In ‘For Plaintiffs Bar, Taking on J&J Means Battling a Shadow Foe,’ Law.com’s Amanda Bronstad reports on the “intimate relationship” between Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (the Chamber). The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is not a government entity, but a powerful group of lobbyists, the largest in the nation. Plaintiff’s lawyers point out the unfair advantage pharmaceutical companies and other large corporations have, both passing legislation and in litigation with the Chamber advocating on their behalf.
“It can make it hard to tell where J&J’s advocacy ends and the Chamber’s begins” says Bronstad.
J&J and the Chamber’s ties are close, consistent and reciprocal continues Bronstad. She writes they have the same mouthpiece, source of money, commonality of directors and echo the same mission:
- The Chamber often uses J&J lawsuits as examples of a tort system out of control and to advocate for tort reform such as venue rules, limited plaintiff bar advertising and third-party litigation funding. With the help of the Chamber, Bristol-Meyers Squibb Co., another drug maker, won a significant U.S. Supreme Court case that will change mass torts nationwide.
- John Beisner is chairman of corporate defense firm Skadden, Arp Slate, Meagher & Flom and a top lawyer for The Chamber. Michael Ullmann was a board member of the Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform in 2015 and is J&J’s general counsel.
- The Chamber often files amicus briefs on behalf of J&J, which allows J&J to bypass brief limitations.
The Chamber is “just one more bullet in their gun. If they can get a nonprofit to do their bidding and do their thing, it saves them a lot of money. You can contribute to the nonprofit and deduct a lot of those expenses as contributions.” – attorney Stephen Sheller, Sheller PC
Stephen Sheller has vast experience litigating against J&J and its multiple subsidiaries, for defective drugs, medical devices, and deceptive marketing practices. Sheller, partnering with Tom Kline of Kline and Specter, teamed up to advocate for young boys who developed gynecomastia while taking J&J’s drug Rispderal.
Sheller describes J&J’s litigation pattern as predictable, always to “the nth degree.” With a powerful lobbying group like the Chamber advocating hard in court and changing laws on J&J’s behalf, it’s unlikely this will change.