San Diego Pharmaceutical Drug Litigation: Fen Phen Class Action Suit

FEN-PHEN CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT  (MULTI-DISTRICT LITIGATION)

Confidential Settlement reached for a Los Angeles woman who suffered from a severe mitral-valve prolapse as a result of taking the diet drug Fen-Phen for a period of three years…

Attorney Mark C. Blane obtained a confidential settlement for a Los Angeles woman, who was a registered nurse, who suffered permanent heart defects as a result of taking the once popular diet drug Fen-Phen over a two-year period.  This was Mr. Blane’s first lawsuit straight out of law school, and was against one of the largest corporations in the U.S., then called American Home Products, Inc.  The case was settled fifteen (15) months later in confidential proceedings with Senior Counsel of a well respected national defense firm in San Francisco during pre-trial mediation.  The case was one among hundreds in California under Multi-District Litigation procedure rules as a Class Action lawsuit, and it settled with the same judge who decided the famous Erin Brokovich decision.


Press and News Releases

Class Action Hero

Thomas Jefferson grad filed a major class action suit, just one year out of law school.

the National Jurist
by Paul Hughes

article1.jpgLast summer, just one year out of law school, Mark Blane was still looking for a job and hoping to find his place in the legal profession. Today, like magic, he is one of the key attorneys in a major class action lawsuit at the center of the torts litigation world.

It's a pretty good trick, based 'largely on foresight and some "magic" beans. He and a former classmate, Chad McGuire, took on the makers of a diet drug pill combination known as Phen-Fen, which became a weight-loss fad but has since turned uglier than 50 pounds of lard. Pending court actions now blame the drug cocktail for causing hundreds of cases of heart damage, some serious.

Blane didn't get where he is through dumb luck. Even as an 11-year-old scrubbing grubby golf clubs for lawyers at a countty club, he knew he wanted to follow in their footsteps. After earning a B.S. in Psychology and a B.C.J. in Criminal Justice at Louisiana State University, he moved on to Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego - the perfect combination, he said, of "me, sun and surf." There, he clerked for the District Attorney, graduated and later passed the bar in June 1999.

"I had to pass; I was near broke," he said. "I literally had' nothing to fall back on. It was do or die."

Blane's rise seemed to sputter, however, as he looked for work. He took on contract work, enforcing child-support payments for the district attorney's office and making substitute court appearances for lawyers who couldn't be in court for one reason or another.

Then he hooked up with law school classmate McGuire, who graduated in December 1999. Together, they saw an opportunity to use their legal skills for something rewarding - helping McGuire's aunt, who had taken Phen-Fen for two years and had begun experiencing heart valve problems. Though the maker of the two drugs in Phen-Fen, American Home Products (AHP) of Madison, N.J., had taken them off the market in 1997, several class action and other lawsuits had begun. The two young attorneys filed suit on behalf of the aunt.

Of course, Blane was hoping that no one would look behind the curtain to see a young attorney with no office, one year out of school, on his first case -taking on one of the world's 10-largest pharmaceutical companies.

"Thinking back on it now, I was scared, but had nothing to lose," Blane said.

The risk paid off. Blane and McGuire's nerve caught the eye of David Hiden, founding partner of Hiden, Rott & Oertle, a San Diego law firm. Hiden had met Blane in court when he was opposing counsel on one of Blane's stand-in jobs. And when Hiden heard of the aunt's case, he was impressed and offered the two men, who had mulled over starting a practice, jobs with his firm.

"David took us in when we were practically starving," Blane said. "[We] became associate members... and our precious Phen-Fen case now had a home."

Since then, Blane has found 75 more Ppen-Fen clients in HR&P's labor union contracts. A federal judge signed off on the overall class action settlement in August 2000, in which AHP agreed to $3.75 billion in payouts between $37,000 and $1.5 million per person, based on age and the severity of damage. A settlement was reached 15 months after the lawsuit was filed in the aunt's case.

Blane and McGuire are now focused on new cases in the defective tire controversy involving Ford Motor Co. and Bridgestone/Firestone Inc.

Blane says he expects these and future high stakes personal injury cases to bring him more than lucrative financial rewards.

Local Law School Grads Win Major Phen-Fen Case

Bar Association to Present Nine Awards During Law Week

San Diego Business Journal - April 16, 2001
 
 

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Taking on a major pharmaceutical company in a national lawsuit
would seemingly be a challenge for any attorney. But Mark Blane
and Chad McGuire accepted that challenge and came out on top.

Less than two years out of law school and fighting their first case,
Blane and McGuire reached a major settlement in the Fen-Phen
diet drug case.

The former Thomas Jefferson School of Law students were both
associates with Hiden, Rott & Oertle in Mission Valley at the time.
They brought the case to the firm last December and reached a settlement with lawyers for Philadelphia-based American Home Products, Inc., the sixth largest pharmaceutical drug manufacturer in the world.

"It was exhilarating, actually," said Blane, a 1998 Thomas Jefferson graduate and head of Hiden's drug litigation team. "It was a challenge, but I'm always up for a challenge.

"Chad and I just glued ourselves to the information available for 15 months and (studied) the litigation going on in California and nationwide." The amount of the settlement was not disclosed because of pending litigation throughout the nation.

American Home Products reportedly has released $5 billion in trust in an attempt to settle the remaining claims throughout the country. The company manufactures and distributes more than 50 household brand-name products.

Hiden, Rott & GertIe have more than 75 Fen-Phen cases still pending. Blane is also preparing for cases against Johnson & Johnson Corp., the maker of Propulsid, an acid reflux medication that is said to cause liver problems, and the maker of the Type II diabetes drug Rezulin. He is also handling a case in federal court against Ford Motor Co. and Firestone/Bridgestone Inc. for vehicle rollovers.

 

Shreveport native makes his mark on California courts.

By J.L. Scott - THE TIMES
shreveporttimes.com

article_3.jpg

Legal triumphs over corporate giants are nothing special in
America today. But when a Shreveport native straight out of
law school is part of one of the largest pharmaceutical legal
settlements in history, hometown people celebrate.

Mark Blane, who is a California attorney in the firm of Hiden, Rott & Oertle, got the opportunity to test his legal skills three months after a December 1998 graduation from Thomas Jefferson School of law in California.

He took part in one of the largest pharmaceutical court settlements in u.s. history, a national $5 billion court case against American Home Products - maker of the diet drug Fen-Phen. With one big case to his credit, Blane, 30, is settillg his sights on others. As head of the firm's drug litigation team, he is preparing for a case against Johnson & Johnson Corp., maker of Propulsid, an acid reflux medication that allegedly causes liver problems. He is getting ready for a separate case involving the Type II diabetes drug Rezulin.

"He was always a hard worker," said his dad, Homer Blane, 60, of Shreveport. Mark Blane graduated from Captain Shreve High School and went on to get two degrees from LSU-Shreveport - one in psychology and one in criminal justice, his dad said.

Blalle worked his way through college and law school - while at LSUS, he was a waiter at Outback Steakhouse. During law school, he worked for the district attorney's of. fice translating Spanish. Blane was one of two lead attorneys from his law firm on the diet drug case. The other attorney was a fellow recent graduate, Chad McGuire.

"We really became involved in the case after we graduated because we learned Chad's aunt developed a heart problem as a result of taking Fen-Phen for about two years," Blane said. "The fact that Chad's aunt was affected by the drug fueled our passion to provide the best representation we could." The California class-action lawsuit was settled in December.

Blane continues to work in San Diego. He is pursuing a master's degree in business at San Diego State University, while juggling 75 new Fen-Phen cases that came after the settlement.

David Hiden, founding partner of Hiden, Rott & Oertle, said what Blane and McGuire accomplished in the Fen-Phen settlement defied their ages and experience. "Mark demonstrated phenomenal litigation skills off the bat. Normally, a case oftl1is size wouldn't be turned over to an associate. But Mark and Chad both showed litigation skills of someone with at least 10 years of experience."



Rookie Attorney Shines In Landmark Fen-Phen Case.

Brother & P artner win record settlement with first lawsuit

The Kappa Alpha Journal - Spring 2001

article13.jpgWith victory comes success. With success comes experience. With experience comes respect and with respect comes wisdom.
If this is true, then at age 30, Mark Blane (Delta Iota '92-Texas-Arlington) is well on his way to becoming a wise man.

Most attorneys work their entire lives to accomplish what Blane did in under a year. Just three months after his graduation from Thomas Jefferson School of Law in California, Blane was one of two attorneys from his firm, Hiden, Rott & Gertle, to lead the Fen-Phen diet " drug settlement in California.

His partner was a fellow recent graduate, Chad McGuire.

"We really became involved in the case after we graduated because we learned Chad's aunt developed a heart problem as a result of taking Fen-Pen for about two years," said Blane in The Shreveport Times. "The fact that Chad's aunt was affected by the drug fueled our passion to pro- vide the best representation we could."

In December 1998, Blane, a native of Shreveport, Louisiana, graduated from law school and, the following year, passed the California Bar on his first attempt. Blane filed suit against Fen-Phen manufacturers American Home Products, just three months after he passed the Bar. It was the first lawsuit he had ever filed and was part of one of the largest pharmaceutical court settlements in US trial history. The amount of the settlement remains confidential because of the pending litigation nationwide.

David Hiden, of Hiden, Rott & Oertle, said of Blane in The Shreveport Times, "Mark demonstrated phenomenal litigation skills off the bat. Normally, a case of this size wouldn't be turned over to an associate. But Mark and Chad both showed litigation skills of someone with at least 10 years of experience."

With one Fen-Phen case settled, Blane, who now heads the Pharmaceutical Drug Litigation team at Hiden, Rott & Oertle, still has 75 other Fen-Phen cases to finish. In the midst of these and other large cases, Blane is also pursuing a master's degree in business at San Diego State University. "It is quite a symbol of our judicial system that recent admittees to the Bar can go toe-to-toe in litigation with the sixth largest drug manufacturer in the world, and come away with a satisfactory result," said Blane. "The experience will be unforgettable. However, more importantly, our client views this settlement as a moral victory for what this corporation did."



acrtile_4.jpgLetter from the Dean of
Thomas Jefferson School Of Law

 

The ABA Journal

The Big Q - What is the biggest misconception
about being a lawyer?

The biggest misconception is that just because you are a licensed attorney, you know how to practice every single detail of every single area of the law. After passing the bar exam, you have a tremendous amount of legal theory in your memory, but practical experience in only a few areas of the law is really key for an effective and efficient representation. I tell clients all the time that I cannot take their case because I do not specialize in that area, and I am forced to refer them to someone else. Sometimes they have a puzzled reaction, but they appreciate my candor. I feel comfortable specializing in just one area. That way, I can do it well and keep up as it changes.

 

LSUS Graduate Finds Success...article_5.jpg

 

Confidential Settlement