Winston & Strawn taps Bartlit Beck partner, forecasting mass tort work

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Signage is seen outside of the law firm Winston & Strawn LLP in Washington, D.C., U.S., August 30, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

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  • Bartlit Beck partner Sharon Desh represented Walgreens in federal opioid trial in Ohio
  • Jury faulted Walgreens, other pharmacies
  • Desh, now at Winston & Strawn, has also represented Amazon, Bayer, DuPont

(Reuters) - Winston & Strawn on Wednesday said it has hired a partner from a Chicago litigation firm in anticipation of taking on more mass tort and product liability lawsuits.

Sharon Desh was a partner at Bartlit Beck, which was founded by a group of Kirkland & Ellis partners in 1993.

Desh was among the Bartlit Beck attorneys representing pharmacy chain Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc over claims it helped fuel the U.S. opioid epidemic.

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A federal jury in Cleveland in November found that Walgreens, along with CVS Health Corp and Walmart Inc, helped create a "public nuisance" that resulted in an oversupply of addictive pain pills and the diversion of those opioids to the black market.

Walgreens said it would appeal the verdict. Desh was one of the attorneys who authored a Dec. 21 motion on Walgreens' behalf arguing that the plaintiffs never proved their case.

Desh has also represented technology giant Inc, industrial materials maker DuPont de Nemours Inc and Bayer AG in litigation. Her work covers mass tort, product liability, antitrust and patents cases, the firm said.

"We expect mass tort and product liability litigation to continue its upward trend as courts adapt to operating in a post-COVID environment," Cardelle Spangler, the managing partner of Winston’s Chicago office, said in a statement.

Christopher Murphy and Terrence Dee, a pair of class action litigators who joined Winston from McDermott Will & Emery in December, said at the time that class action work is rising in volume and complexity, and the pandemic created a backlog in products liability cases.

Jason Peltz, the managing partner of Bartlit Beck, did not respond to a request for comment.

Read more:

Winston takes partner pair from McDermott, including class action co-head

Pharmacy chains including CVS helped fuel opioid epidemic, U.S. jury finds

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David Thomas reports on the business of law, including law firm strategy, hiring, mergers and litigation. He is based out of Chicago. He can be reached at and on Twitter @DaveThomas5150.