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Paul J. Hanly, Jr. is a named shareholder in the New York Office at Simmons Hanly Conroy where he manages the firm’s Complex Litigation Group as a skilled trial lawyer and litigator.
With more than 40 years of legal experience, Paul has earned a superb national reputation as a gifted trial lawyer and litigator who has managed and tried numerous complex jury cases in virtually all areas of civil litigation. Through his leadership, Simmons Hanly Conroy has become a leading national law firm focused on helping individual consumers and small businesses hold large corporations accountable for wrongdoing.
Paul is renowned for his exhaustive trial preparation, imaginative trial strategies, nearly photographic memory of the contents of documents, and cross examinations that are tightly controlled and disarmingly effective. Paul helps clients who have been harmed in every conceivable way: by terrorism, child abuse, defective drugs and devices, toxic exposures and economic conspiracies.
“I have had the privilege to represent everyday people who have suffered serious injustices at the auspices of corporate America,” he said. “My firm is not afraid to stand up to big corporations and litigate these complex civil cases so that the people who truly need help have a strong voice in the legal system.”
Paul has litigated cases in hundreds of courts around the nation and taken more than 50 complex cases to jury verdict. For the first 20 years of his legal career, Paul served as lead national trial counsel and coordinating and settlement counsel to the world’s largest asbestos company in its asbestos product liability cases. He oversaw the work of more than 100 local counsel law firms and handled hundreds of thousands of cases.
For the past 20 years, Paul has represented plaintiffs exclusively. He has played key roles in some of the largest multidistrict litigations in the country, including serving in court-appointed leadership positions in federal district litigation involving prescription opioids, metal-on-metal hip implants, 9/11 terrorist attacks, Vioxx®, Bextra® and more. Paul is at home in the justice system, whether in federal or state court, and he seeks the best procedural course for the firm’s clients, including filing individual cases, class actions or multidistrict tort litigation.
“Corporate America is looking for any way possible to make the playing field unlevel, so wherever someone needs help, that’s where we will be,” he said.
Paul has played a leading role in the settlement of thousands of cases, resulting in recoveries for his clients in excess of $1 billion. His vast experience has resulted in multiple, significant settlements for the firm’s clients and thousands of others nationwide.
A sampling of his results includes:
Paul’s impressive legal career demonstrates his stature as one of the preeminent litigators of the nation’s plaintiffs’ bar. The National Trial Lawyers association, in partnership with The National Law Journal, underscored this in 2020 by awarding him the Elite Trial Lawyers’ Lifetime Achievement Award. In addition, U.S. News & World Report/Best Lawyers has recognized Paul as a “Best Lawyer” in Mass Torts & Class Actions – Plaintiffs since 2019.
Paul and the firm are at the forefront of the unprecedented mass tort litigation that seeks to resolve the ongoing opioid crisis. Paul serves as the co-lead of the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee that oversees the federal opioid litigation consolidated in the Northern District of Ohio.
In October 2019, Paul helped secured a total recovery of $325 million for two Ohio counties in the first federal bellwether trial against the opioid manufacturers. He was part of the team that hammered out the final settlement details on the eve of trial.
“This hard-fought victory for these two counties is just the first step in what we hope will be the ultimate resolution of the largest public health crisis in recent memory,” Paul said. “These companies now must accept full responsibility and do something significant to clean up the horrific mess they caused in communities across the country.”
In addition to his national leadership position, Paul serves as the lead of the consolidated opioid litigation in New York State Court and represents additional counties in Illinois, Pennsylvania and Connecticut state courts.
Paul’s expertise in the opioid litigation has been recognized in multiple national news organizations, such as the New York Times, Reuters, Bloomberg, CNN, CBS Evening News and more. STAT News reported that other plaintiffs’ counsel described Paul as being “wicked smart about this issue” and “has more knowledge about it than anyone in this country because he’s been doing it for so long.”
In 2003, Paul and Shareholder Jayne Conroy represented more than 5,000 individuals against Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin®. During a successful discovery phase, the legal team uncovered evidence proving the full extent of Purdue’s criminality and its fraudulent marketing campaign designed to persuade physicians that OxyContin was not addictive.
Following a 3-year battle, which saw Paul, Jayne and the firm file more than 1,200 cases in various courts across the country, Purdue Pharma settled the litigation for a significant confidential settlement. STAT News reported the settlement being “one of the few instances – maybe the only instances – in which a drug maker agreed to pay individual patients who alleged it had underplayed the addiction risk of its medication.”
The civil litigation also led to a U.S. Department of Justice investigation that resulted in Purdue Pharma paying more than $600 million in fines. Three of its executives also pled guilty to criminal charges that they misled regulators, doctors and patients about the drug’s risk of addiction and personally paid millions of dollars in fines.
Paul grew up not too far from the firm’s New York office. He became a lawyer because he wanted to continue his grandfather’s legacy of helping others. His grandfather was the Chairman of the Democratic Party in New Jersey and had dedicated his career to helping the less advantaged.
Paul earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Cornell University, a Master of Arts from Cambridge University and his Juris Doctor degree from Georgetown University.
After law school, Paul worked as a law clerk to the Hon. Lawrence A. Whipple, a U.S. District Judge in the District of New Jersey. Paul’s work during this clerkship made him realize he wanted to be a trial lawyer.
“Being a lawyer, doing this kind of work, is the greatest job anybody could have,” Paul said. “It makes me feel as if I’m doing my grandfather’s work – helping out people who need a hand.”