Ms. O’Connor is a graduate of the Fordham University School of Law in New York City from which she obtained her juris doctor degree in 1988. She is licensed to practice in both New York and New Jersey. Prior to entering law school Ms. O’Connor received her diploma from the Beth Israel School of Nursing in lower Manhattan followed by her Registered Nurse license in November, 1976. Thereafter, she worked for several years as a medical-surgical nurse in the Intensive Care “step-down” Unit at the Beth Israel Medical Center, followed by several years in public health nursing while at Visiting Nurse Service of New York. In 1984, Ms. O’Connor obtained her Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing (B.S.N.) cum laude, from the Hunter College of the City of New York in collaboration with its affiliate institution, The Brookdale School of Health Sciences.
Ms. O’Connor is currently involved in representing individuals who have been diagnosed with bladder cancer, heart failure and other serious and permanent injuries as a result of the diabetes drug Actos. Recently, U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca F. Doherty appointed Ms. O’Connor to the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee for the proceeding styled as In Re: Actos (Pioglitazone) Product Liability Ligation (MDL-2299), pending in the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana. Judge Doherty further appointed Ms. O’Connor as Science Coordinator in charge of coordinating, overseeing and managing experts on behalf of plaintiffs in the MDL.
Ms. O’Connor also focuses her legal and medical expertise in representing women who have suffered venous thrombotic events (“VTEs “or blood clots), as a result of combined hormonal contraceptives, whether in the form of a pill, transdermal patch, or an implantable device. Along with her partners at Douglas & London, she litigated numerous cases in the MDL proceeding in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio pending before U.S. District Court Judge David Katz against Johnson & Johnson, the manufacturer of the defective Ortho Evra Birth Control Patch. Epidemiology studies confirmed the claims of thousands of women using the Patch that there was a two-fold increase in risk of blood clots associated with this product in contrast to combined oral contraceptive pills. Ms. O’Connor participated in numerous pre-trial proceedings and conducted a substantial number of depositions of both fact and expert witnesses in preparation for the “bellwether” trials slated to be tried in Fall, 2008.
Additionally, Ms. O’Connor is actively involved in the proceeding styled as In Re: Yasmin and Yaz (Drospirenone) Marketing Sales Practices and Product Liability Multidistrict Litigation (MDL No. 2100), pending in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, in which thousands of young women and adolescent girls are claiming injuries (blood clots, pulmonary embolism, gall bladder disease) due to their exposure to novel oral contraceptive pills manufactured, marketed and sold by Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Ms. O’Connor has been instrumental in preparing the first group of bellwether cases for trial, including the development of evidence in support of the generic theories of liability as well as the proof of causation and damages in the specific cases. To that end, she has conducted and defended numerous fact witness and expert witness depositions. She has been instrumental in retaining eminently qualified experts in the relevant disciplines, overseeing the service of expert reports, in addition to successfully defending the experts who were subjected to Daubert challenges. She, along with her partner, Gary Douglas, and other members of the Plaintiffs Steering Committtee, comprise the trial team, slated to try the first bellwether case in East St. Louis, Illinois, before Chief Judge David Herndon who presides over the litigation.
A significant part of Ms. O’Connor’s career has involved her representation of women and children who have been injured as a result of faulty products and/or medical practice that falls below the standard of care. For example, for a period of several years, Ms. O’Connor litigated cases involving children born with limb reduction deficits linked to a pre-natal diagnostic test known as chorionic villi sampling or “CVS,” and was successful in obtaining substantial sums of money for the injured children and their families. CVS, which is performed much earlier in pregnancy than traditional amniocentesis, has been associated with the development of severe limb deformities in the fetuses exposed to this invasive pre-natal diagnostic test. Ms. O’Connor was admitted pro hac vice in several jurisdictions across the country, including Illinois, Minnesota, Oregon and California, because of her particular expertise in this litigation.
Ms. O’Connor’s experience in complex litigation involving defective medical devices and pharmaceuticals is extensive. She has over her many years of practice litigated numerous cases involving women who were injured and/or rendered infertile as a result of their use of the Dalkon Shield intrauterine device (IUD) or as a result of their exposure in utero to the devastating effects of Diethylstilbestrol (DES), a medication prescribed for women during pregnancy from the 1940s up through 1971. DES has been conclusively linked to the development of a rare form of uterine cancer in fetuses exposed to the drug as well as reproductive tract anomalies that interfere with the woman’s ability to conceive and carry a child to term.
Ms. O’Connor has significant experience in litigating mass torts in various Multi-District Litigation (MDL) proceedings. For example, Ms. O’Connor was involved in the Silicone Breast Implant MDL involving, among other large corporations, Dow Corning, Inc., and Dow Chemical Company, the manufacturers of silicone breast implants alleged to have caused cosmetic deformity, local and systemic infections and autoimmune illnesses. She regularly appeared in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, and the associated bankruptcy court proceeding after Dow Corning filed a Chapter 11 Petition in Bankruptcy. In addition to her work on the national level, she was concomitantly a member of the New York State Breast Implant Steering Committee in the consolidated breast implant litigation pending in the New York State trial court.
In addition to her experience in mass torts, Ms. O’Connor has tried many medical malpractice cases, including “hybrid” actions asserting claims of malpractice and product defect within the same case. She has also successfully litigated complex injury cases (automobile, construction accidents) in which the injured person suffers a so-called “mild” traumatic brain injury, sometimes referred to as the “invisible” injury because the injured victim appears to be perfectly normal. These challenging cases require a thorough understanding of complex issues of neuroscience, neuropsychological testing and neuro-imaging techniques. Ms. O’Connor also has represented children and families in claims made under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program administered through the Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C. Such claims include the development of autism, brain encephalopathy, autoimmune disease and even death as a result of exposure to a variety of vaccines.
Admissions to Practice:
- New York State – 1988
- U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York – 1989
- U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York – 1989
- New Jersey – 1998
- U.S. Court of Federal Claims – 1998
Current and Past Professional Organizations and Affiliations
- American Association of Justice (AAJ)
- New York State Trial Lawyer’s Association (NYSTLA)
- New York City Trial Lawyers’ Association (NYCTLA)
- Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group (TBLIG)
- North American Brain Injury Society (NABIS)
- The American Association of Nurse Attorneys (TAANA)