December 20, 2016
Weil Litigation partner Diane Sullivan has been named an MVP for Trials by Law360 in recognition of her significant accomplishments in 2016, including securing a multi-hundred million dollar defense verdict for Philip Morris USA, among other achievements.
In the Philip Morris case, the plaintiffs sought a comprehensive medical monitoring program that would have included yearly scans using low-dose computed tomography, or LDCT. The case drew considerable attention because it was both a class action jury trial and a relatively novel claim incorporating a recently developed technology. An expert witness for the plaintiffs had told the jury that whatever the issues, LDCT represented a vast improvement over X-rays with respect to survival rates.
Ms. Sullivan, however, was ultimately successful in persuading the jury to adopt her argument that smokers had willingly engaged in dangerous behavior and that the company was not responsible for providing additional screening. Her argument centered around the fact that there was no safer alternative to the products Philip Morris sold because the market had rejected an alternative low-tar product that the company promoted heavily in the 1980s, and that therefore the plaintiffs openly had chosen the more dangerous product. Ms. Sullivan credited her team for meeting the challenge in the Philip Morris victory, noting that “We have a great team here that’s used to parachuting in. … Usually we have a confined time to learn the case and figure out the compelling story for a jury and prepare our side of the case.”