Bartlit Beck is celebrated among peers for forging a template of what many aspire to. One peer declares, “They set the standard for litigation boutiques in the US. Most people setting up litigation shops owe at least some debt to Bartlit Beck, whether they know it or not.” Ironically, the runaway success that the firm has experienced with its business model has caused it to outgrow its “boutique” status; the firm now has over 40 partners practicing in its offices in Chicago and Denver. “Yes, they’re like a boutique on steroids now,” sums up one peer. Clients are equally impressed. One commends the firm’s “outstanding trial prep and presentation of evidence and arguments,” while another cheers individual counsel at the firm as “incredibly responsive, practical and solution oriented.”
Few would argue that the firm’s most venerated figure remains Chicago trial icon Phil Beck, who boasts a decades-long series of appearances as lead counsel on precedent-setting cases in a wide variety of forums to his credit. “Phil is still ‘the man,’” confirms one peer, elaborating, “but the firm has done great in alleviating the ‘what’s after Phil Beck?’ question. They have groomed powerhouse people from top to bottom.” Rebecca Bacon, another frequent mention who enjoys her sixth consecutive appearance as one of Benchmark’s Top 250 Women in Litigation, was retained by FedEx Ground to serve as lead trial counsel in an action in the Western District of Pennsylvania brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC brought its action on behalf of over 300 hearing-impaired package handlers from across the country. They alleged that FedEx Ground violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to provide needed accommodations, such as American Sign Language interpretation and closed-captioned videos, to both deaf package handlers and deaf applicants for the package handler position. In addition to monetary relief, the EEOC sought a broad, nationwide injunction that would have significant impacts on FedEx Ground’s operations. Carefully crafted strategy led to the matter being settled favorably in May 2020 before any depositions were taken. Bacon also represents USG, a drywall manufacturer, and its former distribution company against Sherman Act and state price fixing claims related to its drywall business. The plaintiffs allege that the defendants violated Section 1 of the Sherman Act by conspiring to fix, raise, maintain, and stabilize prices for gypsum drywall. The case settled favorably in April 2021. Jeffrey Hall provided lead counsel for several investment funds in fraud actions in Circuit Court in Chicago arising from pharmaceutical giant AbbVie’s failed $50 billion acquisition of Shire in 2014. The fund clients, who invested in Shire and suffered substantial losses after AbbVie aborted its merger, filed this action in Cook County in 2016. Summary judgment briefing is ongoing. Sean Gallagher is lead trial counsel for Pratt & Whitney in environmental tort cases involving more than $1 billion in alleged property damage and personal injury claims arising out of the declaration of a “cancer cluster” by the Florida Department of Health in a neighborhood near Pratt & Whitney’s West Palm Beach facility. Over 20 individuals who claim to have cancer as a result of environmental exposures brought personal injury claims, alleging water and soil contamination with radionuclides and other contaminants. Several hundred property owners sued individually and on behalf of a putative class of many thousands of plaintiffs. The first of these cases is otherwise set for trial in January 2022.
The firm’s intellectual property prowess has been increasingly on display, and peers are taking notice, as one declares, “Bartlit Beck are doing more patent litigation! We have a great deal of respect for their IP people.” Scott McBride is lead trial counsel for Bayer in Hatch-Waxman litigation against three generic drug makers in a case relating to Bayer’s soluble guanylate cyclase stimulator, riociguat, a drug used to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension, and chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension, and marketed as Adempas. The case settled favorably after two days of trial in December 2020. In the product liability space, Kaspar Stoffelmayr serves as lead and coordinating counsel and trial counsel for Walgreens in nationwide litigation relating to the distribution and sale of prescription opioids, including a federal MDL in the Northern District of Ohio, related state court cases, and appellate proceedings. The litigation currently involves over 2,400 cases against Walgreens in which states, cities, counties, Indian tribes, and private parties assert claims against manufacturers, distributors, and retailers of prescription opioids. Stoffelmayr also acts as national counsel and lead trial counsel for Bayer in product liability litigation, including approximately 20,000 lawsuits and claims alleging that the oral contraceptives YAZ and Yasmin (and related products) carry an excessive risk of blood clots and other injuries. Various cases are currently at all stages of litigation, from early motion practice to discovery to trial-ready.
In the Denver office, Sean Grimsley is lead counsel for Arconic and its US subsidiary AAP in a case currently pending in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, in which survivors and the estates of victims of the Grenfell Tower fire have brought product liability and wrongful death claims against various US companies regarding products used in or on the Grenfell Tower. Specifically, plaintiffs allege that the Reynobond PE cladding sold by Arconic’s French subsidiary for installation on the Grenfell Tower was defective and that the clients should be held strictly liable under Pennsylvania law for any damage caused by the cladding. Grimsley has filed various motions to dismiss, including for failure to state a claim and forum non conveniens. Grimsley also serves as national counsel for ConocoPhillips in a series of cases brought by states and municipalities across the US seeking damages and injunctive relief related to climate change from the sale and marketing of petroleum products.