Drug Product Liability Litigation: Principles and Practice

Section 1, Fall 17

Schedule Information

Enrollment: 17/17
Credits: 3

Course Description

More product liability lawsuits are filed against prescription drug manufacturers than against all other industries combined. As one legal scholar put it, the pharmaceutical industry is now “in tobacco-land in terms of how much people hate it,” and drug product liability litigation is now a “growth industry.” This course will consider the theory and practice of such lawsuits before, and now after, the Supreme Court’s landmark decisions in Wyeth v. Levine (2009), Plia v. Mensing (2011), and Barnett v. Mutual Pharm. (2013). At the outset, we will focus on the similarities and differences between such litigation and other product liability cases, using the “Phen-Fen” cases tried by the instructor as a model, and on the special context of FDA regulation. We will then consider the legal principles governing such lawsuits, such as inadequate warning; the learned intermediary doctrine; and medical causation. As part of each class, we will review the manner in which those issues were presented to a jury using the edited record of a recent pharma products trial. The course will also consider the practical application of those doctrines, including the problems when doctors are witnesses; discovery strategies; and techniques to present complex information to juries. For the final class, each student will prepare one short portion of an opening jury statement, based on the edited trial record they have been reviewing, which will then be combined and presented to a “jury” recruited from Charlottesville residents.

Course Requirements

Exam Info:
Midterm Type (if any): None
Description: None

Final Type (if any): None

Written Work Product
Written Work Product: A short “bench memo” due Week 7; a 1200-1500 word section of the final jury presentation due Week 11; class participation. (N.B. The oral component of the jury presentation will not be graded -- only the individual written components will be evaluated.)

Other Work

Other Course Details
Prerequisites: None Concurrencies: None
Mutually Exclusive With: Drug Product Liability Litigation Seminar (9294)
Laptops Allowed: Yes
First Day Attendance Required: No
Course Notes: This course will meet simultaneously with Law 9294 (Drug Product Liability Seminar). The 3-credit Principles and Practice section of the course will be expected to prepare one short portion of an opening jury statement, which will then be combined and presented to a “jury” recruited from Charlottesville residents for the last class meeting, while the 2-credit Seminar section of the course will not be required to do so, although they are welcome to attend the last class meeting to watch.

Graduation Requirements

*Satisfies Writing Requirement: No
**Credits For Prof. Skills Requirement: Yes
Satisfies Professional Ethics: No

*Yes means professor requires everyone in the course to submit a substantial research paper (which is the requirement standard in Academic Policies), so no paperwork required to be submitted to SRO. No means student must timely submit paperwork to SRO if intending to use a paper in this course to satisfy the Writing Requirement.

**Yes indicates course credits count towards UVA Law’s Prof. Skills graduation requirement, not necessarily a skills requirements for any particular state bar.

General Information

Schedule No.
Law No.
Modified Type
Cross Listed: No
Cross-Listed Course Mnemonic:
Public Syllabus Link: None
Evaluation Portal Via LawWeb Opens:
Evaluation Portal Via LawWeb Closes: