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LOS ANGELES � Mark Robinson’s cases read like the inventory of a medical clinic: Baycol, fen-phen, Rezulin, Vioxx, Propulsid, Bextra, Celebrex and Zyprexa. In almost every case, Robinson, founder of Robinson, Calcagnie & Robinson in Newport Beach, Calif., has served as lead or liaison counsel for plaintiffs’ lawyers in California. Robinson also has taken a major role in the national multidistrict litigation in several of those cases, including the federal cases against Merck & Co. Inc. over the painkiller drug Vioxx. Last year, he obtained a $51 million verdict against Merck in the first federal trial over Vioxx (three months ago, the judge lowered the award to $1.6 million). Barnett v. Merck & Co. Inc., No. 06-485, MDL 1657 (E.D. La.). Philip Beck, a partner at Chicago’s Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott who represented Merck in the case, referred calls to Merck spokesman Kent Jarrell, who declined to comment on pending litigation. “He really has made a tremendous reputation for himself in the mass tort arena,” said Joe Dunn, a former state senator who worked for Robinson, Calcagnie & Robinson for more than 10 years. “He’s a straight shooter. He’s tough as nails in a courtroom, in front of a jury, but he’s an individual you can trust. That’s given him an incredible reputation.” Robinson, who often shuns the spotlight, said: “I’ve just liked what I’ve done. It’s a passion.” Another passion is politics. Robinson and his firm are particularly visible in local and national politics, donating to mostly Democratic candidates. In addition to Dunn, the firm has spawned several presidents of the Consumer Attorneys of California over the years, including Robinson. In Orange County, Robinson served on the law school dean search committee at the University of California, Irvine, whose on-and-off again hiring of Duke Law Professor Erwin Chemerinsky last week raised significant national criticism. Founded in 1978, Robinson, Calcagnie & Robinson got its start after Robinson obtained a $128 million verdict for a boy injured in a Ford Pinto � the largest personal injury verdict on record. By the late 1990s, the firm’s personal injury cases evolved into tobacco litigation and mass torts against pharmaceutical manufacturers. “[W]e’ve pretty much tried to stay in the forefront of plaintiffs’ litigation practice,” Robinson said. In the past decade, the firm has doubled to 15 lawyers, with another 30 nurses and paralegals on staff. The firm’s other name partners are Kevin Calcagnie, editor of the Consumer Attorneys of California’s monthly magazine, and Robinson’s brother, Jeoffrey Robinson, who worked at the Orange County District Attorney’s Office for 12 years. This month, the firm snagged Karen Barth Menzies from what is now Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman, where she served as lead counsel in the national multidistrict litigation over the withdrawal risks associated with antidepressant Paxil. Robinson, Calcagnie & Robinson will partner with Baum Hedlund on bringing dozens more cases alleging that Paxil causes birth defects, Robinson said. But the firm isn’t all about pharmaceuticals. Robinson said he would like to begin filing more individual cases in business fraud and patent infringement. “Patents fit into what I’ve done,” Robinson said. “We’ve done technical work on both auto products over the years and now pharmaceutical products. A lot of patent-analysis types of things involve some of the same skill sets we’ve developed.” In mass torts, Mark Robinson is a formidable foe. “He’s always well prepared, and he knows his cases,” said Stuart Gordon, co-founder of San Francisco’s Gordon & Rees, who has litigated against Robinson for nine years on behalf of pharmaceutical firms in California. Robinson and other firm lawyers have contributed to political campaigns, including that of trial lawyer and former Senator John Edwards of North Carolina. For the 2008 presidential election, Robinson has donated to Edwards but is considering giving to other candidates. At U.C. Irvine, Robinson was one of only two lawyers on the dean search committee. Last week, the school’s chancellor reinstated an offer to Chemerinsky amid criticism from the legal community for having withdrawn an earlier offer. While those circumstances could have been different, Robinson said the attention could help put the new school on the map. “If it hadn’t gotten all this publicity nationally, we might not have had the opportunity we have today.”

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