Responses prepared by Hayden Coleman and Rachel Passaretti-Wu, partners at Dechert.
What are some of the department’s most satisfying successes of the past year and why? Once more, the Dechert team led by Mark Cheffo and Sheila Birnbaum has won a series of notable victories in appellate, federal and state courts in some of the most complex product liability litigations in the country. In the pharmaceuticals field, we secured a key Second Circuit decision on behalf of Pfizer in the Lipitor litigation that provides important precedent for other complex pharma cases involving federal preemption issues. In California, where we faced the challenge of replicating previous federal court wins under a less favorable expert standard, we successfully excluded nearly all the testimony of plaintiffs’ only expert by winning a key Sargon ruling and then negotiated strategic case management orders that further excluded any expert testimony; the court subsequently applied its ruling by granting summary judgment and dismissing the cases with prejudice. These rulings followed Pfizer’s successful motions to dismiss another 2,000 cases in California for failing to comply with discovery obligations. In the sprawling Zantac litigation, meanwhile, we substantially narrowed the challenges facing client GSK through effective motion practice, also securing dismissal with prejudice of RICO claims brought on behalf of a putative class of Zantac purchasers. And in the medical devices field, where Atrium Medical Corporation faces 3,000+ personal injury lawsuits and pre-suit claims involving its hernia mesh products, we secured a full defense verdict in the first of these cases to go to trial. On behalf of 3M, we also secured defense verdicts in several bellwether trials in the Combat Arms Earplugs Products Liability Litigation, the largest MDL in history, including a verdict in 3M’s favor on all counts after just two hours of deliberation by the federal jury. We have also taken significant strides in the manufacturing and insurance spaces. We reached settlements for Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics to bring an end to litigation in Vermont and class action litigation in New York concerning the use of PFOA, a widely used chemical that has been unregulated for most of its history. Additionally, we won a trio of appellate decisions for insurer and long-time client State Farm in lawsuits brought by policyholders alleging COVID-19-related business interruption losses, even securing a Fourth Circuit ruling within 48 hours of filing State Farm’s papers—a particularly satisfying victory.