Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Boston mass tort plaintiffs' lawyer Alex MacDonald has left Robinson & Cole to join Rothweiler Eisenberg. MacDonald's mass torts group at Robinson & Cole was a rare example of a significant mass tort plaintiffs' practice within a large corporate firm. (Robins Kaplan in Minnesota is the other prominent example.) Plaintiffs' practices in large defense-oriented firms have certain advantages -- resources, infrastructure, lawyers with varied experience -- but inevitably run into conflicts of interest and sometimes culture clashes as well. The question is whether the benefits outweigh the costs. Apparently, MacDonald found that the big-firm association no longer made sense for his practice.
Here's a clip from a Connecticut Law Tribune article -- High-End Plaintiffs Cases an Uneasy Fit at Defense Firms:
In the end, multimillion-dollar contingency fee recoveries couldn't keep Hartford, Conn.-based Robinson & Cole and the chairman and founder of its nationally prominent mass tort group together under the same roof.
Like for other high-end plaintiff practices operating within large defense-oriented law firms, client conflicts eventually convinced Alex H. MacDonald that greener pastures lay elsewhere, he said.
Recently, he took the reputation he gained from brokering a record-breaking fen-phen settlement and joined forces with two high-profile Philadelphia trial lawyers to form MacDonald Rothweiler Eisenberg.
The message to other defense firms: Dabbling in plaintiffs work can be lucrative, but the more lucrative it gets, the more inevitable an eventual breakup becomes.
According to the article, Robinson & Cole's longstanding representation of Pfizer had precluded MacDonald's group from taking on Rezulin cases (because Pfizer was on the verge of acquiring Warner-Lambert) or Vioxx cases (because Pfizer produced similar drugs Celebrex and Bextra).
MacDonald made his name in the fen-phen litigation, in which he represented Mary Linnen and a host of other PPH claimants, and became a central figure on the plaintiffs' side. He was profiled in Alicia Mundy's book, Dispensing with the Truth (St. Martin's Press 2001).