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With more than 27 years of legal experience, Andrew S. Williams is a shareholder at Simmons Hanly Conroy. While his focus at the firm was initially on representing cases in pharmaceutical and medical mass tort litigation litigation, Andrew currently focuses his practice on representing individuals and families impacted by mesothelioma and asbestos. He specifically serves as a trial attorney, representing his clients in courtrooms nationwide.
As a mesothelioma trial attorney in the Asbestos Department, Andrew conducts discovery in preparation of trial and tries the case. His role is to make sure his clients’ cases are ready for trial and to present them to the judge and jury with the highest level of professionalism and personal care.
“Our clients can expect me to be honest with them about the good and bad aspects of their case,” Andrew said. “They can expect to feel like they’re part of the trial team and have a say in how their story is presented to the jury. And they can expect to get my cell number, so I’m available to them no matter where I am.”
Since 1993, Andrew has worked on cases filed in 28 states and the District of Columbia. He is admitted to practice in Missouri, Illinois, Texas, California and Florida as well as numerous federal district courts throughout the country. He has tried 65 jury trials in state and federal court.
Andrew graduated with his bachelor’s degree in finance and economics from the University of Missouri in Columbia in 1990. He earned his J.D. from the University of Missouri Columbia, School of Law in 1993. Before joining the firm, he worked as assistant city counselor for St. Louis. He represented the City and the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department in criminal and civil cases.
Andrew also has past experience litigating dangerous drugs and medical device cases and preparing them for trial. When Andrew managed the pharmaceutical litigation process, he handled everything from screening new clients and reviewing records to answering discovery and motions.
One of his main responsibilities was conducting depositions with clients, experts, doctors and defendants. Depositions allow Andrew’s team of attorneys to further investigate each case and prepare for trial.
“I helped people who were harmed through no fault of their own by a dangerous drug or defective medical device,” Andrew said. “I gave them information, understanding and, most of all, guidance about what they can do to hold those companies accountable for abusing that trust.”
Andrew informed his clients about the difficulties they may face with pharmaceutical injury litigation. He would explain that successful cases are based on proving the drug company was not honest with the public about drug side effects. One of the things he likes best about his job is the firm’s commitment to the clients.
“Our clients include people from all walks of life,” Andrew said. “We all have to take a pharmaceutical at some time, and it can affect the rich or the poor, the young or the elderly. No matter who we are, we can all be affected in the same way.”
Every day, millions of Americans entrust their health to drug or medical device manufacturers, Andrew said. He explained that trust can be misplaced when the companies put profits over people.
Andrew has helped thousands of people injured using the painkiller and drug finasteride found in Propecia and Proscar. He has also represented women who took SSRIs during pregnancy that resulted in birth defects. He has secured millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements on behalf of his clients.
In 2014, Andrew was the lead trial attorney for a case against Janssen Pharmaceuticals, and their parent company Johnson & Johnson, who make Topamax. Patients take Topamax for epilepsy and chronic migraines. Data from the North American Drug Pregnancy Registry shows the risk of oral defects is 16 times higher among mothers who took Topamax or its generic versions during their first trimester of pregnancy. This is compared to mothers who either did not take the drug or who took other antiepileptic drugs. More than 32 million prescriptions for Topamax were issued between January 2007 and December 2010. The drug was a multi-billion-dollar success for Johnson and Johnson, with sales of nearly $3 billion in 2008 alone.
Andrew represented Kelly and Brian Anderson at trial in the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia County against Janssen Pharmaceuticals. Kelly took Topamax during her pregnancy, and her baby was born with bilateral cleft palate and lip. At the time of the case, the Andersons’ child was five years old. Simmons Hanly Conroy secured a $3 million verdict for the Andersons against Janssen Pharmaceuticals. The manufacturer appealed the original decision. However, the verdict was upheld on appeal in May 2016.
“For me to truly measure success or failure is to gauge how satisfied my clients are,” Andrew said. “I work hard and strive to ensure they receive the best representation possible.”
Multidistrict litigation (MDL) happens when a federal judicial panel decides to consolidate similar cases around the nation into one judicial jurisdiction. Attorneys from around the country are then appointed by the judge to serve on a plaintiff steering committee that oversees the litigation on a national basis.
Andrew has been appointed to leadership positions in the following MDL:
Attorneys do not have to be appointed by a judge to work in an MDL. Andrew has worked on litigation for the following MDL cases: