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A lawyer representing people who claim that the acne drug Accutane caused them serious gastrointestinal diseases said his team is ready to try cases in Atlantic City, N.J., and Madison County, Ill., in April � the first two cases of potentially hundreds to go to trial. Michael D. Hook of Hook Bolton Mitchell Kirkland & McGhee in Pensacola, Fla., who spent 20 years of his legal career mostly defending doctors, hospitals and insurance companies, said that he put together a consortium of firms to take to on Hoffman-LaRoche Inc. of Nutley, N.J. In some cases, Hook also is suing doctors whom he claims should have known better than to prescribe Accutane. In a case still pending against Hoffman-LaRoche in Pensacola, a defendant doctor settled for $2.8 million, Hook said. Mason v. Hoffman-LaRoche, No. 2001 CA 002416 (Escambia Co., Fla, Cir. Ct.). Red flags Hook said that the litigation � which comprises about 400 cases so far, with 347 cases in New Jersey state court, 24 cases in the federal multidistrict litigation in the Middle District of Florida ( In re Accutane Products Liability Litigation, No. MDL-1626) and a handful of cases in other state courts � constitutes a “career change” for him that began with one client. “The more I got into it, the more I saw red flags,” he said. But what he called his former “comfortable lifestyle” changed when he found that in order to sue a major drug company, one must commit “every waking moment and all of your resources to take them on.” And realizing that he could not do it on his own, Hook built a consortium of firms to take on Hoffman-LaRoche. He said that he expects to file another 300 cases, but that there are potentially “thousands of more cases out there.” Hook’s team includes the plaintiffs’ firms Seeger Weiss of Newark, N.J.; Levin Papantonio Thomas Mitchell Echsner & Proctor of Pensacola and Krupnick Campbell Malone Buser Slama Hancock Liberman & McKee of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., as well as Beggs & Lane, Florida’s oldest firm and an established Pensacola defense practice. Gail R. Safian, a spokeswoman for Hoffman-LaRoche Inc., replied via e-mail that the company does not comment on pending litigation. Dr. David B. Sachar, chairman of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s advisory committee on gastroenterology and director emeritus of gastroenterology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, heads the plaintiffs’ expert team, Hook said. Dallas attorney Paul L. Smith, a lead Prozac litigator who Hook said had come out of retirement to try Accutane cases, and Walter G. “Skip” Campbell of Krupnick Campbell will try the first case, scheduled to start on April 16 in Madison County. Peipart v. Hoffman-LaRoche Inc., No. 03-L-002040 (Madison Co., Ill., Cir. Ct.). [PDF of the Peipert complaint.] The second case is scheduled to open on April 30 before Superior Court Judge Carol E. Higbee, the Atlantic City judge who also presides over the state Vioxx litigation. McCarrell v Hoffman-LaRoche Inc., No. ATL-L-1951-03 (Atlantic Co., N.J., Super. Ct.). [PDF of the McCarrell complaint.] Hoffman-LaRoche is represented by Gibbons of Newark, Covington & Burling of Washington and Shook, Hardy & Bacon of Kansas City, Mo., Hook said. Hook noted that 99% of his clients suffer from inflammatory bowel disease. These clients divide into three large categories: • Plaintiffs whose symptoms can be controlled by drugs. • Plaintiffs whose symptoms are not being controlled by drugs, who experience episodic flares of the disease and have received surgery. • Plaintiffs whose surgeries range from partial removal of the intestines to complete removal of the colon. In the two case set for trial in April, plaintiff Jason C. Piepart in Madison County alleges that Accutane caused his ulcerative colitis, and Andrew McCarrell in New Jersey had his entire colon removed, Hook said.

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