Christopher A. Seeger
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Christopher A. Seeger is broadly admired as one of the nation’s most versatile, innovative and accomplished members of the plaintiff’s trial bar. Since founding Seeger Weiss LLP in 1999, Mr. Seeger has earned leadership appointments from state and federal courts throughout the United States in many of the country’s most complex and noteworthy multidistrict litigations. Most recently, Mr. Seeger was appointed co-lead counsel and served as the chief negotiator in the NFL concussion injury multi-district litigation, where he successfully represented thousands of retired NFL players who suffered brain-related injuries as a result of hits sustained during their playing careers. Nationally recognized for his groundbreaking work in pharmaceutical mass actions involving Vioxx, Zyprexa, Rezulin, PPA and Gadolinium, among others, which resulted in the recovery of over $8 billion for injured victims nationwide, Mr. Seeger has achieved similar milestone successes in class and mass actions encompassing a vast array of corporate misconduct.
Mr. Seeger earned his law degree magna cum laude in 1990 from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, where he served as the Managing Editor of the Cardozo Law Review, and which honored him with its Alumnus of the Year Award in 2009, the highest honor bestowed on an alumnus of the Law School. Mr. Seeger’s undergraduate career was similarly distinguished, graduating summa cum laude in 1987 from Hunter College of the City University of New York, which inducted Mr. Seeger into its Alumni Hall of Fame in 2007. In recognition of his preeminence in the trial bar, Hunter College honored Mr. Seeger with its Distinguished Alumni Lawyer Award in 2013.
Mr. Seeger spent his early years in the law honing his skills while representing corporate and other business interests in a variety of bankruptcy and commercial litigation settings. Struck by the imbalance of power between corporate America and individuals victimized by corporate abuse and malfeasance, Mr. Seeger made a decisive shift to the plaintiff’s bar by forging his own practice that would become the predecessor to Seeger Weiss. Over the ensuing two decades, Mr. Seeger has become a leveling force on behalf of individuals and other disenfranchised victims of institutional wrongdoing.
In 2012, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania appointed Mr. Seeger to lead the highly visible and contentious multidistrict litigation against the National Football League arising out of concussion-related injuries sustained by thousands of former NFL players over the past several decades. In the face of significant legal and scientific obstacles, Mr. Seeger brought all of his experience and diplomacy to bear as chief negotiator in crafting a global settlement for thousands of former NFL athletes, which the court preliminarily approved in June 2014. The settlement would ensure that the players suffering neurocognitive damage and disease, including those whose symptoms have not yet manifested themselves, will have access to an unlimited total amount of funds for their current or future treatment.
Mr. Seeger’s milestone results in national pharmaceutical cases have been equally noteworthy. Following his appointment to co-lead the Plaintiff’s Steering Committee and to serve as one of only three members of the Executive Committee in the Vioxx MDL in the federal district court proceeding in New Orleans, Mr. Seeger led a team of over 100 law firms in their effort to bring defendant Merck & Co. to justice. In his leadership capacity, Mr. Seeger was responsible for developing and executing the overall litigation strategy governing the approximately 27,000 individual cases then pending in the multidistrict litigation. Following a half-decade of contentious litigation spanning over 18 separate trials, Mr. Seeger and his colleagues secured a settlement for the injured class totaling $4.85 billion. Notable among those trials was Mr. Seeger’s representation of Frederick “Mike” Humeston and his wife Mary, which resulted in a 2007 jury verdict in the amount of $47.5 million. Mr. Seeger also served as Liaison Counsel and chief negotiator in connection with the $700 million national settlement with Eli Lilly & Co. in 2005 on behalf of patients who claimed that they had developed diabetes or gained weight while taking Zyprexa.
Similarly representative of his broad impact was Mr. Seeger’s pivotal work in the multidistrict litigation involving massive property damage to approximately 30,000 homes and commercial properties resulting from the installation of defective Chinese-manufactured drywall in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In his role as Chair of the Plaintiff’s Trial Committee, Mr. Seeger served as lead trial counsel in the first Chinese-drywall trial in the country, resulting in a $2.6 million verdict for seven Virginia families. Mr. Seeger also tried the second bellwether case, securing a $164,049 judgment for a Louisiana family, thereby establishing a measure of damages for the many thousands of other families and households similarly affected by the defective drywall. Following Mr. Seeger’s seminal trial victories, defendant-distributor Knauf Plasterboard (Tianjin) Co., Ltd. and related entities agreed in 2011 to pay $800 million in settlement of its nationwide liabilities.
Mr. Seeger’s dedication to the underserved and disenfranchised derives from his own blue collar upbringing. Raised by a father who was a union carpenter, Mr. Seeger witnessed the struggle between injured individuals and the big businesses that wronged them. Prior to attending college, Chris also worked as a carpenter, where he learned firsthand the value of physical labor and craftsmanship. In his spare time, Mr. Seeger sharpened his strategic and athletic abilities as an amateur boxer, where he shaped and channeled his focus and aggressiveness – skills that serve him well today in the courtroom. Later in his life, Mr. Seeger applied those skills and discipline in the competitive world of Brazilian jiu jitsu, culminating in his Gold Medal triumph in the 2012 Pan American No-Gi Jiu Jitsu Championship in his age and weight class.
Despite his manifest professional accomplishments, Mr. Seeger continues to approach each case with compassion and a sensitivity to the human condition. Whether handling a mass or class action involving thousands of consumers or investors victimized by corporate fraud, or a single individual injured by an act of negligence, he understands that his clients have suffered an acute personal trauma or financial harm that is often life-altering.
Some of Mr. Seeger’s most notable roles:
- On July 31, 2013, Judge Matthew Kennelly appointed Chris Seeger as co-lead counsel to represent the interests of clients who were injured by their use of testosterone medications.
- Serves as Co-Lead Counsel in Concussion Lawsuit against the National Football League. In December 2011, Mr. Seeger filed lawsuits on behalf of several retired NFL players alleging that the NFL failed to take the necessary precautions to protect its players from long-term brain injuries. Following months of intense negotiations led by Mr. Seeger, the parties announced in August 2013 a global settlement in the amount of $765 million. After the judge and some former players raised concerns about the scope of the proposed settlement, Mr. Seeger worked with the court-appointed Special Master and all parties to address those concerns, and in June 2014 reached a revised settlement ensuring that players suffering neurological damage and disease will have access to an uncapped amount of funds for their treatment.
- Unanimous selection by the Vioxx plaintiffs’ lawyers to co-lead the federal Vioxx MDL. U.S. District Judge Eldon E. Fallon affirmed that choice when he appointed Mr. Seeger to co-lead the Plaintiff’s Steering Committee and to be one of only three members of the Executive Committee. This appointment enabled Mr. Seeger to develop the overall litigation strategy for the approximately 27,000 separate cases against Merck & Co., as well as select witnesses, gather evidence, choose expert witnesses, and meet regularly with the judge and opposing counsel. Following several years of contentious litigation, Mr. Seeger and his colleagues secured a settlement for the injured class totaling $4.85 billion.
- Representation of Frederick “Mike” Humeston and his wife Mary in a Vioxx related personal injury lawsuit in Atlantic City, New Jersey received national attention during the course of the case, which began in September 2005, and resulted in a 2007 jury verdict of compensatory and punitive damages against Merck & Co. in the amount of $47.5 million. Mr. Humeston, an ex-marine and twice-decorated Vietnam veteran, had suffered a heart attack after using Vioxx for a short period of time. Originally, in October 2005 the jury sided with Merck but after Mr. Seeger uncovered evidence that had been withheld, in August 2006 Judge Carol E. Higbee vacated Merck’s jury win and granted Mr. Humeston a new trial.
- Lead Counsel in the consolidated action on behalf of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local #68 Welfare Fund and other similarly-situated third-party payors in their suit against Merck to recover money that they paid for Vioxx prescriptions. Following years of rigorous litigation, the parties announced an $80 million global resolution.
- Serves as Chair of the Trial Committee in the Chinese-Manufactured Drywall Products Liability MDL. This litigation, which includes thousands of claimants asserting property damage and personal injury, concerns approximately 30,000 homes and commercial properties that were either repaired or constructed with the Chinese drywall between 2005 and 2006. This product is reported to contain high levels of hydrogen sulfides, compounds that when exposed to prolonged heat or humidity, release sulfur gases resulting in terrible odors, metal corrosion, and physical injuries. The litigation was centralized in the Eastern District of Louisiana in June 2009 by order of the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. Mr. Seeger tried the first defective Chinese-manufactured drywall case in the country, resulting in a $2.6 million verdict for seven Virginia families. Mr. Seeger also tried the second bellwether case, which determined whether manufacturers were responsible for damages the drywall’s toxic fumes cause to plumbing, electronics, and appliances, securing a $164,049 judgment for the Hernandez family. Mr. Seeger chairs a second committee of national trial teams pursuing Chinese-manufactured drywall cases.
- Appointed to Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) Actos Product Liability Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee. In June 2011, a European study found that Actos, produced by Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., was linked to an increased incidence of bladder cancer. However, the health warnings that accompany the prescription fail to alert users of this risk. The governments of France and Germany have now banned the type-2 diabetes medication, and the FDA has issued warnings to American doctors who prescribe the drug. Takeda, Asia’s largest pharmaceutical company, may face up to as many as 10,000 claims.
- Appointed to the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee (PEC) in the In Re: Depuy Orthopaedics, Inc. ASR Hip Implant Products Multidistrict Litigation (MDL). In August 2010, DePuy recalled two acetyabular cups hip replacement systems because of their high rate of failures. By the time of the recall, more than 93,000 patients worldwide were fitted with an ASR hip implant. Roughly a third of those were patients in the United States. Thousands of lawsuits have been filed against Johnson & Johnson, the pharmaceutical giant that is also the parent company of Depuy Orthopaedics, Inc.
- Served as a member of the Yasmin and Yaz MDL Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee (PSC). Yaz, Yasmin, and Ocella are three brands of birth control pills that pose a much greater risk of health complications than other oral contraceptives currently on the market. Yaz, Yasmin, and Ocella significantly increase the risk of severe health complications. The Food and Drug Administration issued several warnings to Bayer, the maker of Yaz and Yasmin, for false advertising and below-standard manufacturing plants. As a member of the PSC, Mr. Seeger helped guide the direction of the litigation.
- Served as member of the Gadolinium-based contrast dyes (GBCAs) MDL Executive Committee and Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee. The FDA identified a link between GBCAs used during Magnetic Resonance Imaging (“MRI”) and Magnetic Resonance Angiography (“MRA”) procedures, and a debilitating and potentially fatal skin disorder known as Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis or Nephrogenic Fibrosing Dermopathy (“NSF/NFD”). Mr. Seeger was also appointed Liaison Counsel in connection with the consolidated mass tort litigation against manufacturers of GBCAs in New Jersey.
- Served as lead trial counsel in the first case to be tried in New York against the manufacturer of Rezulin. In this trial, Mr. Seeger won a $2 million verdict against Pfizer on behalf of a Brooklyn resident who had sustained liver injuries following her Rezulin use. Mr. Seeger was also appointed to the Rezulin MDL Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee, which was assigned to Judge Lewis A. Kaplan in the Southern District of New York. He was also a member of the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee in the Rezulin New Jersey state and the New York state litigation; these cases were settled.
- Served as Liaison Counsel and chief negotiator in connection with a national $700 million settlement from Eli Lilly & Co. for patients who claimed that they had developed diabetes or gained weight while taking Zyprexa.
- Served as principal negotiator and Co-Lead Counsel in the nationwide settlement of all PPA (phenylpropanolamine) related injuries resulting from the ingestion of Dexatrim. Mr. Seeger was involved in the litigation against numerous manufacturers of pharmaceutical products containing PPA, and served on the PPA MDL Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee in the Western District of Washington and the PPA New York state court litigation before Judge Helen Freedman. In the New York matter Mr. Seeger also served as Liaison Counsel.
- Served on the Propulsid Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee in both the federal MDL case in the Eastern District of Louisiana and the New Jersey state litigation in Middlesex County.
- Representation of children and property owners pursuing serious lead poisoning claims as a result of living within one of the nation’s most notorious hazardous waste sites, known as Tar Creek, in the former Picher Mining Field in Northeast Oklahoma. The children suffered irreversible brain damage as a result of exposure to the lead left behind by the mining companies.
- Served as Policyowner Representative for a class of more than 3.2 million New York Life Insurance policyowners who suffered damages as the result of allegedly improper sales practices; negotiated the first settlement on the issue of “vanishing premium” policies; and, as Attorney Representative in the In re Prudential Life Insurance Sales Practices Litigation, settled nearly 53,000 separate claim arbitrations.
Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, J.D., magna cum laude, 1990
Managing Editor of the Benjamin N. Cardozo Law Review
Hunter College of the City University of New York, B.A., summa cum laude, 1987
U.S. District Courts of the
- Eastern District of New York
- Southern District of New York
- District of New Jersey
- District of Colorado
Memberships and Associations:
American Bar Association
American Association for Justice
Trial Lawyers for Public Justice
The Association of the Bar of the City of New York
New Jersey State Bar Association
New York State Trial Lawyers Association
Fellow of the International Society of Barristers
NYU Law School’s Center for Civil Justice Advisory Board
Hunter College Foundation Board
Dean’s Advisory Counsel, Cardozo School of Law
Duke Law’s Advisory Counsel
Fellow, American Bar Foundation
Honors and Awards:
Lawdragon 500, 2007 – 2015
National Law Journal, Top 50 Litigation Trailblazers and Pioneers
New York SuperLawyers, 2006-2015
New Jersey SuperLawyers, 2006 – 2015
Best Lawyers, Mass Tort Litigation
Hunter College Hall of Fame, 2007
Cardozo Alumnus of the Year, 2009
Nation’s Top One Percent, National Association of Distinguished Counsel, 2015
Publications and Presentations:
Mr. Seeger has lectured extensively on topics involving complex litigation including state and federal coordination of multi-state and multi-jurisdictional
litigation and the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution in class action and mass tort litigation.
Adjunct Professor, Trial Advocacy and Complex Litigation, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law
Past Board Member, Dwight Englewood School
Sponsor, Walk for Awareness, Englewood Hospital
Past Ex-Officio Board Member, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law
Pre-Law Advisory Board, Hunter College
Board of Directors, Esquire Bank
Board of Advisors, New York Real Estate Law Reporter