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The American Lawyer: Tried and True: With the World Watching, O’Melveny’s Products Liability Litigators Get Clients the Results they Need.December 03, 2021
O’Melveny was named “Product Liability Litigation Department of the Year” at the fourth annual American Lawyer Industry Awards held in New York last night. The publication noted the firm’s representation of Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals as lead litigation counsel in over 3,000 opioid-related cases coast to coast—cases which, The American Lawyer said, “threatened to upend the pharmaceutical industry.” In detailing a landmark 2019 Oklahoma case—the amended ruling called for J&J to pay less than 3% of the US$17.5 billion the state had sought, and last month the judgment was tossed out entirely—The American Lawyer wrote that “O’Melveny guided its client every step of the way, including on appeal…. In many ways, the case is representative of the firm’s products liability practice.” O’Melveny litigation department co-chair Richard Goetz said: “We go to trial. We’re not just ready to go to trial. We do it. It frames how you think of your evidence, how you think of those first witnesses. You're stuck with them forever, particularly in a mass tort.” Working in the firm’s products liability and mass torts practice requires checking one’s ego at the door. “To do that effectively, you’ve got to let your ego stay behind and come and work together, enjoy the process, and go out and get the best result for your client,” practice co-chair Sabrina Strong said. Steve Brody, the practice’s other co-chair, noted the importance of getting out in front and communicating the client's story. “You don’t want to be walking into a courtroom already behind because you have let plaintiffs frame the narrative around the matter you’re litigating,” Brody said. Goetz added that, “Here we have an amazingly important issue to the country and an effort by courts to say, ‘We will address that.’ You see the same thing in global warming. ‘Let’s take the law and maybe change it a little bit to deal with a social problem.’”
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