8:48 PM PDT, March 22, 2012
The law aims to protect men and women equally. Yet some types of cases nearly beg for female representation-and don't get it. That's why Karen Barth Menzies, partner at Robinson Calcagnie Robinson Shapiro & Davis, has devoted her career to taking on the cases that need her most.
Menzies is one of 8 partners at the 40-year-old firm known for its expertise in plaintiff consumer, patient protection, and consumer safety cases. Of them, her greatest legal battles have been won in the field of SSRI antidepressant litigation and cases pertaining to issues ofwomen's health.
Menzies began her career in juvenile justice, where she first discovered her passion for protecting the "little guy." She did just that when she won a major settlement on behalf of babies born with birth defects caused by certain SSRI antidepressants. The settlement provided enough money to support the children's care and medical expenses even after the parents had died. "After five years of litigation, to be able to tell the parents their kids will be taken care of no matter what happens meant everything to me," Menzies says.
RCRSD attorneys Jennifer Liakos and Janine Sperandeo are also fighting the SSRI Antidepressant birth defects cases, including Zoloft, Effexor, Celexa, Lexapro and Prozac.
Menzies continued to take on cases in the pharmaceutical industry
for good reason: She was increasingly concerned how large corporations
targeted specific populations-namely women-without warning them of
the downsides of their medications. From seeing internal company documents, she became convinced they were putting profits over safety because they knew that women were more likely than anyone to see a doctor and make health decisions for their families-a perfect way to increase their market share and thus profits.
Menzies and her team struck back when they took on the cause of post-menopausal women who'd been prescribed Fosamax as a preventative
treatment for osteoporosis. Fosamax, like most drugs Menzies tends to work with, is widely prescribed among older women whether they need it or not thanks to the defendant's marketing efforts.
In one typical case, a longtime user of Fosamax collapsed while walking down the street after her femur snapped in half. Menzies' team, including attorneys Lexi Myer, Jennifer Greene and Karen Karavatos, have helped hundreds of women who have banded together to spread awareness about the potentially traumatic side effects of the drug. "These women are so compelling," Menzies says of the victims who inspire her. "The easy part of my job is letting them talk. The hard part is fighting the defendants to disclose what they know are the dangers of these drugs."
Menzies accompanied 18 of the affected women to a meeting with 11 FDA officials. Six months later, the FDA issued an advisory. A trial is slated for Oct. 3, 2012. "We have a unique opportunity though litigation, to get on the inside of these companies and expose what they are trying to hide," Menzies says. "That's the stuff I try to get into the hands of the doctors."
In issues of women's health, female representation can help build clients' trust. And Menzies is grateful to her fellow partners for bringing on a team of powerful and dedicated women lawyers to serve them.
RCRSD attorney Shannon Lukei expressed compassion for her clients
commenting that the transvaginal mesh cases involve uniquely gruesome
damages that "detrimentally affect the spousal relationship-one of the most private and coveted in a woman's life." Lukei and Amanda Robinson are part
of the RCRSD team.
"Our female clients are relieved they can talk to another woman when describing their injuries and damages, which can involve very personal or private matters," Menzies explains. That hard-won trust pays huge dividends. Clients who share their private battles help Menzies make a public case against drugs that pose a threat to women everywhere.
Robinson Calcagnie Robinson Shapiro Davis, Inc.
19 Corporate Plaza Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660
600 South Commonwealth Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90005
893 East Brier Drive
San Bernardino, CA 92408