NEW YORK, July 9, 2012 -- In responding to a question posed by Life Sciences Law360 editors recently, Earl Austin, chair of Baker Botts’ Life Sciences practice group, talked about one of his most challenging cases in which he worked as national counsel for a pharmaceutical manufacturer involved in a product recall.
The recall prompted litigation on a number of fronts, including nationwide class actions in rural Alabama, East St. Louis, Illinois, Madison County, Illinois and Corpus Christi, Texas. It also spawned several hundred individual personal injury lawsuits in Mississippi and the Texas Rio Grande Valley.
“The principal challenge in the litigation,” Austin said, “was to develop and execute a unified defense strategy in order to sequence the competing actions in a manner most favorable to our client.”
The legal team focused first on an Alabama class action and obtained a dismissal of that case, which was affirmed on appeal by the Alabama Supreme Court. Next, they obtained a dismissal of a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) claim in the Illinois federal action, which prompted a favorable settlement of the individual plaintiff’s claim without certification of a class. Then in Texas, the team moved for summary judgment in the bellwether personal injury actions, which led to settlement of all individual claims in Texas on favorable terms for the client again without certification of a class. Finally, based on the results in Alabama, Illinois and Texas, the legal team obtained dismissals or favorable resolutions in all of the Mississippi cases.
“The litigation posed considerable risk to our client,” Austin said. “Our unified defense strategy resulted in the successful resolution of the litigation on very favorable terms.”
In addition to the discussing this challenging case, Austin responded to questions in the Life Sciences Law360 feature concerning key issues and cases in the Life Sciences sector, a lawyer who made a lasting impression on him and an early career mistake that he turned into a lesson learned.
The Life Sciences Law360 Q&A with Austin is available here.
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