The Accutane case, which began in 2003, alleged the powerful acne drug causes inflammatory bowel disease. Seeger Weiss partner David Buchanan played a major role in litigating plaintiffs’ claims in a longstanding case against drug manufacturer Roche. In 2005, he was appointed Liaison Counsel and trial counsel representing plaintiffs suffering from ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease as a result of their use of Accutane.
Buchanan called the long-lasting litigation a “little bit of a Groundhog Day,” in an interview with Law360, a reference to the multiple bellwether cases Roche has forced in the case.
These bellwether trials provided important harbingers to the parties for the broader litigation. Buchanan served as trial counsel in McCarrell v. Hoffmann La Roche, Inc., (No. A-4481-12T1; N.J.), representing an Alabama man who developed ulcerative colitis shortly after stopping Accutane, and secured a $2.5 million verdict in first trial and a $25.5 million jury verdict in re-trial. He also served as trial counsel in Kendall v. Hoffman La Roche Inc. (No. 36 A. 3d 541; N.J.), representing a Utah woman who developed ulcerative colitis after stopping Accutane, and secured a $10.4 million verdict in first trial and $1.4 million verdict in re-trial. Buchanan served as lead trial counsel in the consolidated trial Rossitto & Wilkinson v. Hoffmannn-La Roche, Inc. (Nos. L-7481-10 and L-1311-08; N.J.), representing a New Jersey woman (Ms. Rossitto) and Utah man (Mr. Wilkinson) concerning their development of ulcerative colitis and resulting complications following the use of Accutane, winning an initial verdict of $18 million for the plaintiffs.
These contentious proceedings have similarly resulted in several landmark decisions from the New Jersey Supreme Court and the New Jersey Appellate Division—in which Buchanan served as appellate counsel—on legal issues of wide import, including choice of law, the discovery rule applicable in products liability claims, the presumptions afforded under the New Jersey Products Liability Act, and the admissibility of expert scientific testimony.