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In early 2006, a New York Times article described a small case study that purported to link Ambien, the nation’s best-selling prescription sleep aid, with bizarre nocturnal behavior, including driving or binge eating while seemingly asleep. Within days, some 500 plaintiffs had signed on to the first putative federal class action. The plaintiffs were seeking damages related to Sanofi-Aventis U.S. LLC’s alleged failure to warn of the drug’s potential side effects, as well as injuries they allegedly sustained while using Ambien. Bypassing regular outside counsel located nearer New York, where the class action was filed, Sanofi called on Shook, Hardy & Bacon. Led by Harvey Kaplan, chairman of the Kansas City, Mo., firm’s pharmaceutical products team, Sanofi was able to snuff out the challenge definitively. On May 29, 2007, before a motion for class certification had even been filed, the plaintiffs voluntarily withdrew the claim. “It was a truly phenomenal result,” said Laurie Polinsky, associate general counsel for U.S. litigation at Sanofi. The result underscores the fact that Shook, with its half-century history of tobacco defense work, has become a go-to firm for major pharmaceutical and medical device litigation. Since 1970, the firm has defended an unusually long list of products and clients in this area, serving as national counsel or national coordinating counsel for 31 drugs and medical devices marketed by 13 companies. “There is no short list for national counsel of a major pharmaceutical company that doesn’t include Shook,” said Pfizer Inc. General Counsel Allen Waxman, who tapped the firm as one of Pfizer’s preferred outside counsel in late 2005. Early on, the firm built a scientific infrastructure that is still paying off. Some 100 experts are on staff, including 14 who have earned doctorates in molecular virology, human genetics, biology, biochemistry and physiology. There are experts with graduate degrees in such areas as nursing, mathematics and environmental science. Clients trace Shook’s pharma success to Kaplan. In 1970, his first year at the firm, Kaplan worked on the firm’s first personal injury case for Eli Lilly and Co. His subsequent work on several high-profile trials in the 1970s � including one of the first pharmaceutical mass torts, a case alleging that the synthetic hormone DES caused cancer in children of women who had taken the drug � earned him a reputation as “one of the godfathers of product liability law,” said Polinsky. Kaplan has cultivated a substantial group of talented trial lawyers. One of the most prominent is Timothy Pratt, who oversees Guidant Corp.’s defense of more than 5,000 federal and state claims arising from the recall of implantable defibrillators. He teamed with Andrew Carpenter recently to nip some major liabilities in the bud. In April 2007, they won dismissal of secondary and third-party payer claims. Three months later, Pratt negotiated resolution of 8,550 individual claims; as a result, trials scheduled to begin that month were suspended. Shook hasn’t let its tobacco work slide. In January 2006, Philip Morris USA Inc. tapped Gary Long, chairman of the firm’s national products liability group, to lead the company’s defense in class actions in New York and Boston. Both are medical monitoring claims that seek to cover the cost of periodic medical exams and health tests for smokers. Shook is handling most of the roughly 200 individual smoking and health claims filed in Florida. Applying skills in Europe The firm’s ability to use its vast tobacco database and trial playbook has come in handy as the smoking and health docket has grown overseas. In France, the firm was brought in to help develop substantive trial strategies in the first non-U.S. health care cost recovery class action against the company. “The feeling was, Shook’s ‘been there, done that,’ ” said Olivier Debouzy, name partner at Philip Morris’ French national litigation counsel, August & Debouzy. Last May, after a hearing before France’s highest court, the plaintiff, health insurance fund Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie de Saint-Nazaire, withdrew the suit. No new claims have been filed. “ Together, we killed it off,” said Debouzy. Due in part to that representation, Shook was appointed Philip Morris International’s worldwide coordinating litigation counsel in 2004. “They have an institutional knowledge of our litigation that is unsurpassed,” said John Mulderig, associate general counsel of the company’s corporate parent, Altria Group Inc. As of last month, Shook lawyers were coordinating and assisting national counsel through trial and appeals in 150 pending international matters.

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