Laura S. Fitzpatrick is a shareholder at Simmons Hanly Conroy in the Complex Litigation Department. Based out of the New York office, her primary practice is in the area of complex multidistrict litigation and class actions, focusing primarily on pharmaceutical and medical device products liability cases and clergy sexual abuse cases.

In her 10-plus years practicing law, Laura has built an extensive resume with impressive results. Familiar with all phases of litigation both in and out of the courtroom, Laura’s experience establishes her as a valuable member of any team. Her ability to work collaboratively with hundreds of lawyers from dozens of law firms accentuates her already notable skill set. Just recently Law360 recognized her as a 2022 Rising Star, one of only a handful of members of the Plaintiff’s bar to receive this honor.

Federal Court Experience

Laura has considerable federal court experience as an active member of the bellwether trial teams for the following litigations:

  • In re: National Prescription Opiate Litigation, MDL 2804 (Northern District of Ohio), which resulted in the first ever jury verdict against the chain pharmacy defendants finding that CVS, Walgreens and Wal Mart substantially contributed to the opioid crisis in Lake and Trumbull counties in Ohio
  • In re: National Prescription Opiate Litigation, MDL 2804 (Northern District of Ohio), which resulted in a total recovery of $325 million for Cuyahoga and Summit counties in Ohio against manufacturer and distributor defendants.
  • In re: DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc., Pinnacle Hip Implant Products Liability Litigation, MDL 2244 (Northern District of Texas), which resulted in $1.75 billion total recovery for more than 9,000 patients.
  • In re: Genetically Modified Rice Litigation, MDL 1811 (Eastern District of Missouri)

In addition to her extensive trial experience, Laura has argued before the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation on behalf of her clients and is intimately familiar with the MDL practice, having co-authored bar law journal articles on topics ranging from the ethical considerations of global and class settlements to MDL bellwether trial practice and procedure.

In February 2020, Laura was appointed to the Plaintiffs Executive Committee (PEC) for the MDL involving Allergan’s Biocell textured breast implants, which were linked to a rare type of cancer called anaplastic large-cell lymphoma (ALCL). The litigation is In re: Allergan Biocell Implant Products Liability, MDL 2921 (District of New Jersey). The MDL includes both individual and class action suits. Laura and the rest of the PEC currently are working on picking bellwether clients for the trials.

Fighting the Opioid Epidemic

In addition to her courtroom experience, Laura has become adept at the proverbial “nuts and bolts” of litigation, including but not limited to taking depositions, preparing experts, and contributing considerably to strategic decision-making, both with respect to pre-liability development as well as trial and settlement negotiations.

These skills have been especially valuable as part of Laura’s work as an integral member of the federal Prescription Opiate MDL trial team and the NY state court trial team that successfully litigated the nation’s first opioid case to be heard before a state jury, securing a liability verdict against the manufacturer and distributor defendants remaining in the case.

In October 2019, Laura was instrumental in helping secure a total recovery of $325 million for Cuyahoga and Summit counties in Ohio in the first federal bellwether trial. She built liability profiles and worked on developing a cohesive story for the trial team that encompassed all of the defendants, tying the various firms and lawyers working on the case together.

“For opioids litigation, the challenge that it presents is you really have cases within a case,” Laura explained. “The role that I play has been really boiling down the issues such that you can tell one coherent story in a way that a jury can understand.”

For the 2021 bellwether trial against three of the nation’s largest retail pharmacy chains, CVS, Walgreens and Wal-Mart, Laura developed strategies related to witnesses and evidence to be offered at trial, with a particular focus on defendant CVS Pharmacy, helping the team to achieve a landmark November 2021 jury verdict. The verdict was the first of its kind, finding that the chain pharmacy defendants substantially contributed to the opioid crisis in two Ohio counties.

Laura more recently served on the trial team for the second abatement phase of this trial, which concluded in May 2022 and currently is awaiting a judicial order determining the amount CVS, Walgreens and Wal-Mart must pay to abate the crisis they helped to create in Lake and Trumbull counties.

New York State Opioid Trial

In addition to the federal front, Laura was a key member of the New York State opioid litigation trial team. Laura served as lead counsel Jayne Conroy’s key person in liability and general trial management for the New York State trial, considered one of the largest and longest civil trial proceedings in New York history.

The team negotiated $1.7 billion in settlements prior to trial, and on Dec. 30, 2021, the jury found the final defendants — Teva and Anda — 100 percent liable for their role in the opioid crisis in New York state and Suffolk and Nassau counties.

“The New York case is so important because it was the first jury trial to find that both manufacturer and distributor defendants substantially contributed to the opioid epidemic in this country,” Laura said. “We started with 12 major defendant families, securing settlements from 10 by the time of closing arguments.”

Leading up to the trial’s opening arguments, several original pharmacy defendants were severed from the trial, resulting in settlements with CVS, Walgreens, Rite-Aid and Wal-Mart. Additional settlements from the trial include:

  • The three largest U.S. drug distributors — McKesson Corporation, Cardinal Health Inc. and AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation — settled claims with New York State for a combined $1.18 billion.
  • Endo Pharmaceuticals and its subsidiaries agreed to a settlement with New York State, and Suffolk and Nassau Counties, totaling $50 million.
  • Johnson & Johnson settled with the state of New York for $263 million, and as part of their agreement, the company agreed to stop making opioids.
  • Former opioid manufacturer Allergan settled on the eve of closing arguments for $200 million.

These settlements provided recoveries for Suffolk and Nassau counties, the State of New York and numerous other New York counties the firm represents. The case will now move to Phase II to assess abatement damages against Teva and its affiliates, including Anda.

A Successful Verdict for Patients Injured by Defective Hip Implants

Laura also served as a member of the trial team for all bellwether trials for the DePuy Pinnacle MDL. Her work helped secure jury verdicts totaling more than $1.75 billion. Laura oversaw liability development, completed depositions, helped develop strategy, developed the order of witnesses and the plan for questioning, and served as the right hand to trial leads Mark Lanier and Jayne Conroy.

“Working on trial strategy and overall development of liability packages required me to know just about everything about the case,” Laura said. “It helped that I personally participated in over seventy depositions.”

Background and Education

In law school Laura served as a judicial extern to federal judge Carl J. Barbier in the Eastern District of Louisiana. Prior to joining the firm, Laura was a federal law clerk to the Honorable Tucker L. Melancon. In addition to managing Judge Melancon’s docket in the Western District of Louisiana, Laura had the unique opportunity and experience to assist Judge Melancon with his docket of trial ready cases in the Eastern District of New York and District of Connecticut, where Judge Melancon was a visiting judge.

Laura attended Louisiana State University, where she graduated with a B.A. in 2006. She earned her J.D. from Tulane Law School in 2009.

Representative Cases

  • In re: Allergan Biocell Implant Products Liability, MDL 2921. District of New Jersey. (Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee).
  • In re: National Prescription Opiate Litigation, MDL 2804. Northern District of Ohio, Tracks 1-11.
  • In re: Opioid Litigation, case number 400000/2017; County of Suffolk v. Purdue Pharma LP et al., case number 400001/2017; County of Nassau v. Purdue Pharma LP et al., case number 400008/2017; and State of New York v. Purdue Pharma LP et al., case number 400016/2018
  • In re: DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc., Pinnacle Hip Implant Products Liability Litigation, MDL 2244. Northern District of Texas.
  • St. Louis v. Perlitz et al., 3:13-cv-01132, U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut.
  • In re: Actos (Pioglitazone) Products Liability Litigation, MDL 2299. Western District of Louisiana
  • In re: DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc., ASR Hip Implant Products Liability Litigation, MDL 2197. Northern District of Ohio
  • In re: Volkswagen “Clean Diesel” Marketing, Sales Practices, And Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2672. Northern District of California
  • In re: Toyota Motor Corp. Unintended Acceleration Marketing, Sales Practices, and Product Liability Litigation, MDL 2151. Central District of California.
  • In re: Zimmer NexGen Knee Implant Products. Liability Litigation, MDL 2272 Northern District of Illinois.
  • In re: Biomet M2a Magnum Hip Implant Products Liability Litigation, MDL 2391. Northern District of Indiana
  • In re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig “Deep Water Horizon” in the Gulf of Mexico, on April 20 2010 Litigation, MDL 2179. Eastern District of Louisiana.
  • In re: Nuvaring Products Liability Litigation, MDL 1964. Eastern District of Missouri.
  • In re: Pool Products Distribution Market Antitrust Litigation, MDL 2328. Eastern District of Louisiana.
  • In re: Genetically Modified Rice Litigation, MDL 1811. Eastern District of Missouri

Practice Areas:

  • Class Actions
  • Mass Torts & Class Actions
  • Opioid Litigation
  • Pharmaceutical Litigation
  • Prescription Opioid Litigation
  • Sexual Abuse Litigation

Bar and Court Admissions:

  • Louisiana, 2009
  • U.S. District Courts for the Eastern, Western and Middle Districts of Louisiana, 2009
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, 2009

Recognition:

  • Rising Star, Law360, 2022
  • Law Clerk to Honorable Tucker L. Melancon, U.S. District Judge, Western District of Louisiana and Visiting Judge in Eastern District of New York and District of Connecticut (2009-2010)
  • Judicial Extern to Honorable Carl J. Barbier, U.S. District Judge, Eastern District of Louisiana (2008-2009)

Representative Experience:

Pharmaceutical Litigation

Education:

  • Louisiana State University, B.A., 2006
  • Tulane Law School, J.D., 2009