Viewpoint: Inside Robbins Geller’s Consumer Practice With Partner Dory Antullis

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May 20, 2024

Our partner Dory P. Antullis has been at the forefront of high-impact consumer protection litigation across the United States. She played a key role in the historic opioid crisis litigation that secured more than $50 billion of relief for communities across the nation and has litigated complex cases across multiple issue areas, from class action privacy cases to RICO actions. 

She recently sat down with our team to share insights about her consumer protection practice, lessons learned from litigating numerous cases involving fraud and abuse in the pharmaceutical industry, and the importance of integrity and civility in resolving complex cases. 

A major focus of your practice has been litigating consumer protection cases involving the pharma industry. Tell us about the most challenging or high-impact cases you’ve litigated involving pharma in the last 2-3 years.  

I’ve worked on quite a few challenging pharma-industry cases over the past few years – the Opioids and related McKinsey multidistrict litigations (“MDLs”), the Allergan Biocell Textured Breast Implants MDL, the Zantac MDL, and the antitrust cases involving the price of insulin, to name a few.  

The most “high-impact” has to be the Opioids MDL, which is some of the most important litigation I think this nation has ever seen. It covers thousands of cases brought by governmental entities, Native American tribes, third-party payors, hospitals and school districts, and others against manufacturers, distributors, pharmacies, and pharmacy benefit managers for their alleged roles in causing the nationwide opioid epidemic.  

After years of hard-fought litigation, and working 24/7 – 365 days a year, we’ve been able to secure billions of dollars to help people who have opioid use disorder and to address the many ripple-effect-harms that were caused by the inordinate quantities of opioids flooding into American communities. We’ve also secured life-saving naloxone (an emergency medicine to treat narcotic overdose) and changed the way these companies practice – to help prevent an epidemic like this from happening again. I am especially proud to have been a member of the trial team that successfully tried a case against Walgreens, Allergan, Teva, and Anda on behalf of the City and County of San Francisco.  

What special challenges did those or other cases present? 

We often find ourselves on the developing edge of the law because we tend to take on the cases that are too complex for smaller plaintiffs’ firms to manage. The governmental entity cases in the Opioids MDL are an interesting example. We have been faced with some tough questions there: Who is responsible when many actors working together harmed an entire community, and how can cities and counties seek to abate a problem that’s so far-reaching? At least one answer to those questions turned out to be public nuisance law.  

Although it isn’t new, Robbins Geller and our colleagues in the Opioids MDL applied public nuisance law in a way that hadn’t been seen before, even though centuries of common law gave public entities the power to abate health crises like this. In doing so, we paved a path for aggregate tort litigation that sits somewhere between class actions and mass torts. Settling those cases presented special challenges too! I won’t get into details here, but just imagine how complex it is to negotiate multi-billion dollar deals with multiple pharma companies, attorneys general, and the leading plaintiff and defense lawyers in the country, and then work with thousands of cities and counties as they evaluate whether to join the settlement.  

I learned so much working with the best lawyers in the business, especially founding partner Paul Geller, who is an incredibly effective negotiator.  

Morningstar reports that 18 large-cap pharma/biotech companies spent $4 billion annually in recent years on litigation defense, which is massive. How do these companies litigate, and what kinds of resources do they bring to bear when challenged?  

In the pharma space, we’ve gone up against manufacturers, distributors, pharmacies, and pharmacy benefit managers. All of them are quite aggressive, and they can and do spend a ton of money on litigation defense. It’s critical to level the playing field for consumers, and that’s where we come in. There are few, if any, firms like Robbins Geller – a big plaintiffs’ firm that has the financial resources, the knowledge and expertise, the stamina, and the human resources necessary to go toe-to-toe with these big defense firms for as long as it takes.  

Honestly, if companies spent more time remedying the harm they caused and less time fighting accountability, then they would probably spend less than $4 billion annually.  

There’s an upward trend in consumer privacy and data breaches. In addition to financial remedies, what preventative measures can litigation achieve to slow or reverse that trend? 

Unfortunately, many companies are easy targets for thieves because they simply don’t have sufficient data security. Cybercriminals are sophisticated; they continue to evolve and to learn new ways to gain access to consumers’ personal data. If companies that consumers entrust with that data don’t keep up with industry best practices, then it could be just a matter of time before a breach happens.  

More egregiously, a lot of what we see are old-school intrusions that could have easily been prevented and repeat breaches because companies haven’t learned their lesson. In the 21st century, if a company is collecting personal identifying information, personal health information, biometric data, or genetic data, then it must, as the law generally requires, invest in adequate security protocols. Litigation is a driver compelling companies to do so.  

Sometimes it’s the companies themselves that are violating consumers’ privacy. They trade in consumers’ personal information – biometric data, user habits, shopping preferences, friends and family groups, personal beliefs, and more. And they don’t always have permission to do so. Litigation, in combination with toothy legislation, is a key to forcing these companies to respect consumers’ privacy. 

Which cases stand out as personally meaningful to you? Why? 

Is it cliché to say that most of my cases are personally meaningful? I guess so, but it’s true. My cases are about helping real people, and our plaintiffs inspire me every day. They’re often “regular” people who want to make a difference and do what’s right – not just for themselves, but for everyone who was hurt.  

I’ve met so many strong women in the Allergan Breast Implants MDL, for example, many of whom have had cancer and received implants as part of their reconstructive surgery; they’ve been through hell already, and still, here they are standing up against a company that harmed them and so many like them.  

And in the massive data breach case against Yahoo!, one of our clients was absolutely an amazing class representative. He cared, he showed up in spite of his personal fear and discomfort, and he was a very vocal and effective advocate for himself and others whose private information had been stolen.  

In a groundwater pollution case against Wolverine Worldwide and 3M, I worked with passionate Michiganders whose family homes had been polluted for years with substances that are known to cause serious diseases and health issues, and together we secured an excellent result for their community.  

Our plaintiffs and class members are the reason I sacrifice my nights, weekends, holidays, and birthdays, and when I’m able to bring them some small peace of mind, it’s 100% worth it.  

What role does your relationship with opposing counsel play in securing favorable outcomes? How do you navigate and manage those relationships? 

I strive to be decent for decency’s sake, but certainly cases run much smoother when lawyers on all sides treat each other with respect. I actually started my career in the defense world, so I appreciate that there are many smart, committed defense lawyers who are doing excellent work for their clients. I approach them as people first – always – and I find that I get a lot further if opposing counsel trust me to act with integrity. It’s helpful when I’m negotiating discovery disputes and case management issues, for example, but it’s especially important that they trust me when we start talking about settlement. It’s very hard (and painful) to negotiate a meaningful resolution if the lawyers don’t have a functional relationship intact.  

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 10 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. 

Over the last decade, our Firm has been ranked #1 on the ISS Securities Class Action Services law firm rankings for six out of the last ten years for securing the most monetary relief for investors. In the last four years, Robbins Geller recovered $6.6 billion for investors in securities-related class action cases – over $2.2 billion more than any other law firm during that time. The Firm secured the largest-ever securities fraud class action settlement – $7.2 billion – in In re Enron Corp. Securities Litigation. 

For media inquiries, please contact media@rgrdlaw.com or call (619) 338-3821.


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