New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania (inactive)
Elected member: American Law Institute
Fellow, American Bar Foundation
Memberships: American Bar Association, New York State Bar Association, and the Defense Research Institute.
Martindale-Hubbell av rated
Super Lawyer (PA 2007; NY 2009 – 2012)
For 27 years, my practice has focused on the defense of products liability suits, with an emphasis on the scientific and medico-legal issues that often dominate such cases. I have tried over 40 cases, and over 12 Daubert hearings. I have briefed and argued appeals in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Oregon, and New York, as well as in the U.S. Court of Appeals. My trials, hearings, and appeals have been in cases involving prescription and over-the-counter medications, medical devices, and exposures to toxic substances from products and environmental sources. I teach a course in statistics in the law, at the Columbia Law School.
For the last 15 years, I have been involved in a diverse pharmaceutical products liability practice. Some of the more prominent cases in which I have been involved include hormone therapy, PPA, Rezulin and other oral anti-diabetic medications, anti-depressants, and silicone gel.
Hormone Therapy Litigation
For several years, I worked on the preparation and defense of Pfizer’s hormone therapy cases, in which women have claimed that they have suffered breast and ovarian cancers, strokes, heart attacks, emboli, and other adverse events after their use of postmenopausal estrogen and progestin medications. I was designated as trial counsel for what was to be Pfizer’s first case set for trial, in Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, in 2007 — Coleman v. Wyeth et al. After I argued the motion for summary judgment based upon the statute of limitations, the trial court entered judgment on the eve of trial. Coleman v. Wyeth Pharms., Inc., 2007 Phila. Ct. Com. Pl. LEXIS 262, at *32 (Pa. Com. Pl. Sep. 24, 2007). After I left McCarter & English, other lawyers took over the case. Coleman v. Wyeth Pharms., Inc., 2010 Pa. Super. 158, 2010 Pa. Super. LEXIS 2629 (Aug. 30, 2010) (reversing judgment entered below).
Phenylpropanolamine (PPA) Litigation
In the fall of 2003, Novartis found itself, without trial counsel, facing its first New Jersey trial in which a plaintiff claimed that her catastrophic stroke was caused by use of Tavist-D (PPA) medication. Along with Gita Rothschild, I formed a trial team that stepped into the breach and successfully defended the company in a jury trial in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Kronfeld v. Novartis Consumer Healthcare, Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Div., Middlesex Cty., L-003034-02 MT (no cause of action, Jan. 16, 2004) (trial counsel) (unanimous jury verdict in phenylpropanolamine case on design defect and failure to warn claims), aff’d App. Div. (Sept. 2005). See “Defenders Rack Up Wins in Nine High-Stakes Cases,” The National Law Journal (March 30, 2005).
In March 2000, Pfizer withdrew Rezulin, an oral anti-diabetic medication, from the market, after reports of severe liver toxicity. Pfizer was targeted with lawsuits around the country, but especially in New Jersey, where the manufacturer, Warner-Lambert, had been located before Pfizer’s acquisition. I served on several trial teams for these New Jersey cases.
Silicone Gel Breast Implant Litigation
In this nationwide litigation, I served as national trial counsel for Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, including its representation before the court-appointed National Science Panel of experts, in the breast implant Multi-District Litigation. In November 1998, that Panel delivered its findings that there was no reliable evidence that silicone caused autoimmune diseases. See, e.g., http://earth.fjc.gov/BREIMLIT/SCIENCE/diamond.rtf (trial testimony of court-appointed expert immunologist, Dr. Betty Diamond, and my cross examination)
Within the role of national trial counsel, I was responsible for managing expert witnesses, preparing cross-examinations of adverse expert witnesses, as well as planning, briefing, coordinating, and conducting Daubert challenges to plaintiffs’ expert witnesses in the breast implant litigation, throughout the country. We challenged a wide variety of expert witnesses, including scientists and physicians, testifying on behalf of the claimants, on immunology, epidemiology, toxicology, polymer and analytic chemistry, rheumatology, neuropsychology, and other areas of clinical medicine. I was also responsible for assisting public relations efforts on medico-legal issues, as well as briefing congressional leaders and their staffs about the scientific issues. I tried cases for Bristol-Myers Squibb around the country.
See, e.g., Hall v. Baxter Healthcare Corp., 947 F. Supp. 1387 (D. Or. 1996)(representing BMS before state and federal judges, who sat with a panel of appointed expert advisors, in Daubert hearings); In re Breast Implant Cases, 942 F. Supp. 958 (E. & S.D.N.Y. 1996) (representing BMS before state and federal judges in Daubert hearings and summary judgment motions); In re Breast Implant Litigation, 11 F. Supp. 2d 1217 (D. Colo. 1998) (argued Daubert and summary judgment motions for BMS); Allison v. McGhan, No. 93-CV-2051-RLV, (N.D. Ga. 1998) (argued on behalf of BMS), aff’d, 184 F.3d 1300 (11th Cir. 1999); Grant v. Bristol Myers Squibb Co., 97 F.Supp. 2d 986 (D. Ariz. 2000) (argued on behalf of BMS).
Burch v Surgitec, Inc., New Mexico, County of Bernalillo (2d Judicial District) CV-92-10922 (1998) (Daubert hearing; argued on behalf of BMS)
Toledo v. Medical Engineering Corp., 50 Pa. D. & C.4th 129 (Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas 2000) (Frye hearing; argued)
Benigno v. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., New York Supreme Court – Trial Part 39, Index No. 115431/96 (June 1998)(trial counsel)
Brusca v. The Cooper Companies, N.Y. Supreme – Trial Division Part 20, Index No. 128115/93 (1997) (Frye hearing; lead counsel)
Shaw v Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., Multnomah County, Oregon, No. 9312-08347 (March 1996) (trial counsel for punitive damages phase; argued appeal)
Welding Fume Litigation
For over 8 years, I have represented a group of welding manufacturers that are targeted by claims that constituents of welding fume cause brain damage. My representation involves the preparation and deployment of epidemiologic evidence in defense of these claims, in state and federal courts around the country.
For over two decades, I have represented sand suppliers in trials and appeals in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, and Texas. I served as liaison counsel for the sand suppliers in the coordinated Pennsylvania silica litigation. These cases typically involve sophisticated-employer defenses, as well as controversial medical causation issues.
Rickicki v. Borden Chemical, New York Supreme Court, County of Cattaraugus, (Jan. 11, 2007) (granting summary judgment and dismissing all claims on grounds of sophisticated-user doctrine), rev’d, 60 A.D.3d 1276, 876 N.Y.S.2d 791 (2009)
Tompkins v. U.S. Silica Co., Jefferson County, Texas; Trial Cause E-162, 276 (2001) (trial counsel), aff’d 92 S.W.3d 605 (2002), rev’d and remanded, U.S. Silica Co. v. Tompkins, 156 S.W.3d 578 (2005)
Tunstall v Exolon Corp., U.S. District Court Civil Action No. 92-3770 (E.D.Pa. 1993), 1993 U.S.Dist. LEXIS 2921
Phillips v. A.P. Green Refractories Co., 428 Pa. Super. 167, 630 A.2d, 874 (1993) (trial counsel), aff’d, 542 Pa. 124, 665 A.2d 1167 (1995) (gaining recognition for sophisticated user defenses in silica cases in Pennsylvania)
Environmental Medical Monitoring Torts
Harman v. Nick Lipari, et al., Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Gloucester County, Docket No. GLO-L-1375-95, Order of November 3, 2000 (supervising and preparing challenges to reliability of plaintiffs’ expert witnesses, and obtaining Order, which barred plaintiffs’ expert witness, in this class action for medical monitoring, based upon claimed environmental cancer risks)
From 1984 on, I have tried over two dozen asbestos products cases, and I have written and argued the appeals in many more. These cases have involved claims of cancer causation for several organ sites, state of the art defenses, sophisticated employer defenses, among other issues. I have instructed, guided, and supervised lawyers in many hundreds of asbestos cases, in several states. For one client, I shouldered primary responsibility for its representation before the Joint Panel on Multidistrict Litigation and the transferee MDL 875 court. I was also responsible for assisting public relations efforts on medico-legal issues, as well as selecting and preparing expert witnesses to present testimony to congressional committees and their staffs about medical issues in connection with proposed remedial legislation. The cases noted below are a sample of my experience in this litigation.
Wilson v. Flintkote, 2002 Pa. Super. 294; 807 A.2d 922 (2002)(upholding summary judgment in mesothelioma case; rejecting challenge to frequency, proximity, and regularity requirement in mesothelioma case)
In re Collins, 233 F.3d 809 (3d Cir. 2000)(upholding MDL practice of refusing to remand punitive damage claims with cases to transferor courts), cert. denied sub nom. Collins v. MacMillan Bloedel, Inc., 532 U.S. 1066 (2001)
DeClerico v. Bell Asbestos Mines, 137 Montg. Cty. L.R. Part II 277 (2000) (enforcement of settlements and agency issues)(argued)
Simmons v. Pacor, Inc., 543 Pa. 664, 674 A.2d 232 (1996) (eliminating claims of fear and increased risk of cancer in nonmalignant asbestos personal injury cases)
Rothermel v. Owens-Illinois, 542 Pa. 358 (1995)(apportionment of damages between defendants’ products and tobacco products)(argued)
Caterinicchio v. Pittsburgh Corning Corp., 127 N.J. 428, 605 A.2d 1092 (1992) (standards for reliability and sufficiency of epidemiologic evidence) (trial and appellate counsel)
Norman v. Johns-Manville Corp., 406 Pa. Super.103, 593 A.2d 890 (1991)(state-of-the-art defense and choice of law issues)
Urbasik v. Anchor Packing, 111 Dauphin County 230 (1991)(defense verdict on medical causation between chrysotile asbestos exposure and plaintiff’s mesothelioma)(trial counsel), aff’d 423 Pa. Super. 649 (1992), allocatur denied, 532 Pa. 665 (1992)
Schulz v. Celotex Corp., 942 F.2d 204 (3d Cir. 1991)
Ron Hill v. Carey Canada, Inc., Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division – Camden County, NO. L-051429-84 (July, 1990)(defense verdict on medical causation between chrysotile exposure and plaintiff’s mesothelioma)(trial counsel for Carey Canada)
Howell v. The Celotex Corp., 904 F.2d 3 (3d Cir. 1990)
O’Donnell v. Celotex Corp., PCCP July Term 1982, No. 1619; May 1989 (defense verdict in all-issue trial involving sophisticated employer and state-of-the-art defenses in case brought by naval shipyard worker with asbestosis) (trial counsel)
Wisniewski v. Johns-Manville Corp., 1986 WL 3858 (E.D.Pa. 1986), aff’d, 812 F.2d 81 (3d Cir. 1987) (excluding claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress and limiting availability of punitive damages in asbestos cases) (argued)
Ross v. Johns-Manville Corp., 766 F.2d 823 (3d Cir. 1985) (choice of law issues) (argued)
In re Estate of John Merriam, Court of Common Pleas, Montgomery County, PA, Orphan’s Court Division No. 94-1526 (trial counsel on competency issue arising from death-bed gifts)
TCI v. Dayco Products, 2001 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15838 (E.D.Pa. 2001) (barring economist’s expert witness opinion testimony under Daubert), aff’d (3d Cir. 2002)
Nathan A. Schachtman, Esq., PC
(January 2010 – present)
Lecturer in Law, Columbia Law School
(January 2010 – present)
Phillips Lytle LLP
Partner (2007 – December 2009)
McCarter & English LLP
Partner (1989 – 2007); Associate (1984-1988)
Bondurant, Miller, Hishon & Stephenson
Atlanta, Georgia; Associate (1983-1984)
Honorable H. Emory Widener, Jr.
Judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for Fourth Circuit,
Abingdon, Virginia; Law Clerk (1982-1983)
Rutgers University School of Law (J.D., magna cum laude 1982)
Articles Editor of Rutgers Law Journal (April 1981 – June 1982)
Dean’s List (1979-80; 1980-81; 1981-82);
Corpus Juris Secundum Award (1981); American Jurisprudence Awards in Equity and in Criminal Law
Teaching Assistant to Professor Steven Friedell (1981);
Research Assistant to Professor Paul H. Robinson (1980-81)
Rutgers College (A.B. 1975, Philosophy, Biological Sciences)
Honors and Activities: Research Assistant in Department of Pharmacology, in the University of Medicine and Dentristy of New Jersey (Piscataway, NJ) (role of tubulin in mutagenetic models), National Science Foundation Scholarship, Fencing Team
American Association for the Advancement of Science
Rutgers School of Law Alumni Association (Former Board Member)
New York Mineralogical Club, Bancroft Mineral Club
“Wavellite in Pennsylvania” (1994) (1st Place Prize from American Federation of Mineralogical Societies)
“A Fluorescent Chabazite Locality near Bancroft, Ontario,” 11 Mineral News 4 (January 1995)