insurance practice, while John Lavelle in Philadelphia heads the product liability litigation team. The group is experienced in pharmaceuticals and medical devices-related class actions and personal injury lawsuits, which has recently included representing Teva Pharmaceuticals and affiliated companies as coordinating and national counsel in opioid-related litigation. Other highlights include defending Zimmer Biomet against product liability claims relating to an artificial hip manufactured by the client. Ethel Johnson in Houston and Los Angeles-based Yardena Zwang-Weissman are other names to note. In October 2018, Kelci Atkins in Houston and Lisa Veasman in Los Angeles were promoted to partner. David Luttinger left to join Covington & Burling LLP in March 2018.

Morrison & Foerster LLP

The San Diego-based team at Morrison & Foerster LLP handles product liability lawsuits, MDLs and class actions for pharmaceutical and medical manufacturing companies. Practice head Erin Bosman and Julie Park continue to represent McKesson in product liability litigation regarding Zofran, Eliquis, Taxotere, and Reglan, and are also acting for Fresenius Kabi in litigation concerning heparin contamination. The firm’s client roster also includes MicroPort Orthopedics.

Norton Rose Fulbright

The products, pharmaceuticals, medical and mass tort practice at Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP regularly acts as counsel and trial team for manufacturers in the pharmaceutical and medical devices sectors. Headed by Steven Jansma in San Antonio, the team also handles non-contentious sector-related work such as risk mitigation. Jonathan Skidmore in Dallas and Austin-based Stacey Martinez are other key members of the practice group. Sara Brinkmann joined Reed Smith LLP in May 2018 and Randall Richardson departed to found Randall S. Richardson PLL in August 2018.

O'Melveny & Myers LLP

At O'Melveny & Myers LLP, Steve Brody in Washington DC leads the product liability and mass torts practice while San Francisco-based Matt Powers and Sabrina Strong jointly head the consumer class actions practice. The team continues to act for Johnson & Johnson in a number of lawsuits, having recently represented the client in litigation and investigations relating to the deceptive marketing of opioid painkillers, and securing a defense verdict as appellate counsel in the baby powder nationwide putative class action; these matters were led by Los Angeles-based Charles Lifland. In other work, the team acted for Janssen Pharmaceuticals in a California bellwether trial involving the anti-psychotic medication Risperdal. Richard Goetz in New York is also a key member of the practice group.

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP

Headed by San Francisco-based Morgan Tovey and Sandra Bresnick in New York, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP’s product liability and mass torts practice is regularly involved in high-profile lawsuits in the pharmaceuticals and medical devices sectors. In one highlight, the team acted for EOS Products in a class action alleging consumers of the EOS lip balm were experiencing severe allergic reactions; the team successfully negotiated a settlement. The practice group also represents clients in litigation relating to talcum powder and antidepressants. Trial lawyer Michael Lyle in Washington DC is another key member of the department.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP’s expertise spans MDLs, class actions and product liability lawsuits in the pharmaceuticals and medical devices industries. Practice head John Beisner and Jessica Miller in Washington DC act as lead discovery counsel for Ethicon in the federal MDL proceedings relating to the Gynecare pelvic mesh products. In addition, Beisner is representing DePuy Orthopaedics in the Pinnacle hip implant MDL. In other work, Los Angeles-based Lisa Gilford is defending Purdue Pharma against claims that the client falsely marketed opioid medication OxyContin. The team also continues to represent Johnson & Johnson in lawsuits concerning baby powder that allegedly causes ovarian cancer.

Tucker Ellis LLP

Los Angeles-based Mollie Benedict leads the medical and pharmaceutical liability group at Tucker Ellis LLP, which defends high-profile manufacturers in the pharmaceuticals and medical devices industries in MDLs and product liability litigation. Cleveland-based Dustin Rawlin continues to represent Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Mentor Worldwide as national coordinating and lead counsel in personal injury claims related to saline-filled and silicone gel breast implants. Rita Maimbourg, who leads the wider trial department, and John Lewis in Cleveland are other names to note. Caroline Tinsley joined the St Louis office in April 2018 from Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice LLC. J&J subsidiaries Ethicon and Janssen Pharmaceuticals are also among the group's key clients.