A team of Norton Rose Fulbright pharma and medical-device litigators recently presented to the Life Sciences and Healthcare Spring Webinar Series on “Pharma Delivers: Now What?” Pharmaceutical companies delivered pandemic-ending vaccines, and are rewarded with an increasingly positive public reputation. The presenters forecasted how this public-opinion bump might impact future litigation, and more broadly discussed litigation trends reflected in the case law as well as the Norton Rose Fulbright Sixteenth Annual Litigation Trends Survey.

Partners D’Lesli Davis and Jan Dodd spoke on trends in pharmaceutical and medical-device litigation, respectively. Davis presented the current state of economic loss theory, the troubling trend of “no motion” practice in multi-district litigation, and the ever-present pressure from courts toward early settlement. Dodd predicted a “tsunami” in trial courts as the easing of pandemic restrictions allow courts, counsel, and parties to resume work on pending litigation, and she shared both the “good news” on increased enforcement of expert witness qualifications and the “bad news” on courts’ interpretation of federal preemption.

Senior Associate Allison Lange Garrison presented on the PREP Act, a federal statute which grants broad immunity to those engaged in the fight against COVID-19, and she analyzed the first wave of decisions from federal courts which have interpreted the PREP Act surprisingly narrowly to preclude healthcare facilities from asserting the immunity protections promised in the statute. Finally, Associate Alicia Grant predicted that virtual court appearances will survive the end of the pandemic, and she shared insights from the bench and from counsel on the pros and cons of jury trial by Zoom.