Litigators of the Week

The American Lawyer recognizes Morrison & Foerster’s litigation prowess with back-to-back Litigators of the Week wins

For two consecutive weeks in March, The American Lawyer recognized Morrison & Foerster’s lawyers as its Litigators of the Week. These back-to-back wins reflect our success at simultaneously developing litigation strategies that succeed both at trial and on appeal.

Changing the Future of U.S. Health Care

On March 27, The American Lawyer tapped San Francisco partner Rachel Krevans and New York partner Grant Esposito as its Litigators of the Week for their roles in securing a win for Sandoz, a unit of Novartis, that will likely influence the future of health care in the United States.

In a “first-of-its-kind case,” a federal district court issued a decision on March 19 that interpreted the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act (BPCIA) that became law under the Affordable Care Act. In October 2014, Amgen filed a suit seeking to delay Sandoz’s launch of the biosimilar filgrastim drug Zarxio®, which can help fight infections in cancer patients.

Rachel Krevans Esposito, Grant J.

Biosimilars are less-expensive copies of brand name biologics that have been found equally safe and effective.

The case was the first to decide two key issues concerning how patent disputes between a biosimilar applicant and reference product sponsor are resolved under the BPCIA.

The court handed down a significant victory for MoFo’s client, fully adopting Sandoz’s interpretation of the BPCIA. At the same time, the court denied Amgen’s motions urging a contrary interpretation and seeking a preliminary injunction.

As a result of the ruling, Sandoz is one step closer to launching the first biosimilar product in the United States, which the FDA approved in early March.

The American Lawyer notes that the MoFo “team, including partner Erik Olson, poured enormous effort into preparing for both this month’s injunction hearing and the inevitable appeal, bringing in appellate specialist Deanne Maynard to advise.”

“Our strategy is one that is designed to win at the trial court and the appellate level,” Ms. Krevans, a previous Litigator of the Week honoree (August 16, 2013), told The American Lawyer.

Appellate Victory for Businesses in Proposition 65 Litigation

On March 20, The American Lawyer recognized MoFo’s ability to successfully develop and execute a strategy that wins at trial and on appeal when it recognized San Francisco partner Michèle Corash as its Litigator of the Week. Ms. Corash helped orchestrate a team — including trial litigators Linda Shostak (a recent inductee into the American College of Trial Lawyers) and James Schurz, and former appellate judge Miriam Vogel — that defeated a major Proposition 65 lawsuit seeking cancer and birth defect warning labels for 100 percent fruit juices, packaged fruits, and baby foods that contain trace levels of lead.

On March 17, California’s First District Court of Appeal issued a unanimous decision that affirmed a trial court ruling won by the MoFo litigation team for 16 food manufacturers — including such iconic brands as Beech-Nut, Del Monte, Dole, Gerber, Hain-Celestial, J.M. Smucker, Seneca, and Welch’s — in a closely watched Prop 65 lawsuit.

Prop 65, approved by California voters in 1986, requires businesses to warn consumers to possible exposure to any one of 800 chemicals, regardless of the amount of actual risk or exposure.

The case involved several legal questions of first impression and many fact patterns typical in Prop 65 litigation. As a result, the Court of Appeal’s ruling will have a broad impact on other Prop 65 cases, particularly those involving foods and consumer products.

“It was very gratifying to me that it was a unanimous decision,” said Ms. Corash. “The opinion was clear, and it should have impact.”

In addition to Ms. Corash, Ms. Shostak, and Mr. Schurz, the MoFo team included Robert Falk, Michael Steel, William Tarantino, Robin Stafford, Alejandro Bras, and Kevin Coles.

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