Weitz & Luxenberg was recently recognized by Law.com as one of the firms with the most women appointed to multidistrict litigation (MDL) leadership positions in the past two years, an achievement that underscores the firm’s commitment to diversity and gender equality.
According to the article, W&L Practice Group Co-Chair Ellen Relkin has received the most MDL leadership appointments of any woman in the past two years, holding top positions in four MDLs. Her most recent appointment was to the Executive Committee in the litigation against opioid drug makers and distributors, a major MDL that involves more than 700 lawsuits.
Other high-profile MDL positions she was appointed to over the past two years include serving as Co-Lead Counsel for cases involving AstraZeneca’s Farxiga diabetes medication in the Southern District of New York, serving on the Executive Committee for the litigation over the diabetes medication Invokana in the District of New Jersey and sitting on the Executive Committee and serving as State Liaison for the MDL involving the Stryker LFIT V 40 Femoral Head Products Liability Litigation in the District of Massachusetts. She has also helped thousands of patients harmed by other defective hip implants, serving as the Co-Lead Counsel in the MDL against DePuy Orthopedics in the Northern District of Ohio over its recalled ASR metal-on-metal hip.
In a related article about diversity in MDLs, the National Law Journal found that while women held far less than half of all top posts last year, strides have been made recently. In 2017, nearly 30 percent of leadership positions were filled by women as compared to 2011-2016, when women represented just 17 percent of appointments.
As quoted in the National Law Journal story, Ms. Relkin said, “I think there is certainly a greater cognizance among the bench and bar of the need for diversity. Firms are realizing they need more women now.”
Weitz & Luxenberg is helping to lead the way. Working alongside Ms. Relkin, W&L Associate Attorney Danielle Gold was appointed to serve as Plaintiffs’ Liaison Counsel in the Farxiga MDL, and W&L Environmental Group Chair Robin Greenwald has held several leadership positions in high-profile MDLs. She served on the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee (PSC) in the case against BP over its catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, as Lead Counsel in the case against more than 50 petroleum companies for polluting groundwater with the gasoline additive MTBE (methyl tertiary butyl ether) and is currently Co-Lead Counsel in in the MDL against Monsanto over its Roundup herbicide.
Ms. Greenwald also serves on the PSC for the Volkswagen Defeat Device MDL, is on the Executive Committee for the California JCCP relating to the Southern California Gas storage well blowout in Los Angeles, and is Co-Lead Counsel in two consolidated actions in New York, one involving contamination of groundwater in Hoosick Falls, New York, with PFOA, and the other a data breach consolidated action in Rochester, New York against Excellus, a Blue Cross, Blue Shield affiliate.
The firm has actively worked to encourage diversity beyond just its members being appointed to leadership. In 2015, W&L attorney Paul J. Pennock, as Co-Lead Counsel of the MDL involving power morcellators, helped create the first Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee with a majority of women members.
Ms. Relkin noted “Weitz & Luxenberg is a great champion of diversity and equality and it is reflected in these appointments and the success of its female attorneys at all levels in the legal field.”