What is complex litigation?
Complex litigation refers to cases that require intensive judicial management, as described by the National Center for State Courts. These types of cases include multidistrict litigation (MDL), Mass Torts, Class Actions and Mass Actions. They usually involve multiple parties and/or attorneys, parties from different geographic locations, complex legal issues, sizable amounts of money, a long trial process (including extensive discovery and procedural complexity), numerous expert witnesses, and complicated testimony concerning causation, among other variables.
The knowledge and skills required to handle complex litigation are acquired through years of hands-on practice. Beasley Allen lawyers have worked on some of the most influential complex litigation cases in the country and rely on their experience while serving as a resource to others in the profession.
Three of the firm’s Mass Torts lawyers lend their knowledge and experience to the Institute for Complex Litigation and Mass Claims. Housed at Emory University School of Law and led by Professor Jaime Dodge, the Institute provides a forum for dialogue about the ever-changing landscape of complex litigation. It fosters an environment to “identify positive innovations… to improve the system.”
Andy Birchfield is a member of the Institute’s advisory board, which is composed of “preeminent, established players and emerging leaders within the complex litigation bar.” The board advises and guides the institute’s direction. Its members also help build capacity and support for programming.
The veteran litigator is a member of Beasley Allen’s five-person Executive Board and manages its Mass Torts Section, which is recognized as a national leader in pharmaceutical litigation. The section successfully resolved claims for thousands of clients in the Vioxx, Bextra/Celebrex, Baycol, Rezulin, PPA and Ephedra litigations. Andy was Co-Lead Counsel for the Plaintiff’s Steering Committee (PSC) for the federal Vioxx Litigation MDL; and he was Lead Counsel or Co-Lead Counsel in five Vioxx trials, including one that resulted in a $51 million verdict against Merck.
Leigh O’Dell 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 to better understand the underlying principles and strategies of the practice. She instructs and helps guide talented young attorneys and even attorneys who are transitioning to complex civil litigation mid-career.
Leigh is a Principal in the firm’s Mass Torts Section and is instrumental in helping to guide the section’s work. She has been with the firm for 13 years and, like Andy, is a member of its five-person Executive Board. Leigh has taken on some of the largest pharmaceuticals in the country. Earlier in her career, she spent six years as part of the trial teams for five of the 17 bellwether trials against Vioxx maker, Merck & Co. resulting in a then-record global settlement with the pharmaceutical giant, which agreed to pay $4.85 billion to resolve all Vioxx-related claims. She was recently selected to serve as Co-Lead Counsel of In re: Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Talcum Powder Products Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation, a MDL involving more than 9,000 women who are suffering or who have died of ovarian cancer as a result of their exposure to Johnson’s Baby Powder or Shower-to-Shower products. Additionally, Leigh is a member of the PSC for MDLs against six transvaginal mesh manufacturers.
Lead and learn
Danielle Mason serves as a member of the Institute’s Emerging Leaders Board of Advisors for the Next Generation Program. As an advisory board member, Danielle helps guide the direction of the Institute’s Rising Stars conference and participates in other Institute programming.
Danielle’s civil litigation experience has focused primarily on claims that impact and highlight important issues in women’s health. As a key member of the Beasley Allen national talc litigation team, she has helped obtain favorable verdicts on behalf of five plaintiffs totaling more than $724 million. The team represents women in lawsuits against J&J over the company’s failure to warn about the scientific link between frequent use of its talc-containing products and the increased risk of ovarian cancer. Danielle also leads the firm’s Invokana litigation and serves on the PSC for the Invokana MDL pending in a New Jersey federal court. She represents clients who have suffered adverse side effects including kidney damage, diabetic coma and death, from the blood sugar regulating medicine.
Many of Beasley Allen’s lawyers are in leadership roles in legal organizations and we are proud to be able to serve in this capacity. We understand that taking advantage of leadership opportunities not only lets us share from our experience, it also gives us the chance to learn from others. We hope that our efforts will continue to ensure a strong network of resources for our colleagues in the legal profession.
You can reach us by phone toll-free at 800-898-2034 to discuss any cases of interest or to get more information about the resources available to help your law practice.
National Center for State Courts