“‘Rapid-Fire Five-Dimensional Chess’”: Partner Aelish Baig Discusses Recent “Landmark Victory” with Law360
Earlier this year, the Honorable Charles R. Breyer of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California ruled that Walgreens had “substantially contributed” to the opioid epidemic in San Francisco and created a “public nuisance” by failing to perform adequate due diligence to prevent opioids from being diverted and ensuring prescriptions were medically legitimate. When the trial began, Walgreens was not the only defendant. The Teva and Allergan family of defendants reached a combined $58 million settlement with San Francisco on the eve of the trial’s closing arguments.
San Francisco partner Aelish Marie Baig led Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP’s trial team who, together with co-trial counsel from Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, Levin Papantonio, and Simmons Hanly Conroy, represented the People of the State of California by and through San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu. Baig sat down with Law360 to share the challenges of litigating the nationally watched trial.
“‘It felt like rapid-fire five-dimensional chess,’” Baig told Law360.
The team of attorneys and staff from the City Attorney’s office and four different law firms spent months working together to prepare for a jury trial. Walgreens unexpectedly waived the right to a jury trial in January 2022, causing the team to shift strategies for a bench trial. The new bench trial format meant shorter time constraints for the presentation of the case.
“‘One of the most challenging aspects of opioid litigation is just the sheer enormity of it,’” Baig said.
To effectively and concisely tell the story of the opioid epidemic in San Francisco, civil servants from the Public Health Department, Recreation and Parks Department, Department of Public Works, San Francisco Fire Department, and San Francisco Public Library testified about the impact of the crisis.
Judge Breyer’s 112-page decision cited much of the evidence from city employees’ testimony. Litigation regarding the amount Walgreens must pay to abate the opioid epidemic it fueled in San Francisco is ongoing.
Aelish Marie Baig and Paul J. Geller, managing partner of the Firm’s Boca Raton office, are leaders in nationwide multi-district litigations prosecuting marketers, consulting firms, pharmacies, and distributors, among others, for their roles in facilitating the opioid epidemic. Geller serves on the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee of In re National Prescription Opiate Litigation. Geller has been a key negotiator in two recent national settlements — a $26 billion settlement with distributors AmerisourceBergen Corp., Cardinal Health Inc., and McKesson Corp. and manufacturer Johnson & Johnson; and a $4 billion settlement with manufacturer Teva.
The full Law360 article is available here: https://www.law360.com/pulse/articles/1526046/.
In addition to Aelish Baig, Robbins Geller attorneys X. Jay Alvarez, Dory P. Antullis, Lea Malani Bays, Mark J. Dearman, Thomas E. Egler, Paul J. Geller, Nicolle Brito, Hadiyah K. Deshmukh, and Taeva Shefler litigated the trial in San Francisco.
About Robbins Geller
Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP is one of the world’s leading complex litigation firms, representing plaintiffs in securities fraud, shareholder derivative, antitrust, corporate takeover, and consumer fraud and privacy cases. With 200 lawyers in 9 offices, Robbins Geller is one of the world’s largest plaintiffs’ firms, and the Firm’s attorneys have obtained many of the largest securities, antitrust, and consumer class action recoveries in history.
The Firm is ranked #1 on the 2021 ISS Securities Class Action Services Top 50 Report for recovering nearly $2 billion for investors last year alone – more than triple the amount recovered by any other plaintiffs’ firm. The Firm secured the largest-ever securities fraud class action settlement — $7.2 billion — in In re Enron Corp. Securities Litigation.
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City & County of San Francisco, CA v. Purdue Pharma L.P., No. 18-cv-07591-CRB (N.D. Cal.).
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