Meet the Science Team

Meet the science team

Can you provide us with an overview of your experience?

Will: As Scientific Director, I’ve developed and led KTB’s growing scientific practice since joining the firm in 2019. I routinely serve in court-appointed scientific leadership in federal and state pharmaceutical and medical device complex litigations, in which I work with experts to develop scientific and medical evidence that inures to the common benefit of hundreds of thousands of plaintiffs. Last year, I was elected to the prestigious American College of Epidemiology, in which I serve in leadership establishing ethics and standards of practice in epidemiology, and named a leading American scientist by Marquis Who’s Who in America for my significant and sustained contributions to the field of epidemiology and its application to the law. I hold a law degree with honors from Emory University, a graduate degree with honors in chronic disease epidemiology from Yale University, and an undergraduate degree in molecular cell biology from Duke University.

Vinh: As an Attorney at Kershaw Talley Barlow, I specialize in class action and mass tort litigation. My background is rich in handling high-stakes intellectual property and commercial disputes, particularly in patent and complex pharmaceutical cases. Before joining KTB, I gained extensive experience in Silicon Valley, representing major corporations in patent and commercial litigation across a wide range of technologies. My legal proficiency spans areas like consumer products, software and hardware, internet technologies, and biotechnology. With a J.D. from Emory University and a B.S. in Biology from the University of Washington, complemented by my early career as a research scientist, I bring a unique blend of scientific and legal acumen to tackle the multifaceted challenges of multijurisdictional litigation, particularly in cases involving pharmaceutical negligence and misconduct.

Tell me about KTB's science department and the successes the team has faced since its inception?

Will: KTB’s scientific practice developed as a natural extension of our larger mass tort practice. Having worked as a scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Center for Patient Safety, Dartmouth College, and Vanderbilt University, I’m used to collaborating with other scientists to answer complex questions and, upon my arrival at KTB, aspired to develop an in-house science team that I could trust with important expert work and to troubleshoot complex, technical issues. Our science team has experienced success in a few short years, having been appointed by the courts to scientific leadership in a number of complex litigations and collaborating with leading, national complex litigation firms including Keller Postman, the Lanier Law Firm, Watts Guerra, Holwell Shuster Goldberg, Tracey Fox and Walters, Dovel and Luner, and many more.

Describe KTB's approach to evaluating potential mass tort cases, especially in terms of analyzing scientific data and literature. How does this process influence your selection of scientific experts for testimony?

Vinh: At KTB, Will and I play a pivotal role in guiding the partners when considering a potential mass tort. Our process begins with a thorough analysis of various data sets, including adverse event data from sources like MAUDE and FAERS. We look for any signals that suggest a potential scientific issue, focusing on probative aspects rather than outright causation. This initial analysis often involves a deep dive into existing literature, including observational studies or clinical trial data, to ascertain if there's a substantial issue. Where necessary, we also consult with external experts. The scientific assessment is rigorous; if it passes muster, we then evaluate the financial positioning and background context. In identifying and vetting scientific experts, we focus on the expert's credentials, experience, and, critically, their ability to communicate complex scientific concepts clearly and convincingly in a legal setting. We seek experts with a robust academic and practical background, who possess a deep understanding of the relevant scientific principles. This ensures that our experts not only contribute substantively to our cases but also resonate effectively with judges and juries.

What are some of the difficulties you face when trying to incorporate a science and data analytics lens in KTB's legal practice?

Vinh: Integrating science and data analytics into legal practice presents unique challenges. One significant hurdle is bridging the gap between complex scientific concepts and legal arguments in a way that is both accurate and accessible to those without a scientific background. This involves translating dense scientific data into understandable and compelling narratives. Another challenge is staying abreast of rapidly evolving scientific methodologies and technologies, ensuring that our legal strategies are not just current but also forward-thinking. Additionally, we often encounter skepticism regarding new or advanced scientific techniques, requiring us to not only advocate for our clients but also educate the legal community about these emerging tools. Key to this integration is understanding and responding to new litigation trends driven by AI. Lastly, as AI becomes more sophisticated, traditional liability concepts begin to evolve, necessitating adaptations in our legal frameworks and strategies. These trends include not just the use of generative AI but also class actions against employment and finance algorithms. This involves converting legal principles into mathematical tests for specific use cases. For instance, ensuring fairness in an HR model requires accurate determinations about job access without violating anti-discrimination laws. This is achieved by designing tests that can check the AI's decisions against these legal requirements​​.

How has the role of epidemiology changed over the past few years in Mass Tort litigations? How do you think this will evolve given what you've experienced so far?

Will: Epidemiology and its subdisciplines, e.g., pharmacoepidemiology and pharmacovigilance, have evolved considerably over the past two decades. Courts have generally been slow to adopt generally accepted, albeit newer, methodologies in support of causation, liability, and notice, although a number of jurisdictions and the Federal Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence have already embraced more modern interpretations of epidemiological data. As complex litigations grow even more scientifically and technically complex, litigants and judges will necessarily have to consider and evaluate new and different epidemiological lines of evidence. It will be up to lawyers and scientists to thoughtfully and diligently present this data and make the case for its admissibility at trial.

Why should other firms partner with Kershaw Talley Barlow’s science team?

Will: The members of our science team proudly characterize ourselves as equal parts scientist and lawyer. Collectively, we’ve spent decades training and honing our science skills in the laboratory and on the field, which imparts a level of first-hand knowledge and experience that is critical to understanding every scientific and technical facet of even the most complex litigations. That complete understanding, combined with diligent preparation and legal creativity, has been the key to our success in the courtroom.

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