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The first latex glove allergy case to be tried in a federal court resulted in a win for Baxter Healthcare Corporation. In June, a Minnesota jury absolved the medical products maker of any liability in causing plaintiff Mary Beth Kennedy’s allergic reactions. The victory could inoculate Baxter against further latex threats. More than 400 federal suits have been consolidated into a multidistrict litigation in Philadelphia district court, and the first case is set for trial this fall. Kennedy’s suit was removed from the MDL last year after her lawyers argued that she was near death due to the severity of her latex allergy. They claimed that Baxter’s medical gloves, which Kennedy had to wear as a nurse, contained unreasonably high levels of latex proteins, and that the company had failed to warn users about their potential risks. Baxter’s lawyers argued that their gloves weren’t to blame since Kennedy-who survived her illness-suffered from multiple allergies. This is the fifth latex case that Baxter has litigated since 2000, but the first federal suit. Of the four state cases that the company has litigated, all have been dismissed or settled. Baxter has reached out-of-court settlement in most of the remaining 500 state claims against it. The latex glove unit was spun off in the late 1990s and subsequently acquired by Cardinal Health, Inc. For plaintiff Mary Beth Kennedy (International Falls, Minnesota) Leonard, O’Brien, Wilford, Spencer & Gale (St. Paul): Thomas Atmore and Edward Gale. The firm specializes in multidistrict litigation. Doffermyre, Shields, Canfield, Knowles & Devine (Atlanta): Leslie Bryan and Ralph Knowles, Jr. The lawyers are product liability specialists who have worked with Leonard, O’Brien in the past. For defendant Baxter Healthcare Corporation (Deerfield, Illinois) In-house: Cardinal Health, Inc., assistant general counsel Ethan Trull and senior counsel George Kokkines. Trull, a former in-house lawyer at Baxter, continued to work on the company’s defense after he moved to Cardinal. Though Cardinal acquired Baxter’s glove business in 1999, it is not a party in the latex litigation. Ungaretti & Harris (Chicago): Michael Philippi, senior associate Stacey Feeley Cavanagh, and associate Shannon Capone Kirk. Ungaretti & Harris handles cases for Baxter in the Midwest. Philippi began defending Baxter ten years ago. Dechert (Philadelphia): Diane Sullivan. (Sullivan is in the firm’s Princeton office.) Sullivan defended Baxter in several breast implant cases. She handles Baxter’s latex matters on the East Coast, but was called in on the Minnesota case because of her expertise. Quarles & Brady (Milwaukee): John Rothstein. Rothstein has represented Baxter in litigation since the mid-1980s. Bowman and Brooke (Minneapolis): Kim Schmid and John Sear. The product liability litigation firm began defending Baxter in the late 1990s. OUTLOOK Pennsylvania district judge Edmund Ludwig is expected to hear at least one case from the multidistrict litigation this fall before sending the other suits back to various state courts. -Allison Fashek

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