Beasley Allen lawyers continued to lead the way in 2017 in mass tort litigation involving pharmaceuticals and medical devices. During the year, three Beasley Allen lawyers were appointed to provide leadership in newly formed multidistrict litigations (MDLs).
• Danielle Mason was appointed to the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee (PSC) for the Invokana multidistrict litigation, which currently has more than 700 cases pending in New Jersey federal court. The PSC manages discovery for all of the cases consolidated in the MDL.
• Navan Ward, Jr. was one of seven lawyers appointed to the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee (PEC) for the Proton-Pump Inhibitor MDL. The PEC is a smaller group within the PSC that provides leadership for the MDL.
• Last, but certainly not least, Leigh O’Dell was selected to serve as co-lead counsel for the talcum powder MDL pending in New Jersey federal court. Associate Jennifer Emmel is also providing additional leadership in the talc MDL, serving on the Science Committee.
Outside of the courtroom, Frank Woodson began his term as President of the Alabama Association for Justice (ALAJ) in June. ALAJ works to eliminate restrictions on the civil justice system, so that every person can have their day in court and enjoy equal access to justice.
The following are some of the significant happenings this year in the Section.
Our mass torts lawyers logged lots of miles in 2017, working on several jury trials throughout the year. Ted Meadows and the Beasley Allen talc litigation team continue to lead the way in the talcum powder litigation in Missouri state court. May brought a verdict of just over $110 million against Johnson & Johnson and Imerys for Beasley Allen client Lois Slemp. Ted and the team also assisted with the Ecchevarria trial in California. That jury awarded $417 million to Eva Echeverria – the largest talcum powder verdict to date. The talc team is also working hard to handle legal challenges that arise after the verdict. After the Missouri Court of Appeals reversed and vacated last year’s verdict for Alabama client Jacqueline Fox’s family based on a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the team is appealing that decision to the Missouri Supreme Court.
Matt Teague continues to serve on the PSC for the Testosterone Replacement Therapy MDL, which has more than 6,000 cases consolidated in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Matt and Jessica Taylor worked with firms from across the country to try a case on behalf of Beasley Allen client Jeffrey Konrad, who suffered a heart attack after using AndroGel. A mistrial occurred in June when lead counsel suffered from heart problems. The case had to start again and the jury awarded $140,000 in compensatory damages and $140 million in punitive damages in the October retrial.
Andy Birchfield, as co-lead counsel for the Xarelto MDL, along with Joseph VanZandt, led the way in three Xarelto bellwether trials in 2017. While all three trials resulted in Defense verdicts, Andy, Joseph, Soo Seok, and the rest of the Xarelto PSC are working to hold Defendants Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals and Janssen Pharmaceuticals accountable for their failure to warn of the unique risks of Xarelto. The first two Plaintiffs, Joseph Boudreaux and Joseph Orr, are in the process of appealing several key rulings to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The third Plaintiff, Dora Mingo, filed a motion for a new trial in the trial court after Bayer’s leading scientists released a new study showing that prothrombin time (PT), a standard lab test, may be used to assess Xarelto’s anticoagulant activity – findings that directly contradict the testimony of Bayer’s witnesses at trial.
It looks like 2018 will be another busy year for the Mass Torts Section. Two Xarelto trials are scheduled to begin in January in the consolidated Pennsylvania state court litigation. Beasley Allen also has three transvaginal mesh trials in cases scheduled for January, March and May against manufacturer Mentor.
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