Seattle-based Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, which focuses on class-action and complex litigation cases, has opened a Washington office. Jennifer Connolly, who was previously a partner in Wexler Wallace’s Chicago office, will head the office and work to expand the firm’s Washington presence. She is of counsel to the firm.
Connolly, who is so far the only lawyer in the office, said the firm’s move into Washington came about when she moved to D.C. to be closer to family. She said she reached out to Hagens Berman managing partner Steve Berman in May to see whether the firm was interested in opening a Washington office.
“Steve and I had worked together closely on several cases over the years, and he said it would allow the firm to work more closely with clients in the area,” Connolly said. “It was really a natural fit.”
Connolly’s practice focuses on pharmaceutical price fixing cases, qui tam litigation and antitrust class actions. She said she worked with Hagens Berman lawyers on litigation against pharmaceutical companies, including AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Johnson & Johnson, and Schering Plough Corp., involving average wholesale price. Connolly said she also worked with the firm on a class action against McKesson Corp., which accused the drug distribution company of fraudulently hiking up the price of more than 400 medications. In 2008, McKessen agreed to pay $350 million to settle the suit.
Connolly said she is continuing to work on litigation stemming from the McKessen and the average wholesale price cases. She said she is also handling several qui tam cases, but she declined to disclose the defendants, citing a court order sealing the cases.
The firm is currently handling a class action on behalf of plaintiffs who cannot re-sell their Toyotas due to alleged acceleration defects. The firm is also handling a suit which alleges that CD and DVD hardware makers, including Sony, Hitachi, LG Technology and Philips, conducted anticompetitive business practices that eliminated new market competitors and created artificially high prices for optical disc drives.
Connolly said she has seen an increased number of clients wanting to file qui tam suits. And after the recent passage financial reform legislation, which includes provisions allowing for cash incentives for whistle blowers, Connolly said she has seen an increase in whistleblower cases as well.
Connolly said Hagens Berman, which has 48 lawyers in seven offices, plans to “let the office establish itself” before adding laterals in Washington, but that it definitely plans to grow in the future. “There are lots of opportunities to expand our scope and continue to do top-notch complex plaintiffs cases in the future,” she said.