Leigh O’Dell practices in Beasley Allen Law Firm’s Mass Torts Section. Currently, her focus is on product liability actions involving talcum powder, transvaginal mesh and Gardasil.
Leigh was recently selected to serve as co-lead counsel for consolidated multidistrict litigation (MDL) in New Jersey federal court concerning talcum powder’s link to ovarian cancer. It is estimated that 14,000 women die from talc-related ovarian cancer each year. One medical expert calculates that this use of talcum powder leads to nearly 10 percent of the new ovarian cancer cases reported annually. The lawsuits allege defendant Johnson & Johnson is liable for personal injuries or wrongful deaths that resulted from ovarian or uterine cancer in women who used the company’s talc products for feminine hygiene. More than 70 cases are pending in the MDL.
In addition, Leigh handles cases involving transvaginal mesh and Gardasil. Transvaginal mesh is used to repair conditions such as pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and stress urinary incontinence (SUI). The mesh is implanted through the vagina and is used to shore up pelvic organs that have become displaced due to age, childbirth, hysterectomy or obesity. According to the FDA, reported complications from of the transvaginal placement of the mesh include erosion of the mesh into the vaginal tissue, organ perforation, pain, infection, painful intercourse and urinary and fecal incontinence. Often women require surgery to remove the mesh. In some cases, this can require multiple procedures without successful removing all of the mesh. Currently, Leigh is investigating cases involving mesh manufactured by American Medical Systems, Bard, Boston Scientific, Caldera and Johnson & Johnson.
The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation granted motions to create consolidated MDLs against seven transvaginal mesh manufacturers: Boston Scientific Corp., C.R. Bard, Coloplast, Cook Medical, Johnson & Johnson and Neomedic International under Chief Judge Joseph R. Goodwin in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia. Judge Goodwin appointed Leigh as a member of the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee for these MDLs.
Gardasil is a vaccine manufactured and marketed by Merck & Co. Inc. for the prevention of cervical cancer. The vaccine targets four types of human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted virus linked to the development of cervical cancer. However, since Gardasil’s introduction in 2006, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) has received more than 20,000 reports of adverse side effects reportedly related to Gardasil. These reports include serious adverse side effects including Guillain Barŕe, lupus, seizures, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis, among others. There also have been 92 reported deaths among girls who received the vaccine.
Prior to her involvement with Gardasil and transvaginal mesh litigation, Leigh devoted more than six years to the Vioxx litigation. She was a member of the trial team for five of the 17 bellwether trials that took place throughout the country. Leigh also served on various MDL committees, including the law and briefing, trial package and settlement liaison committees.
Awards and Ratings
Leigh has been selected for inclusion on the Best Lawyers in America list since 2011 and has been included in the Super Lawyers list annually since 2017. In 2013 and 2017, Leigh was selected as Beasley Allen’s Mass Torts Section Lawyer of the Year. In 2014, Leigh was named Beasley Allen Litigator of the Year. The Litigator of the Year award is presented to the attorney or attorneys who demonstrate exceptional professional skill throughout the course of the year. In 2015, Leigh was selected as the recipient of the Chad Stewart Award. This honor was created in memory of Beasley Allen lawyer Chad Stewart, who passed away unexpectedly in April at the very young age of 41. In addition to being a dedicated lawyer who worked hard for his clients, Chad truly modeled Christ in his daily walk. The Chad Stewart Award was created to recognize an attorney who best exemplified Chad’s spirit of service to God, his family and the practice of law in the service of “helping those who need it most.”
She has been named to the Top 100 Trial Lawyers list by The National Trial Lawyers Association and also to the 50 Most Influential Trial Lawyers by The Trial Lawyers’ RoundTable. Most recently, she was selected for inclusion in The National Trial Lawyers’ Mass Tort Trial Lawyers Association – Top 25. It is an invitation-only professional organization composed of and limited to the Top 25 attorneys from each state or region who handle Mass Tort claims.
She is a member of the Alabama State Bar, where she is a member of the Federal Court Practice Section; Montgomery County Trial Lawyers Association; National Trial Lawyers Association, where she serves on the Executive Committee; American Bar Association; Christian Legal Society; Public Justice; and the Federal Bar Association. Leigh also is a member of the American Association for Justice and serves on the AAJ Transvaginal Mesh Litigation Group. Working with Emory University School of Law’s Institute for Complex Litigation, Leigh helps guide and instruct talented young attorneys and even attorneys who are transitioning to complex civil litigation, mid-career. She co-chairs the Institute’s Bridge to Practice and Next Generation Programs, which are specifically designed to help attorneys new to the practice of complex litigation better understand the underlying principles and strategies of the practice.
Leigh serves on the Board of Directors for a number of nonprofit organizations and ministries including Children’s Hope Ministry, Telling the Truth Ministries (the Ministry of Stuart, Jill and Pete Briscoe), Joni and Friends (the Ministry of Joni Eareckson Tada), and the Jimmy Hitchcock Award.
Leigh earned a degree in accounting from Auburn University in 1990. She graduated from law school at the University of Alabama School of Law, in 1993. While in law school, Leigh served as managing editor of the Alabama Law Review and received the Dallas Sands Outstanding Senior Award. Following law school, Leigh had the honor of serving as a law clerk for the late Honorable Ira DeMent, United States District Judge for the Middle District of Alabama.
Leigh began practice at Beasley Allen in 1994. In 1998, she left the firm for full-time ministry, first with Focus on the Family as Director of Women’s Ministries and then six years with Anne Graham Lotz as Director of Revivals. These years of working with God’s people around the world gave Leigh not only the opportunity to witness thousands of lives changed for God’s glory, but to grow in her love for Jesus as she walked by faith through many challenging and stretching situations. Her years of “adventuring” with the Lord in vocational ministry have been transformational as she continues to serve Him in law practice. Leigh returned to the firm in 2005 to join the Vioxx litigation team.
Leigh is originally from Prattville, Alabama. The daughter of the late Billy O’Dell and Beverly O’Dell Malone, Leigh enjoys spending time with her large family, reading, tennis, as well as participating in other sporting activities.