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Product Liability Star Lori Cohen on Last-Minute Trials, Against-the-Odds Wins and Being Called ‘Honey’

Greenberg Traurig partner Lori Cohen has racked up one of the most winning courtroom records around, going 57-1 before juries. Chair of the firm’s pharmaceutical, medical device and health care litigation practice, she typically handles high-stakes product liability suits, sometimes with only weeks to prepare for trial.

She spoke with The Litigation Daily about her practice--the unique challenges of being a woman litigator, how to counter the emotional pull of sympathetic plaintiffs, how she’s built a close-knit team that’s essential to her success.

The interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Litigation Daily: Are there one or two cases that stand out as particularly memorable?

Lori Cohen: It’s really hard to pick one or two cases that are the most memorable, though it always seems to be the more recent ones that stick out in your mind.

The most recent one we had ran from Thanksgiving of 2015 to Groundhog Day--Feb. 2, 2016. That was a pelvic mesh case. Most of cases in the ‘mesh litigation’ that have gone to trial have been big plaintiffs verdicts, big losses to the defense.

This was first mesh trial where there was more than one corporate defendant--different companies, different mesh products involved, but we had to work together collaboratively on behalf of the defense.

It was in Missouri state court, which can be a complex jurisdiction. There were very good plaintiffs attorneys on the other side. And we won it, which many said was against all odds. I thought it was a great team win.

Shook Hardy represented the co-defendant Boston Scientific. We had [C.R.] Bard. A lot of times when you have two companies, two big law firms involved, and it’s hard for you all to get on the same page. Here, we literally became one team.

What about your 2013 win in Anderson v. Medtronic in Seattle, involving the company’s Laser-Shield II?

It was a tough case. Our opponent was a really nice plaintiff who had gone in for a 10-minute outpatient procedure, a low-risk lasering off some nodules on her vocal cords, just to make her sound less hoarse and able to sing better.

It turned into a totally catastrophic airway fire. Literally, her airway caught on fire. She developed what’s called a blowtorch injury and ended up on a ventilator. So there were very, very severe injuries in that case, a huge life care plan and significant damages sought.

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