Sheila L. Birnbaum is co-chair of Dechert’s product liability and mass torts practice and focuses on complex product liability, mass torts and insurance litigation. She is one of the country’s preeminent product liability defense lawyers, having served as national counsel or lead defense counsel for numerous Fortune 500 companies in some of the largest and most complex tort cases in the United States. She has also argued many influential appeals in appellate courts across the United States, including the U.S. Supreme Court.
Ms. Birnbaum is national co-counsel for Purdue Pharma in over 1,000 federal and state lawsuits brought by state attorneys general, cities, municipalities, hospitals, third-party payers and others arising out of the marketing of opioid medications. She was co-lead counsel for Pfizer in over 600 birth defects cases in a multidistrict litigation (MDL) pending in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, alleging that the use of Zoloft during pregnancy caused birth defects. The team won a key Daubert ruling striking Plaintiffs’ experts and dismissing the cases on summary judgment, which was affirmed by the Third Circuit. She also served as co-national counsel for Pfizer in defending claims by thousands of Plaintiffs alleging Pfizer’s statin medication, Lipitor, caused them to develop type 2 diabetes. Thousands of cases were dismissed on summary judgment, after the MDL judge in South Carolina struck Plaintiffs’ experts in a Daubert ruling that was affirmed by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Ms. Birnbaum is also representing Saint Gobain Performance Plastics in medical monitoring class actions and personal injury cases arising out of ground water containing perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). She was a lead national counsel for Wyeth in their hormone therapy litigation in both federal and state court and led the company’s strategy in negotiating thousands of settlements to end the litigation.