Sheila L. Birnbaum is co-chair of Dechert’s product liability and mass torts practice and focuses on complex product liability, mass torts and insurance litigation. She is one of the country’s preeminent product liability defense lawyers, having served as national counsel or lead defense counsel for numerous Fortune 500 companies in some of the largest and most complex tort cases in the United States. She has also argued many influential appeals in appellate courts across the United States, including the U.S. Supreme Court.
Ms. Birnbaum is national co-counsel for Purdue Pharma in over 1,000 federal and state lawsuits brought by state attorneys general, cities, municipalities, hospitals, third-party payers and others arising out of the marketing of opioid medications. She has represented many companies facing crisis management issues such as Dow Corning, Pfizer, Delaco, Saint Gobain and others.
Ms. Birnbaum has won three cases in the U.S. Supreme Court, including State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company v. Campbell where the Supreme Court reversed a US$145 million punitive damages award against the company as unconstitutionally excessive.
As the court-appointed mediator in federal court, Ms. Birnbaum mediated a US$500 million settlement for 92 families of victims of the 2001 World Trade Center terrorist attack. In 2011, Attorney General Eric Holder appointed her to serve as Special Master of the reactivated September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. She distributed nearly US$2 billion to claimants over the five years she oversaw the fund.