Quinn emanuel trial lawyers

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Life Science: Mass Torts and Product Liability Litigation
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IntroductionSign up for firm Publications  Print

Our firm represents some of the world’s leading pharmaceutical, medical device, other life sciences and consumer products companies in their most significant mass tort and product liability litigation. 

Our lawyers have decades of experience resolving these cases.  By strategically charting a path to victory at the outset, our trial lawyers achieve excellent outcomes for our clients.  We love to try cases and have helped our clients secure jury verdicts in their favor in state and federal courts throughout the country.  But we also win complex mass torts and product liability litigations short of trial by exposing claims based on pseudo-science by filing Daubert and Frye motions (and other analogous state law motions), conducting pretrial evidentiary hearings, and filing motions for summary judgment.  Because we present a credible trial threat, and because our focus on the science and facts raises the stakes for plaintiffs’ firms, we produce better settlements.

Our appellate lawyers have also won landmark life science and product liability cases in state and federal appellate courts—including in the U.S. Supreme Court—on significant tort law issues.

Our practice and our attorneys are recognized as the best in the field.  Named “Product Liability Group of the Year” for 2017 by Law360, we were also shortlisted for the 2014, 2015, 2016 “Chambers USA Awards for Excellence” and twice named, in 2014 and 2015, “Product Liability Practice Group of the Year” by Chambers USA.  Our team of over 30 lawyers has been involved in some of the country’s most significant complex tort litigations, including product liability litigation involving Lexapro®, Celexa®, and talcum powder. 

Representative Current Life Science Clients

  • Allergan
  • Forest Laboratories
  • Colgate-Palmolive Company

Recent Accolades

  • Chambers’ USA has ranked our Product Liability & Mass Torts practice as “Band 1” for 2015, 2016, 2017
  • Chambers’ USA Product Liability Practice Group of the Year
    • Finalist, 2016-2017
    • Winner 2015
    • Winner, 2014
  • Legal 500 has ranked our Product Liability practice as “Tier 2” for 2016, 2017 and 2018, and Tier 3 for 2015
  • Law360 “Practice Group of the Year” in Product Liability
    • Winner, 2017
    • Winner, 2015
  • Global Law Experts, “Product Liability & Mass Torts Litigation Law Firm of the Year in New York”
    • Winner, 2016
  • Corporate LiveWire Global Awards
    • Winner, NY Mass Tort Litigation, 2016

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Recent Representations Print

Notable Recent Wins and Representations

  • Talcum Powder We serve as national trial counsel for Colgate-Palmolive Company in cases venued throughout the country in which individuals claim to have contracted asbestos-related diseases from cosmetic talcum powders formerly manufactured by our client.  Since QE became involved in these cases, through focused litigation strategy, we have obtained dismissals in many cases and have recently achieved a string of significant victories.  In just the past year, QE obtained four summary judgment victories in Pennsylvania, California, and Wisconsin courts, and in federal district court in Georgia.  The Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas granted summary judgment after QE successfully moved to exclude testimony from two experts, who claimed to have found asbestos in our client’s talcum powder products, by demonstrating that those experts employed flawed microscopy techniques.  QE has successfully obtained the exclusion of similar expert testimony in California, New York, Maryland, and in federal district courts in Georgia and Washington D.C. 
  • QE also tried three cases to jury verdict in Los Angeles, and obtained defense verdicts in all three cases. After each verdict, the jurors have credited the strength and credibility of the defense experts, and Quinn Emanuel’s cross-examinations that exposed the analytical gaps in Plaintiff’s theories of product defect and causation. 
  • Lexapro® and Celexa® We are national counsel and trial counsel for Forest Laboratories, LLC, a subsidiary of Allergan, in cases filed in state and federal courts around the country in which plaintiffs claim that their ingestion during pregnancy of Celexa® or Lexapro®—prescription antidepressants sold by Forest—allegedly caused various birth defects in their children.  We also represent the company in litigations in which plaintiffs allege Lexapro ingested during pregnancy causes autism. 

Notable Mass Tort Rulings

  • We obtained a 6-2 win in the U.S. Supreme Court for Wyeth in Bruesewitz v. Wyeth, 131 S. Ct. 1068 (2011), which held that the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act expressly preempts state-law design-defect claims against manufacturers of childhood vaccines.
  • Lipitor® QE served as lead national counsel to Pfizer in its defense of litigation involving more than 8,000 plaintiffs alleging that Lipitor® caused type 2 diabetes.  We prevailed on a series of Daubert motions in an MDL in the District of South Carolina and prevented plaintiffs from bringing a single case to trial.  The court granted summary judgment in thousands of cases in favor of Pfizer, after excluding virtually all of plaintiffs’ experts’ opinions.
  • We also obtained a unanimous decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, affirming partial judgment in a False Claims Act case against Pfizer. In this qui tam action, a former employee alleged that Pfizer promoted Lipitor®, its top-selling cholesterol-lowering medicine, “off-label,” claiming that Pfizer promoted Lipitor® for use by certain patients whose cholesterol levels were not elevated enough to warrant treatment based on national cholesterol guidelines.  The Second Circuit  affirmed the district court’s decision to dismiss these claims, rejecting the relator’s entire theory of “off-label” marketing.  It concluded that cholesterol guidelines summarized in the label merely “provide[d] advice and (unsurprisingly) guidance, ‘not mandatory limitation.’”  The Court also questioned whether the conduct alleged – off-label marketing by sales representative or through promotional materials–could even constitute a false claim to the government.
  • Zoloft® QE served as lead national counsel for Pfizer and Greenstone in an MDL proceeding in federal court in Pennsylvania alleging that the use of Zoloft® during pregnancy caused birth defects to infants exposed in utero.  QE was lead counsel and developed and implemented the Daubert strategy, which resulted in a trio of rulings in which the court excluded as unreliable all of Plaintiffs’ experts’ opinions, in Zoloft, 26 F. Supp. 3d 449 (E.D. Pa. 2014); Zoloft, 26 F. Supp. 3d 466 (E.D. Pa. 2014); and Zoloft, 2015 WL 314149 (E.D. Pa. 2015).  Thereafter, the court allowed plaintiffs to substitute a new causation expert, triggering another round of Daubert proceedings, and again, QE prevailed in excluding the new expert.  The Court then dismissed over 600 of plaintiffs’ claims and awarded summary judgment for Pfizer.  Zoloft, 2016 WL 1320799 at *11 (E.D. Pa. 2016).  The Third Circuit affirmed the lower court in all respects.  Zoloft, 858 F.3d 787 (3rd Circuit 2017).
  • We also represented Pfizer in litigation in West Virginia state court in which plaintiffs allege that use of Zoloft® during pregnancy has caused birth defects in children.  At the outset, there were almost 40 cases pending before the Mass Litigation Panel of West Virginia, filed by a Texas attorney seeking to avoid the federal multidistrict litigation.  We successfully obtained dismissal on grounds of forum non conveniens of 29 cases, while others were voluntarily dismissed, leaving 4 cases remaining in West Virginia state court.  The Panel then entered an order granting summary judgment in two of the cases.  The remaining two cases were scheduled for trial in mid-January 2017, but Plaintiffs, as a result of discovery, withdrew their liability expert, and Pfizer moved for summary judgment.  The Panel granted Pfizer’s motion for summary judgment, rejecting the Plaintiffs’ arguments that an expert witness on the adequacy of the Zoloft® label was not required.

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