Sheila S. Boston is a commercial litigator and key member of Kaye Scholer’s Product Liability Group, which was named one of Law 360’s Practice Groups of the Year for 2013, Product Liability Firm of the Year at the 2008 Chambers and Partners “USA Awards for Excellence” ceremony; has ranked in the top tier for Product Liability Litigation by Chambers USA since 2007; has ranked in the top tier for Pharmaceutical Product Liability and Mass Tort Defense by Legal 500 since 2007; and was chosen by The American Lawyer as the 2006 Product Liability Department of the Year. Sheila has received individual recognition from International Who’s Who of Product Liability Defense Lawyers in 2012 and 2013, and Who’s Who Legal 2014 for product liability defense. She is also recognized for her commitment to the New York legal community, and The New York Law Journal recently honored Sheila’s contribution to public service with a Lifetime Achievement award.
Sheila has successfully litigated before both state and federal courts; she has notable MDL experience in mass tort actions, has provided litigation avoidance counseling and conducted audits to evaluate the potential product-related liabilities in proposed corporate acquisitions and reorganizations. She helps her clients by assessing litigation risks and defending lucrative products by weeding out frivolous individual personal injury lawsuits, defending against class actions and mass torts, and devising creative settlement solutions. Sheila is valued by her clients for her advocacy skills, dependability and collaborative spirit. Having worked closely with many defense attorneys outside of Kaye Scholer, she is comfortable participating in “virtual” law firms and “plays well in the sandbox” as national, regional or local counsel.
Adept in “battle of the experts” litigation, Sheila has served as national coordinating counsel of experts, involving the retention, development and preparation of experts for depositions, Daubert/Frye hearings and trials; she has worked with experts in various fields of medicine and science such as toxicology, infectious diseases, epidemiology, oncology, urology, hepatology, endocrinology, cardiology, psychology, and psychiatry. Sheila has a general commercial litigation practice, but has mostly focused on product liability issues in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries. Her notable product liability experience includes artificial heart valve litigation, agricultural pesticide class action litigation, penile prosthesis litigation, Viagra litigation, Rezulin (diabetic drug) litigation, and Seroquel (antipsychotic drug) litigation.
Sheila’s recent publications include: “Know the Stakes When the Stork Comes: Damages and Defenses in Pregnancy Tort Actions” in The Voice, vol. 12, issue 29 (July 25, 2013); “When Will Plaintiffs Learn to Let Treating Physicians Be Treating Physicians?” in RX For The Defense, vol. 20(1) (April 18, 2012); “Alert: Pharmaceutical Company Internal Documents Are Being Accumulated, Organized, Indexed and Posted on the Internet,” in RX For The Defense, vol. 18(2) (Nov. 20, 2010); and a chapter titled “Advantages and Disadvantages of Multidistrict Litigation” for Practising Law Institute’s treatise Product Liability Litigation: Current Law, Strategies and Best Practices (October 2009). She also authored a paper and presented “Sales Rep 101: A Primer of Issues Relating to Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Sales Representatives,” at the DRI Drug and Medical Device Seminar (May 2007).
One of Sheila’s proudest moments in her career involved serving as trial counsel in McReynolds v. Sodexho, Inc., a promotion discrimination class action brought on behalf of over 2,400 African-American mid-level manager plaintiffs. The litigation resolved favorably in a $80 million settlement with injunctive relief.
A passionate advocate for diversity, Sheila served as the Chair of the firm’s Diversity Committee for eight years; is a member of the firm’s Recruitment Committee; serves as the Chair of the New York City Bar Association’s Enhance Diversity in the Profession Committee (member since September 2004); and received the New York City Bar Association’s Diversity Champion Award in May 2011. In 2009, she received the Columbia Law School BLSA Distinguished Alumni Award. In 2008, she was one of the recipients of the “Forty Under 40” award given by The Network Journal, a minority professional business magazine. In 2007, she received the “Lawyer of the Year” award from the Metropolitan Black Bar Association for her generous contributions to the New York City legal community and for her many civic contributions to the African-American community at large.
Her leadership positions have included:
- Member, National Bar Association Board of Governors (August 2014 – present)
- Elected Member, Nominating Committee of the New York City Bar Association (2014-2015)
- Chair, Federal Bar Council’s Winter Bench & Bar Conference (February 8-15, 2014)
- President, Federal Bar Council’s Inn of Court (2014–2015)
- NY State Attorney General-Elect Schneiderman’s Transition Team (November 2010–January 2011)
- Departmental Disciplinary Committee, Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, First Judicial Department (2009–present)
- Legal Momentum Board of Legal Advisors (2013–present)
- Vice President of the Federal Bar Council (2009–2012)
- Membership Chair, Federal Bar Council American Inn of Court (2008–present)
- Church Clerk, Abyssinian Baptist Church (2009–present)
- Chair (May 2013-present) and Vice Chair of Marketing (2011–2013) and Steering Committee Member (2006–present), DRI Drug and Medical Device Seminar Planning Committee
- Committee to Nominate Alumni Trustees, Princeton University (2011–present)
- Chair (September 2012–present) and Member (September 2004–present), Enhance Diversity in the Profession Committee, The New York City Bar
- Secretary, The New York City Bar (2007–2012)
- Chair, Committee on Recruitment and Retention of Lawyers, The New York City Bar (September 2004–August 2007)
- Trustee, Federal Bar Council (November 2006–November 2009)
- Advisor/Mentor, Bronx High School of Law, Government & Justice Mock Trial Team (2004–2011)
- Member, Public Interest Committee, New York State Bar Association (1997–1999)
Sheila is also passionate about pro bono legal services. Notably, she recently served as one of the lead counsel in a pro bono post-conviction death penalty proceeding, Stinski v. State of Georgia, which was tried before a judge within prison walls - e.g., in a hearing room inside of a maximum security Georgia state prison. Sheila was responsible for presenting three expert witnesses on the stand. Currently the Co-Chair of the firm’s Pro Bono Committee, Sheila has received her firm’s annual award for contributing 50 or more hours of pro bono legal work each year since 2004; was honored by the New York State Bar Association as Empire State Counsel in 2011 and 2012; received the Network for Women’s Services Associate Justice Award for her legal representation of indigent women in 2000; and formerly served as a member of the New York State Bar Association’s Public Interest Committee in 1997–1999. In addition to her provision of pro bono legal services, each year Sheila accepts several public speaking engagements. For example, she is an annual speaker for both the PALS (Practicing Attorneys for Law Students) orientation for junior associates of color at firms across NYC and the New York City Bar’s Diversity Fellowship Program orientation for diverse first year law school students. Sheila also volunteers as a motivational speaker for schools, churches and youth groups across the country and overseas.