Recognized by her clients as a “terrific oral advocate”* and “superb in court,”* Pamela J. Yates is a highly successful life sciences and product liability trial lawyer who is consistently named one of California’s “Top Women Litigators” and internationally recognized as a “Life Science Star.” Validating these client comments, in recent years, Pamela has achieved several victories, including, most recently summary judgment on behalf of Bayer in a low dose aspirin case (July 2016), and in February 2016, a unanimous defense verdict on behalf of client Philip Morris USA. This follows Pamela’s numerous trial successes in several Engle progeny cases in Florida state and federal courts, and two major Daubert victories excluding plaintiffs’ general causation experts in complex MDL proceedings on behalf of client Pfizer (In Re: Zoloft (Sertraline Hydrochloride) Products Liability Litigation, April 2014 and September 2015).
Pamela is one of a very select group of female product liability litigators in the US who has tried cases in multiple state and federal court venues involving pharmaceuticals, consumer products, and medical devices. She has extensive experience in MDL and class action work, and for many years has acted as national coordinating counsel in various mass tort cases. In that role, she has been responsible for all aspects of litigation, including trial, trial preparation and strategy, science and overall Daubert strategy.
Successfully defending pharmaceutical companies began early in her career when, as a young associate, Pamela drafted the summary judgment in Daubert, which led to the US Supreme Court’s decision that ultimately set the standard for challenging the admissibility of expert testimony. Building on her success in Daubert, Pamela’s career has involved significant expert and science related work. For example, Pamela currently leads science teams defending claims relating to Zoloft, and before that, hormone therapy (HT) products. Earlier in her career, her science and trial work involved Rezulin and silicone implants. In addition to her science related work on HT products, Pamela served as co-lead trial defense counsel in several of the HT matters, securing back-to-back defense verdicts in West Virginia and Connecticut. Pamela currently heads up Pfizer’s science team in their defense of Zoloft, including her lead cross examination role in two recent Daubert science hearings that resulted in a major victory for the client.
Pamela’s stellar work has garnered significant recognition from a number of industry guides. Most Recently, Pamela was selected by her peers and clients for inclusion in Benchmark Top 250 Women in Litigation. She is ranked in Chambers USA 2015 and 2016 for Nationwide: Product Liability & Mass Torts, with clients praising her as “‘an excellent science lawyer who makes highly technical concepts clear to a lay jury” and “. . . excellent. She is always available, understands the life sciences and product liability landscape, and is just an incredible asset overall.’" She was recognized as a Law360 Product Liability MVP, ranked in The Best Lawyers in America 2016 and 2017 for Biotechnology Law and Product Liability Litigation, and was previously named in the Litigation and Product Liability Lawyers (2014) Expert Guide by Legal Media Group. Pamela’s victory as lead counsel for the science defense in Zoloft litigation for Pfizer Inc. was short-listed for Product Liability Impact Case of the Year at the 2014 LMG Life Sciences Awards and helped secure Pamela’s LMG Products Liability Lawyer of the Year Award. She is also a member of the team that won Product Liability Practice of the Year for 2013 from Law360, and has been recognized as one of California’s top women litigators in the Daily Journal’s supplement feature, “Top Women Litigators” (2009-2013, 2015, 2016). Pamela was named a “Life Science Star” in the 2013 – 2016 editions of Euromoney’s LMG Life Sciences and has been featured in Who’s Who Legal in the areas of Product Liability Defense (2007-2009, 2012, 2013 and 2016) and in Life Sciences (2010, 2012, 2013 and 2016). She is also recognized by Legal 500 US (2011-2016) for her work in Dispute Resolution 0 Product Liability, Mass Tort and Class Action – Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices – Defense. In January 2006, Kaye Scholer’s product liability lawyers were awarded The American Lawyer Litigation Product Liability Department of the Year. The award specifically references several successes in the Rezulin litigation, which involved Pamela. In August 2005, The National Law Journal’s “The Defense Hot List, sizing up Defense Firms With Big Wins” featured Pamela’s defense verdict, discussed below, in a multiple plaintiff products case, In Re Rezulin Litigation.
*Chambers USA 2014, Legal 500 2007
- In January 2015, Pamela was retained by Bayer Corporation as national counsel defending their oral anticoagulant prescription medicine, Xarelto. The cases have been coordinated in an MDL proceeding before Judge Fallon in the E.D. LA. Discovery is ongoing with the first trials anticipated in early 2017. In re: Xarelto (Rivaroxaban) Products Liability Litigation.
- Lead counsel for Bayer Corporation in a case involving claims of toxicity against low dose aspirin. The case resulted in a complete victory for the client when Judge Real (U.S.D.C. Central District, Cal.) granted summary judgment on all claims in June 2016. Steen v. Bayer et al., C.D. Cal.
- Currently acting as lead trial counsel for Philip Morris USA defending Engle class action progeny and non-Engle personal injury tobacco cases. In February 2016, a jury reached a unanimous defense verdict after deliberating for under two hours finding a former smoker’s lung cancer was not caused by her smoking. Pooshs v. Philip Morris et al., N.D. Cal. This verdict followed a series of successful verdicts in Engle progeny cases tried in Florida state and federal courts, including a June 2014 unanimous defense verdict. Surico v. Philip Morris USA Inc.
- Currently acting as coordinating science counsel (working with national counsel) for the science defense in Zoloft cases for Pfizer Inc. These efforts have resulted in two significant Daubert victories for the client. Indeed, Pamela was recognized for her thorough cross examination of the plaintiffs’ only causation expert in a week-long Daubert hearing (April 2014). On June 27, 2014, Judge Rufe issued an opinion and order stating that the “methodology and reasoning underlying Dr. Berard’s opinion is not scientifically valid and excluding all of the opinions as being based on a “novel methodology.” In Re: Zoloft (Sertraline) Products Liability Litigation, E.D. Pa. A second Daubert hearing took place in September 2015 when plaintiffs were permitted to substitute a new causation expert, Dr. Nicholas Jewell. As with the first expert, Pamela cross-examined Dr. Jewell. After a three day hearing, Judge Rufe issued a second opinion and order, excluding this replacement expert.
- Currently acting as co-national counsel for Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc. with her NY partner Andrew K. Solow, in product liability litigation, including an MDL, involving TRT (Testosterone Replacement Therapy) products defending against claims of heart attack, stroke and related cardiac issues.
- Previously served as national and local counsel for Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Qualitest in the successful defense of lawsuits relating to a recall of several oral contraceptive products. Pamela coordinated all phases of the litigation and has led her team to several successes, including successfully opposing formation of an MDL proceeding, and defeating three purported class actions in California, Georgia and Illinois.
- Previously acted as national counsel for Pfizer Inc. in the HT litigation. Responsibilities include acting as lead trial counsel, creating, coordinating and implementing the science defense and handling all phases of litigation, involving several hormone therapy products.
- In May 2012, Pamela, along with Andrew K. Solow (Partner in the New York office), served as co-lead trial counsel for Pfizer units Wyeth, Inc. and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals Inc. in US District Court (Connecticut) and obtained a defense verdict on all counts related to a wrongful death suit involving Wyeth’s hormone therapy (HT) medications Premarin and Prempro. After a three-week trial, the jury dismissed all four of the alleged claims. This decision marks Pamela and Andrew’s second win in less than one year regarding both HT medications. Lynn Gardner Moss, et al. v. Wyeth, Inc., et al.
- In July 2011, Pamela, along with Andrew K. Solow, served as trial counsel for Pfizer units, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Pharmacia & Upjohn Co., and obtained a defense verdict in a case involving claims of injuries from the client’s HT medicines. After a three-week trial, the jury found that the HT prescription medicines did not cause the plaintiff’s breast cancer and that the plaintiff’s claims were time-barred by the applicable statute of limitations. Notably, this was the first defense verdict for Pharmacia & Upjohn in the hormone therapy litigation. Hines v. Wyeth, et al.
- Served as national and local counsel for Pfizer Inc. (Warner-Lambert) in the Rezulin (diabetic medication) litigation. Responsibilities covered all aspects of litigation. Pamela obtained unanimous defense verdicts against all plaintiffs in the first in the nation consolidated plaintiff trial. All three plaintiffs claimed liver injury from exposure to the medication. This verdict was featured in The National Law Journal’s “The Defense Hot List: Sizing Up Defense Firms with Big Wins” (August 22, 2005).
- Pamela, along with others on the Kaye Scholer team, won an important Daubert victory in the Rezulin multidistrict litigation (2005 WL 583751 (S.D.N.Y.)). After a two-day hearing, the court ruled that plaintiffs could not rely on their proposed expert testimony that Rezulin caused a “silent” liver injury. Pamela cross-examined the plaintiffs’ lead toxicologist, which was the focus of the court’s Daubert opinion excluding said testimony.
- Acted as National Coordinating Counsel in the silicone breast implant litigation, representing Baxter Healthcare Corporation and Baxter International Inc. Responsibilities involved handling all phases of litigation, including trials. Pamela obtained defense verdicts in two separate multiple plaintiff trials in Texas. All plaintiffs claimed defective implants due to rupture, negligence, failure to warn, strict liability and fraud. The juries returned defense verdicts on all claims.
- Represented Wyeth Inc., defending their diet medications Dexfenfluramine and Fenfluramine in the Phen-Fen litigation. Specifically, Pamela was responsible for deposing and defending expert witnesses, and developing national experts in the areas of cardiology and pulmonology.
- Acted as national counsel for Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals Inc., the manufacturer of Bendectin, an anti-nausea medication for pregnant women. She successfully defended the company against claims of birth defects, ultimately resulting in many courts excluding plaintiff’s expert evidence on the grounds of “junk science,” following her Daubert
- The landmark case of Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 727 F.Supp. 570 (S.D. Cal. 1989); aff’d 951 F.2d 1128 (1991); 509 U.S. 579 (1993). Daubert sets forth the standard by which judges are to act as gatekeepers in excluding “junk science” from the courtroom.
- Served as national counsel for pharmaceutical clients in the L-trytophan litigation. Claims involved manufacturing and design defects resulting in Eosinophilia Myalgia Syndrome.
- Defended heart valves and other implantable medical devices on behalf of Baxter Healthcare Corporation.
- Defended multiple clients in toxic tort exposure claims.
- Defended and advised clients in product recalls, including consumer products.
Pro Bono Activities
From 2005-2013, Pamela was the Los Angeles partner in charge of pro bono activities, which included tenant disputes with landlords, asylum cases, death penalty cases, victims of home equity fraud and guardian ad litem cases.
Pamela was a finalist in the philanthropy category for her pro bono leadership at the Los Angeles Business Journal’s 2009 “Women Making A Difference” program and ceremony on May 5, 2009.
Pamela was a recipient of the 2007 Wiley W. Manuel Award for Pro Bono legal services awarded by the State Bar of California’s Board of Governors in recognition of her “voluntary provision of legal services to the poor.”
Publications and Presentations
Speaker, “IADC Talks: The New Normal and Why it Matters; Leaning In – let’s break the glass ceiling once and for all”; IADC Annual Meeting, Vienna, Austria, July 2014.
Speaker, “Drug, Device and Biotechnology/Medical Defense: Overcoming Tensions Between Drug/Device Defendants and Treating Physicians,” IADC’s 2014 Midyear Meeting, February 11, 2014. (Also presented as IADC webinar, June 18, 2014.)
Co-author, “Overcoming Tensions between Drug/Device Defendants and Treating Physicians,” IADC Midyear Meeting Materials, February 2014.
Speaker, “Strategically Using Daubert in Cross-Examination to Establish Important Defense Themes,” ACI’s 18th Annual Drug & Medical Device Litigation Conference, December 9-11, 2013.
“Is the Doctor In? Litigation Do’s and Don’ts of Contacting Treating Physicians,” Rx for the Defense, October 15, 2013.
Served as a faculty member at the International Association of Defense Counsel’s (IADC) 41st Annual Trial Academy, held at Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA, July 27-August 2, 2013.
“Defending Daubert, 20 years after it was decided,” Los Angeles Daily Journal, June 28, 2013.
Speaker, “The Multiple-Plaintiff Pharmaceutical Trial: Keys to a Successful Defense,” DRI Drug and Medical Device Conference, New York, NY, May 2013.
Presentation outline: “Taking the Deposition of the Prescriber: The Trial Lawyer’s Perspective” DRI’s Drug and Medical Device Conference, May 10-11, 2012. Speech given by James Herschlein (Partner, NY office).
“Have You Analyzed Potential Daubert Challenges From All Angles?,” IADC Webinar, March 23, 2011.
Invited panelist at the Southwestern Women’s Law Association “Work Life Balance Panel,” March 31, 2009.
Speaker, “How Do You Define ‘Design’ in a Design Defect Case,” IADC Mid-Year Meeting 2009, February 2009.
Invited panelist for Daily Journal-sponsored roundtable on product liability, published in the November 2008 issue of California Lawyer.
“Products Liability — Recall Related Evidence,” The National Law Journal, January 28, 2008.
“Take Your Medicine — Recalling a Defective Product Is a Company’s Best Option,” In-House Publication (a Dolan Media publication), January 2008.
Invited panelist for Daily Journal-sponsored roundtable on product liability, published in the December 2007 issue of California Lawyer.
Speaker for multi-venue MCLE presentation titled “Corporate Strategies That Win Jury Trials” for the Association of Corporate Counsel’s in-house counsel members, October 17, 2007.
ABA, Women In Products Liability Conference, Lunchtime Speaker: “There are Trials and You Can Win,” November 17, 2005.
Product Liability Update: “The End of An Era: Lessons to be Learned from the Bendectin Litigation” (1998).
In re Zoloft Products Liability Litigation, ___ F. Supp.2d ___, 2014 WL (E.D.Pa. June 27, 2014)
In Re Rezulin Products Liability Litigation (2005) WL 583751 (S.D.N.Y.).
Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 727 F.Supp. 570 (S.D. Cal. 1989); aff’d 951 F.2d 1128 (1991); 509 U.S. 579 (1993).
Obiago v. Merrell National Laboratory, Inc., 560 So. 2d 625 (La. App. 4 Cir); writ denied 565 So. 2d 445 (La. 1990).
Pamela was born and raised in England. She represented England in junior tennis matches and came to the US on a tennis scholarship. She is a three time NCAA Women’s Tennis Division II winner as well as a two time recipient of All American Honors. Additionally, Pamela was a recipient of the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship in recognition of her academic and athletic achievements.
In The Market
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