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Ozempic lead counsel selection process is model for judges in big cases

In March, during hearings that were the first hearing, which opened another tab in the ongoing litigation involving the alleged unreported side effects of Ozempic along with other diet medications, attorneys for plaintiffs told the Philadelphia federal court judge they had already decided on a team of four attorneys to head the mass tort lawsuit.

Ozempic-mounjaro

In March, during hearings that were the first hearing, which opened another tab in the ongoing litigation involving the alleged unreported side effects of Ozempic along with other diet medications, attorneys for plaintiffs told the Philadelphia federal court judge they had already decided on a team of four attorneys to head the mass tort lawsuit.

U.S. District Judge Gene Pratter of Philadelphia appointed creates a new tab for the identical four attorneys -four of them – Paul Pennock of Morgan & Morgan, Parvin Aminolroaya of Seeger Weiss, Sarah Ruane of Wagstaff, and Cartmell. Jonathan Orent of Motley Rice, as principal attorney in the district lawsuit against diet drug makers Novo Nordisk, opens a new tab, and Eli Lilly.

However, Pratter was not a mere rubber stamp.

Between the first trial in March and her leadership decision on Wednesday, the judge took extreme care to ensure that lawyers who weren’t members of the self-selected list had the opportunity to submit an application for a leadership position and to express their opinions on the selection process.

The judge also questioned whether there was genuine and overwhelming support for the slate that was self-selected for the appointment of a group that opened an entirely new page that includes eight law firms in March to be the primary members of the steering committee. One of the co-leaders proposed was part of that group, and it was later used as a selection panel to modify the original leadership idea and confirmed that the co-leads initially proposed received broad support from other lawyers involved in the case.

The Pratter process was not without controversy, particularly from one plaintiff’s firm, which opposed the whole concept of self-selection being used by “repeat players” in MDL cases.

However, ultimately, Pratter’s strategy—inviting leadership applications from everyone, maximizing efficiency by restricting the number of people in the group, and, perhaps most importantly, testing the degree of support for a supposedly unanimous group of co-lead counsel—is a good idea in many ways.

There are no formal guidelines to guide judges during the choice of counsel in these multidistrict trials, even though leadership selections have huge implications that affect hundreds of plaintiffs. The lead counsel decides how MDLs will be resolved and litigated. The leadership positions can be very lucrative as lawyers get a small portion of settlements to compensate for their work, which benefits all plaintiffs involved in the litigation.

Pratter’s strategy in handling the Ozempic case is a recognition of the high stakes. She owed respect to the plaintiffs’ lawyers, who negotiated to select their leadership before she was chosen to manage the Ozempic lawsuit. However, she broadened the scope of her selection to ensure that the slate she decided was the most effective in directing the case. This is a great model for other MDL judges to emulate.

I’ll take a moment to mention that Ozempic and Wegovy manufacturer Novo Nordisk said in an email that the allegations made within the MDL are “without merit” and will defend the case vigorously. DLA Piper has represented Novo. Novo does not represent the DLA Piper firm. Eli Lilly, which makes Mounjaro and the counsel for it at Kirkland & Ellis, responded to my inquiry. Each Lilly, along with Novo, has stated that their medicines are safe and that any adverse consequences are listed on the labels of their products.

This month, I told you about the initial conflict between the leadership during the Ozempic case. I’d like to now focus on Pratter’s appointment in the latter part of March of 8 plaintiff lawyers, among them Marcus Susen of Susen Law Group, who did not initially endorse the slate of consensus leaders as the steering committee.

The judge’s decision that I read from the judge’s order, as we reported at the time, was surprisingly vague. Pratter did not identify the lead counsel. It was left to the lawyers appointed to propose committee members and suggest an elaborate management structure that aligned with the judge’s concerns regarding effectiveness.

Two lawyers selected as members of the steering panel, Pennock of Morgan & Morgan and Alex Walsh of Walsh Law, said that their group didn’t think its members had been designated as lead counsel. Instead, they claimed that the group saw it as an evaluation panel tasked with deciding which plaintiffs’ attorneys would be the best fit for specific leadership roles.

In the words of committee members Walsh and Susan, the eight lawyers needed to represent various perspectives from individuals who weren’t included in the original slate for co-lead counsel.

Pennock was the sole selection committee member on the initial co-lead slate. He claimed that Pratter’s selection of lawyers to review the self-selected leaders was “savvy.”

“The court wanted to be sure,” Pennock said. Pennock, “that the previously proposed slate was what everyone wanted.”

The group met online multiple times to discuss the proposal to limit the list of leaders to 25 lawyers according to the way Pratter required and with specific duties for every lawyer. The plan was presented before Pratter in May. (The proposal was not considered docketed, and the counsel in charge has yet to reply to my request to review it, so it’s unclear whether Pratter took it up.) 

“What the judge did was great,” said Walsh. She suggested that plaintiffs’ lawyers should generally be able to choose how to take their cases, just as defendants select their lawyers. However, she agreed that the process of self-selection raises questions regarding fairness and exclusiveness. She claimed that establishing a committee to choose counsel eased the concerns.

“It’s how it should be done,” Susan stated.

Leader candidate Sarah Foster of the Schlesinger Law Offices reacted negatively to the proposed slate but did not reply to my email inquiry. She was not offered an official leadership position; however, Pratter was named liaison counsel at Fine Kaplan and Black to be her mentor.

Pennock stated that he and the other co-leads were happy to have been referred by the different lawyers representing plaintiffs and subsequently approved by the judge following all of the balances and checks Pratter came up with.

“Now we can get back to action in the case,” he said.

If you or your loved ones, used Ozempic and suffered Stomach Paralysis. You are eligible to sue Ozempic and File for compensation. Click here and fill the form on the next page to apply for free case evaluation. The Justice Now is one of the best when it comes to winning the most number of Ozempic lawsuits in the USA.

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