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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

Continuing Growth and Change for the Toxic Tort Litigation Industry

Like the growing scale of cancer, there is a growing scale to toxic tort litigation and law firms. This week, for example, brings news of 21 toxic tort lawyers moving to Polsinelli. Last year, the big news on the defense side was defined by many as Sheila Birnbaum leaving Skadden to join Quinn Emanuel.

The plaintiff’s side of the bar also continues to grow and reconfigure, and the efforts and investments by plaintiffs drive the litigation engine. Last year, some defined the big news as the international expansion of Slater & Gordon into the UK. Slater & Gordon is the plaintiff’s firm that went public in Australian in 2007.   Now, there is more expansion in the US among strong plaintiff’s firms. Set out below is a June 4 press release from the former Simmons firm regarding its formal merger with Hanly Conroy of New York.

The bottom line – more growth is ahead for the toxic tort litigation industry, and I’m feeling pretty good about my June 2009 prediction of more entrepreneurial growth of the litigation industry. Likewise, AmLaw was on the money with its 1995 prediction (revisited in 2003) that a fellow named Mark Lanier would become a powerhouse lawyer.  After all, $9 billion verdicts against big pharma do not happen every day.

“June 4, 2014

ST. LOUIS (June 4, 2014) – Simmons Browder Gianaris Angelides & Barnerd LLC and Hanly Conroy Bierstein Sheridan Fisher & Hayes LLP, national leaders in mass tort and complex litigation, announced today the two law firms will merge effective July 1 of this year. The firm will be called Simmons Hanly Conroy and have offices in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, St. Louis and Alton, Ill. The new firm will continue to represent victims of corporate wrongdoing.

“The merger gives us a New York office, expands our attorney depth and creates a streamlined practice with centuries of litigation experience,” said Chairman John Simmons. “Together, we are positioned as a dominant national leader in asbestos, mass tort and complex litigation matters, and we are especially pleased that Jayne Conroy will continue her leadership role as a named shareholder in the merged firm.”

Simmons and Hanly Conroy have been co-counsel partners for over a decade, successfully resolving products liability litigations including Oxycontin, Chantix, Yaz and Toyota unintended acceleration cases. The merger is a natural progression of the firms’ existing relationship, said Simmons.

The Simmons Firm employs more than 60 attorneys and 150 professional support staff spread among five offices in St. Louis, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Alton, Ill. Founded in 1999 by Simmons, the firm quickly developed a national reputation in asbestos litigation by securing a $250 million verdict against U.S. Steel on behalf of a factory worker diagnosed with mesothelioma.

Hanly Conroy operates out of New York and employs nine attorneys. Formed in 2002 by Paul Hanly and Jayne Conroy, the firm has assumed leadership roles in high profile, multi-jurisdictional litigation such as the September 11 litigation, Pinnacle hip replacement litigation and more.

“The firm’s extensive federal court experience and national resources will be a winning combination for clients and position us to not only evolve but thrive in an ever-changing, competitive legal marketplace,” said Shareholder Paul Hanly.

In addition to Simmons, Hanly and Conroy, current Simmons shareholders Perry Browder, Ted Gianaris, John Barnerd and Michael Angelides will continue to serve in management roles. John Simmons will serve as Chairman and Michael Angelides as Managing Shareholder. Browder will continue to manage the firm’s asbestos department, and Hanly will oversee the firm’s complex litigation department.

“The name on the door has changed over the years, but this firm has never been about any one person,” Simmons said. “It’s always been about doing what’s right for our clients. That will never change.”

About Simmons Browder Gianaris Angelides & Barnerd LLC The Simmons Firm is a national litigation firm with practices focusing on asbestos, dangerous drugs and medical devices, intellectual property infringement, environmental litigation, consumer protection and contingent fee commercial litigation. With offices in Illinois, Missouri and California, the firm has secured more than $4 billion in verdicts and settlements on behalf of thousands of clients throughout the country. For more information about the Simmons Firm, visit

About Hanly Conroy Bierstein Sheridan Fisher Hayes LLP Hanly Conroy is a national litigation firm based in Manhattan and known for its work on high-profile, complex legal cases of national scope including September 11 litigation, Depuy hip replacement litigation, Toyota unintended acceleration litigation and more. Co-founded in 2002 by Paul Hanly and Jane Conroy, the firm provides sophisticated legal counsel to its clients in the areas of pharmaceutical mass torts, commercial litigation, class actions, environmental litigation and entertainment law. Learn more at”

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