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Kaye Scholer Chosen Best in Product Liability

January 2, 2006

The American Lawyer, the legal industry's leading monthly magazine, announced that Kaye Scholer LLP had won its biennial competition as the best product liability practice in the country. In "high stakes, complex" pharmaceutical mass tort litigation, which can "escalate rapidly to risk-the-company proportions," Kaye Scholer was recognized for its "unparalleled expertise in cutting-edge product liability defense work." Acknowledging the award, our managing partner, Barry Willner, noted, "From Fen/Phen to Vioxx, the trend has been toward pharmaceutical mass torts that seriously jeopardize companies' shareholder value." It is in this arena that The American Lawyer found "Kaye Scholer excels."

The firm's "work stands out for its achievements -- and for its impact." Specifically, Kaye Scholer was cited for having "kept one pharmaceutical mass tort from spiraling out of control" (phenylpropanolamine, PPA, for Novartis Consumer Health, Inc.); for having "largely tamed another into submission" (Rezulin for Pfizer Inc.); and for having "finalized the settlement of a third" (ProteGen Sling for Boston Scientific Corporation). Quoted in a special American Lawyer supplement about the PPA litigation, Sean Reilly, general counsel of Novartis Consumer Health, said, "Our management views this as a potential disaster that didn't happen." Allen Waxman, head of litigation at Pfizer, said, "This is some of the most high-stakes products work there is. So if they can do [pharmaceutical mass torts], they can do anything."

The firm's capabilities in mass tort litigation extend beyond "manag[ing] enormous case loads" and "coordinate[ing] work of cocounsel." Kaye Scholer partners "try many of the cases, as sole, co- or lead trial counsel, sometimes simultaneously on opposite coasts." And, again, the firm gets "impressive results." In six PPA trials during the past two years, "Kaye Scholer has gone undefeated." Above all else, says Pfizer's Waxman, the firm has "a strategic vision on litigation, from how to handle removal, to expert issues, to [trials]. I never feel like I get a cookie cutter solution. They are sweating [my] problems."

The American Lawyer award caps a year of honors for Kaye Scholer's product liability practice, including being named by The National Law Journal as one of the nation's ten "hottest" defense firms and as having won one of the ten most significant defense verdicts. The group's strategic coordination of the PPA litigation was spotlighted in "A Line in the Sand" which appeared in Litigation 2005, a special supplement to The American Lawyer and Corporate Counsel.

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