Litigation Update: Diverse Leadership Team Appointed in Elmiron Vision Loss MDL

by | Feb 1, 2021

Women make up a majority of the group of 25 attorneys appointed by a New Jersey federal judge on January 22 to the Elmiron MDL leadership team; the team also includes a significant number of minority women and younger attorneys who have never served in leadership roles before.  Throughout the process, U.S. District Judge Brian R. Martinotti had asked for diversity in the representation. One of the reasons for that is that the condition for which Elmiron was prescribed – interstitial cystitis – disproportionately affects women. 70% of the proposed leadership are women, and the plaintiffs’ counsel who offered the proposal described the team as having “significant diversity in gender, ethnicity, geography and experience”. The judge remarked in his order that the proposed leadership group demonstrates “an array of highly skilled counsel with diverse backgrounds and experience,” accomplishing the goal “of introducing new and different counsel to this specialty area of practice.”

Two weeks ago Judge Martinotti appointed Virginia E. Anello of Douglas & London PC, Parvin Aminolroaya of Seeger Weiss LLP and Paul Pennock of Morgan & Morgan PA as co-lead counsel of the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee. Remaining member of the leadership team include:

Lead defense counsel for Janssen:

  • King & Spalding partners Kristen Fournier in New York and Bruce Hurley in Houston
  • Michael Zogby of Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath in Florham Park as liaison counsel
  • Richard Bernardo of New York’s Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, as discovery counsel.

Plaintiffs Liaison Counsel:

  • Chirali Patel of Carella, Byrne, Cecchi, Brody & Agnello in Roseland.

Plaintiffs Executive Committee members include:

  • Timothy O’Brien of Levin Papantonio Rafferty Proctor Buchanan O’Brien Barr Mougey in Pensacola, Florida (Chair of Discovery)
  • Mark Lanier (Chair of Preparation and Trial
  • Paola Pearson (will also serve as Federal-State liaison to the state court litigants in the State of Pennsylvania)
  • Melanie Muhlstock of Parker Waichman in Port Washington, New York
  • Nicole Guntner of Aylstock, Witkin, Kreis & Overholtz in Pensacola
  • Danielle Gold of Weitz & Luxenberg in New York
  • Rachel Shkolnik of New York’s Napoli Shkolnik

The Plaintiffs Steering Committee includes:

  • Aimee Wagstaff of Andrus Wagstaff in Lakewood, Colorado
  • Emily Acosta of Levy Konigsberg in New York (will also serve as Federal-State liaison to state court litigants in the State of New Jersey)
  • Francisco Maderal at Colson Hicks Eidson in Coral Gables, Florida
  • Danielle Mason of Sanders Phillips Grossman in Garden City, New York
  • Sindhu Daniel of Grant & Eisenhofer in Wilmington, Delaware
  • Ann Callis of Holland Law Firm in St. Louis
  • Robert Drakulich of The Drakulich Firm in San Diego
  • Catherine Hilliard of Hilliard Martinez Gonzales in Corpus Christi, Texas
  • Megan Moore of Pulaski Kherkher in Houston
  • Scott Morgan of Schlichter Bogard & Denton in St. Louis
  • Ruth Rizkalla of The Carlson Law Firm in Hermosa Beach, California
  • Thomas Valet of Rappaport, Glass, Levine & Zullo in Islandia, New York
  • Melanie Bailey of Burg Simpson Eldredge Hersh & Jardine in Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Nina Towle Herring of Cory Watson Attorneys in Birmingham, Alabama

Plaintiffs allege that manufacturer Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a unit of Johnson & Johnson, was aware that Elmiron caused visual problems including retinal hemorrhage, macular degeneration and light perception blindness as early as 1997 but concealed it. There are currently approximately 140 cases pending in the MDL.

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