Alton, Ill. – Simmons Hanly Conroy, one of the nation’s leading mass tort and product liability law firms, is proud to announce that Sarah Burns, a shareholder who serves as a senior member of the opioid litigation team, has received a 2022 Women’s Justice Award from Missouri Lawyers Weekly. Burns will be honored in the Litigation category at the awards ceremony on May 12 at the Four Seasons Hotel in St. Louis.
“No list of Missouri’s top women litigators would be complete without recognizing the significant impact Sarah Burns’ prescription opioid litigation work has had — and will continue to have — on all Missouri and Illinois communities,” said Managing Shareholder Michael Angelides. “Her work is holding the entire opioid industry — from manufacturers and distributors to retail pharmacies — accountable for their role in perpetuating the opioid epidemic in our local communities.”
Shareholder and Co-Chair of Complex Litigation Jayne Conroy said, “Sarah is an exceptional litigator who is more than deserving of this accolade. We’re thrilled with her tireless work fighting for her clients and communities across Missouri and Illinois.”
The Litigation Practitioner Award recognizes attorneys who have made their careers in the courtroom. Burns is the day-to-day contact for SHC’s Missouri and Illinois clients, whose cases are consolidated in the Northern District of Ohio and the Circuit Court of Cook County, respectively. She filed their original opioid complaints as early as 2017 and has since helped lead a team of firm attorneys, co-leads and legal staff in guiding the cases through litigation. This entailed successfully navigating the discovery process (including several disputes), surviving motion practice and moving these cases forward through settlement negotiations.
This past year, Burns’ work saw results when Missouri joined the MDL’s $26 billion global settlement with the Big Three opioid distributors and Johnson & Johnson. Her team’s efforts in the coming months will result in hundreds of millions of dollars being allocated to help Missouri communities.
Burns joined Simmons Hanly Conroy in 2008 and was promoted to shareholder in 2018. In addition to her continuing success in opioid mass tort litigation, her legal track record includes high-profile cases in product liability mass torts and other class actions, including the Volkswagen “Clean Diesel” Multidistrict Litigation and the Syngenta GMO MIR162 Corn Seed MDL.
The VW litigation has secured nearly $16 billion in global settlements for vehicle owners, including many Missouri and Illinois residents, as well as competitor dealers impacted by VW’s emission scandal. The Syngenta Corn MDL secured a monumental $1.5 billion global class action settlement on behalf of farmers, grain elevators and distributors who were injured by the premature launch of Syngenta Seed Corp.’s genetically modified corn seed Agrisure Viptera.
Burns earned her J.D. from the University of Tulsa College of Law, where she graduated with honors. She graduated from the University of Missouri, Columbia with a B.S. in biochemistry. She is admitted to practice law in Missouri, before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, before the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and in the U.S. District Courts for the Eastern and Western District of Missouri, District of Kansas, Northern District of Indiana and Middle District of North Carolina.
Since 1999, the Women’s Justice Awards have honored women who demonstrate leadership, integrity, service, sacrifice and accomplishment while improving the quality of justice and exemplifying the highest ideals of the legal profession. This year’s 51 recipients include judges, in-house counsel, legal scholars, private practitioners and Missouri law school students. In addition to the awards reception, honorees will be profiled in a special edition of Missouri Lawyers Weekly.