Medical Devices & Pharmaceuticals

Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell attorneys have broad experience in pattern, product liability, and class-action litigation for a number of companies that develop, manufacture, and market pharmaceuticals and medical devices.  This experience, together with our attorneys' varied backgrounds in science and technical fields, including chemistry, physics, and engineering, make for a winning combination in the defense of lawsuits arising from the use of pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and cosmetic implants.  In addition, our attorneys have experience managing complex mass tort and multi-district litigation involving teams of attorneys and medical experts.

WTO attorneys have extensive experience on a national, regional, and state basis with the various defenses and strategies used in the discovery and trial of pharmaceutical and medical-device lawsuits, including product identification, medical causation, FDA compliance, allegations of insufficient warnings and product defects, Daubert issues, and coordination of witnesses, documents, and experts.  Our attorneys assist pharmaceutical and medical-device companies in the following kinds of litigation matters:

  • Product liability
  • Pattern litigation
  • Class actions
  • Regulatory
  • Commercial
  • Employment
  • Insurance coverage
  • Intellectual property, including copyright infringement, discovery and protection of electronic data, licensing, trade secret misappropriation

The following is a representative sample of our litigation work in the pharmaceutical and medical-device industries:

  • WTO is one of 19 firms in the Pfizer Legal Alliance, a network of law firms handling Pfizer Inc's litigation.   Currently, WTO serves Pfizer as national counsel in product-liability litigation alleging wrongful death and personal injury related to Pfizer's SSRI medication Zoloft® (sertraline HCl) and its anticonvulsant medication Neurontin®
  • WTO is national trial and resolution counsel for GE Healthcare in hundreds of cases involving its gadolinium-based contrast agent, OMNISCAN™. 
  • WTO is national coordinating and trial counsel for the defense of product liability suits involving cochlear implants, a highly complex Class III medical device manufactured by Advanced Bionics, a leading manufacturer of neurostimulation devices. 
  • Since 2002, WTO has represented Guidant Corporation and its subsidiary EndoVascular Technologies, Inc. as part of the national trial counsel team defending product liability lawsuits involving the Ancure Endograft System, a Class III medical device used to treat abdominal aneurysms.
  • For Solvay Pharmaceuticals, Inc., WTO has handled product-liability litigation arising from the Columbine High School incident and involving the use of the SSRI medication Luvox® (fluvoxamine maleate). 
  • In connection with the diet drug Fen-Phen manufactured by Wyeth, WTO has been lead trial counsel for lawsuits in the state of Louisiana and co-counsel for lawsuits in the state of Utah.
  • The firm has acted as Colorado counsel for Baxter Healthcare Corporation (nka Baxter Healthcare, S.A.), Baxter International, Inc., and Allegiance Healthcare Corporation in product-liability cases arising from the use of latex gloves. 
  • WTO attorneys have handled product-liability lawsuits for Boston Scientific Corporation regarding vaginal slings used in the treatment of urinary incontinence. 
  • WTO attorneys have litigated numerous suits for Stryker Howmedica Osteonics arising from the use of prosthetic hip and knee joints.

Representative Cases
  • Assisted a biotech company in an appellate briefing before the Federal Circuit, resulting in reversal of an adverse summary judgment and remand to the state court where our client had filed the complaint.
  • Defending a medical device company facing allegations that its product catastrophically injured a patient's heart. Singh v. Edwards LifeSciences Corp. (Cal.).
  • Won exclusion of plaintiffs' general-causation experts in multidistrict litigation involving more than 600 claimants alleging the antidepressant Zoloft caused birth defects.
  • Developed a novel argument for summary judgment in defense of GE Healthcare in its Omniscan litigation. The trial court granted summary judgment, and that ruling is currently on appeal to the Sixth Circuit.
  • Successfully defended a pharmaceutical company against claims that a convicted murderer's actions were induced by prescription medication. The plaintiff dismissed the case after 18 months of intense litigation. Anderson v. Pfizer Inc. (No. 05-c-1680, N. Dak. 2010).
  • Won a jury defense verdict for an orthopedic spine surgeon in a medical malpractice case with millions of dollars in damage claims at stake, including eight years of accruing pretrial interest.
  • Represent Advanced Bionics in hundreds of cases involving personal injury related to its cochlear implants, which are classified as Class III medical devices.
  • Serve as national trial and national resolution counsel to GE Healthcare for the more than 700 claims relating to its healthcare product Omniscan, an imaging agent alleged to cause nephrogenic systemic fibrosis, a chronic debilitating disease, in some patients. WTO lawyers developed the national litigation strategy and tried the test cases, and have also directly negotiated hundreds of settlements resulting from the litigation.
  • Represent Guidant in hundreds of cases relating to its abdominal stents, which are Class III medical devices used to treat abdominal aortic aneurysms.
  • Obtained a favorable settlement for a pharmaceutical company against claims that the plaintiff developed Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS) from use of medication. Wilson v. Wyeth Pharmaceuticals (No. 2008cv02763 E. Dist. Ark., 2008).
  • Represented Pfizer in a groundbreaking preemption case before the Third Circuit. McNellis v. Pfizer, Nos. 06-3107 and 06-5148, 2008 WL 927848 (3d Cir. Apr. 8, 2008).
  • Currently serve as national trial counsel to pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors such as Pfizer, Merck, NorthstarRx, and McKesson in pattern litigation relating to popular medications such as Zoloft, Fen-Phen, Effexor, Vioxx, and the generics metoclopramide, sodium alendronate, allopurinol, and finasteride.
  • Successfully defended an international manufacturer of medical devices in a class action and individual product liability suits brought by patients whom had been implanted with a device that was later recalled. The plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed their class claims after WTO briefed the key class certification issue, paving the way to favorable non-class settlements of the individual actions.
  • Obtained summary judgment for Pfizer on preemption grounds in a case alleging that a popular antidepressant caused suicide. Dusek v. Pfizer.
  • Obtained voluntary dismissal of claims against Solvay Pharmaceuticals in litigation stemming from the 1999 Columbine High School shooting. Taylor v. Solvay Pharmaceutical.
  • Won summary judgment for Pfizer in federal court in Kansas in a case alleging that the company's antidepressant led to the suicide of a minor. Miller v. Pfizer Inc.
  • Represented The Doctors Company in pedicle screw litigation, in which more than 120 plaintiffs brought allegations of fraud, negligent credentialing, and failure to examine complication rates, all for profit.
  • Handle product liability cases involving complex issues of medical causation and the admissibility of medical experts' testimony as national trial counsel to major pharmaceutical manufacturers for several of their medications.
  • Defended Pfizer as national trial counsel in class action litigation involving alleged antitrust violations in prescription drug pricing.
  • WTO successfully defended a leading global developer of implantable, high-technology neurostimulation devices used in the treatment of deafness and chronic pain, in a preliminary injunction hearing when its main competitor claimed that our client had stolen trade secrets and improperly hired the competitor's former employees. Following denial of the competitor's motion for preliminary injunction filed in a Colorado district court, we defeated seven separate appeals to the Colorado Court of Appeals and the C
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