Pepper Hamilton partner Nina Gussack describes Harrington as unflappable. When Eli Lilly was mired in litigation related to improper marketing of its antipsychotic drug Zyprexa, the company had to negotiate settlements with attorneys general around the country. "Mike was at the table speaking directly with the attorneys general, and he always managed to find common ground," she says.
Lilly spent $1.2 billion to settle thousands of individual product liability lawsuits filed by patients who took Zyprexa, paid the federal government $1.4 billion in fines in 2009, and pled guilty to charges related to the off-label marketing of the drug. The drug's patent protections expired last year.
Harrington, who ran Lilly's litigation group from 2004 to 2009, was deeply involved in those cases. "We've learned a lot in the last 10 years," he says. "There will always be litigation in our business, but I don't anticipate anything like in the past."
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Oil's Well That Ends Well
In one of the most important steps it has taken to improve its reputation with its shareholders, Chesapeake Energy Corporation announced the appointment of JAMES WEBB as general counsel in late September.
Webb had served as chief legal counsel for Chesapeake on a contract basis for the previous four months. He fills a vacancy in the legal department left by HENRY HOOD, who served as GC from April 2006 until this past June. Hood will stay with the company to manage the land and regulatory departments for the United States's second-largest natural gas producer.
In April, Reuters reported that Chesapeake cofounder Aubrey McClendon may have taken out as much as $1 billion in personal loans, putting up his stake in company wells as collateral. McClendon, who at the time was CEO and chairman of the board, did not disclose the loan amount to shareholders.
Hood initially defended the transaction, denying the existence of a conflict of interest and stating that the board was "fully aware" of the CEO's transactions. The board refuted that contention a short time later, indicating it had not reviewed or approved the transactions.
The company subsequently announced plans to separate the CEO and chairman functions. Independent chairman Archie Dunham was appointed in June.
Webb took the reins of the legal department full-time as Chesapeake reportedly faces an antitrust investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice over Michigan land deals, as well as lawsuits filed by shareholders who claim the loan disclosure caused shares to drop in value.
Before joining Chesapeake's legal team, Webb spent 17 years at McAfee & Taft, Oklahoma's largest law firm. He also worked at Gorsuch Kirgis in Denver. Webb earned his law degree from Washington University in St. Louis.