Recognized by her clients as a âterrific oral advocateâ* and âsuperb in court,â* Pamela J. Yates is a highly successful life sciences and product liability trial lawyer who is consistently named one of Californiaâs âTop Women Litigatorsâ and internationally recognized as a âLife Science Star.â Validating these client comments, Pam recently achieved several victories, including a unanimous defense verdict on behalf of client Philip Morris USA in an Engle progeny case in Florida (Surico v. Philip Morris USA Inc., June 2014), a major Daubert victory excluding plaintiffsâ general causation expert in complex MDL proceedings on behalf of client Pfizer (In Re: Zoloft (Sertraline Hydrochloride) Products Liability Litigation, June 2014), and successfully opposed the formation of an MDL proceeding involving lawsuits arising from a recall of oral contraceptives on behalf of Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc. (Betancourt v. Qualitest Products, Inc. et al).
Pam 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. Pam 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, Pam drafted the summary judgment in Daubert, which led to the US Supreme Courtâs decision that ultimately set the standard for challenging the admissibility of expert testimony. Building on her success in Daubert, Pamâs career has involved significant expert and science related work. For example, Pam led Pfizerâs expert and science teams defending claims relating to hormone therapy (HT) products and before that, Rezulin and silicone implants. In addition to her science related work on HT products, Pam served as co-lead trial defense counsel in several of the HT matters, securing back-to-back defense verdicts in West Virginia and Connecticut. Pam currently heads up Pfizerâs science team in their defense of Zoloft, including her lead role in a recent Daubert science hearing that resulted in a major victory for the client.
Pamâs stellar work has garnered significant recognition from a number of industry guides. Notably, Pam was ranked in Chambers USA 2014 for Nationwide: Product Liability & Mass Torts, with clients praising her as a ââterrific oral advocateâ who âdelivers high-quality service, top-notch analysis and strategy.ââ Most recently, she was recognized as a Law360 Product Liability MVP and ranked in The Best Lawyers in America 2015 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. Pam is a member of the team that won Product Liability Practice of the Year for 2013 from Law360, and has been recognized as one of Californiaâs top women litigators in the Daily Journalâs supplement feature, âTop Women Litigatorsâ (2009-2013). Pam was also recently recognized as a âLife Science Starâ by Euromoneyâs 2013 LMG Life Sciences Guide and has been featured in Whoâs Who Legal in the areas of Product Liability Defense (2007, 2008, 2009, 2012 and 2013) and in Life Sciences (2010, 2012 and 2013). In January 2006, Kaye Scholerâs 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 Pam. In August 2005, The National Law Journalâs âThe Defense Hot List, sizing up Defense Firms With Big Winsâ featured Pamâs defense verdict, discussed below, in a multiple plaintiff products case, In Re Rezulin Litigation.
*Chambers USA 2014, Legal 500 2007
- Currently acting as national counsel for Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc. in product liability litigation, including an MDL, involving testosterone products regarding claims of heart attack, stroke and related cardiac issues.
- Currently acting as trial counsel for Philip Morris USA defending Engle class action progeny tobacco cases. On June 6, 2014, Pam achieved a unanimous defense verdict on behalf of Philip Morris USA in an Engle progeny case in Florida. Surico v. Philip Morris USA Inc.
- Currently acting as lead counsel for the science defense in Zoloft cases for Pfizer Inc. Most recently, Pam was recognized for her thorough cross examination of the plaintiffsâ only causation expert in a week-long Daubert hearing. On June 27, 2014, Judge Rufe issued an opinion and order stating that the âmethodology and reasoning underlying Dr. Berardâs opinion is not scientifically valid and excluding all of the opinions as being based on a ânovel methodology.â In Re:Â Zoloft (Sertraline) Products Liability Litigation, E.D. Pa.
- Currently serving 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. Pam coordinates all phases of the litigation and has led her team to several successes, including successfully opposing formation of an MDL proceeding, and defeating two purported class actions in California 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, Pam, 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 Wyethâs hormone therapy (HT) medications Premarin and Prempro. After a three-week trial, the jury dismissed all four of the alleged claims. This decision marks Pam and Andrewâs second win in less than one year regarding both HT medications. Lynn Gardner Moss, et al. v. Wyeth, Inc., et al.
- In July 2011, Pam, 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 clientâs HT medicines. After a three-week trial, the jury found that the HT prescription medicines did not cause the plaintiffâs breast cancer and that the plaintiffâs 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.
- Previously retained as trial counsel for Boehringer Ingelheim defending its blood thinning medicine Pradaxa against product liability lawsuits.
- The landmark case of Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 727 F.Supp. 570 (S.D. Cal. 1989); affâd 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 âjunk scienceâ from the courtroom.
- Served as national and local counsel for Pfizer Inc. (Warner-Lambert) in the Rezulin (diabetic medication) litigation. Responsibilities covered all aspects of litigation. Pam 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 Journalâs âThe Defense Hot List: Sizing Up Defense Firms with Big Winsâ (August 22, 2005).
- Pam, 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 âsilentâ liver injury. Pam cross-examined the plaintiffsâ lead toxicologist, which was the focus of the courtâs 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. Pam 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, Pam 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 plaintiffâs expert evidence on the grounds of âjunk science,â following her Daubert success.
- 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, Pam 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 Journalâs 2009 âWomen Making A Differenceâ 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 Californiaâs Board of Governors in recognition of her âvoluntary provision of legal services to the poor.â
Publications and Presentations
Speaker, âIADC Talks:Â The New Normal and Why it Matters; Leaning In â letâs break the glass ceiling once and for allâ; IADC Annual Meeting, Vienna, Austria, July 2014.
Speaker, âDrug, Device and Biotechnology/Medical Defense: Overcoming Tensions Between Drug/Device Defendants and Treating Physicians,â IADCâs 2014 Midyear Meeting, February 11, 2014. (Also presented as IADC webinar, June 18, 2014.)
Co-author, âOvercoming Tensions between Drug/Device Defendants and Treating Physicians,â IADC Midyear Meeting Materials, February 2014.
Speaker, âStrategically Using Daubert in Cross-Examination to Establish Important Defense Themes,â ACIâs 18th Annual Drug & Medical Device Litigation Conference, December 9-11, 2013.
âIs the Doctor In? Litigation Doâs and Donâts of Contacting Treating Physicians,â Rx for the Defense, October 15, 2013.
Served as a faculty member at the International Association of Defense Counselâs (IADC) 41st Annual Trial Academy, held at Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA, July 27-August 2, 2013.
âDefending Daubert, 20 years after it was decided,â Los Angeles Daily Journal, June 28, 2013.
Speaker, âThe Multiple-Plaintiff Pharmaceutical Trial: Keys to a Successful Defense,â DRI Drug and Medical Device Conference, New York, NY, May 2013.
Presentation outline: âTaking the Deposition of the Prescriber: The Trial Lawyerâs Perspectiveâ DRIâs Drug and Medical Device Conference, May 10-11, 2012. Speech given by James Herschlein (Partner, NY office).
âHave You Analyzed Potential Daubert Challenges From All Angles?,â IADC Webinar, March 23, 2011.
Invited panelist at the Southwestern Womenâs Law Association âWork Life Balance Panel,â March 31, 2009.
Speaker, âHow Do You Define âDesignâ in a Design Defect Case,â 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.
âProducts Liability â Recall Related Evidence,â The National Law Journal, January 28, 2008.
âTake Your Medicine â Recalling a Defective Product Is a Companyâs Best Option,â 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 âCorporate Strategies That Win Jury Trialsâ for the Association of Corporate Counselâs in-house counsel members, October 17, 2007.
ABA, Women In Products Liability Conference, Lunchtime Speaker: âThere are Trials and You Can Win,â November 17, 2005.
Product Liability Update: âThe End of An Era: Lessons to be Learned from the Bendectin Litigationâ (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); affâd 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 Womenâs 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.