Paul J. Hanly Jr., Top Litigator in Opioid Cases, Dies at 70


Paul J. Hanly Jr., a prime trial lawyer who had been central to the present nationwide litigation in opposition to pharmaceutical corporations and others in the provision chain for his or her function in the lethal opioid epidemic, died on Saturday at his residence in Miami Beach. He was 70.

The trigger was anaplastic thyroid most cancers, a particularly uncommon and aggressive illness, mentioned Jayne Conroy, his longtime legislation accomplice.

Over his four-decade profession, Mr. Hanly, a class-action plaintiffs’ lawyer, litigated and managed quite a few complicated authorized circumstances, involving amongst different issues the funding of terrorists, stemming from the assaults of Sept. 11, 2001, and allegations of the sexual abuse of dozens of boys by a person who ran an orphanage and college in Haiti.

But nothing compares to the nationwide opioid circumstances which might be pending in federal court docket in Cleveland on behalf of 1000’s of municipalities and tribes in opposition to the producers and distributors of prescription opioid ache medicines. The federal opioid litigation is regarded by many as maybe probably the most complicated in American authorized historical past — much more entangled and far-reaching than the epic authorized battles with the tobacco business.

The defendants — together with each hyperlink in the provision chain of opioid manufacturing, distributing and dishing out — are accused of aggressively advertising and marketing painkillers whereas downplaying the dangers of habit and overdose. Their actions, Mr. Hanly has argued, contributed to the opioid epidemic that has raged throughout the nation for twenty years, killing tons of of 1000’s of people that began abusing ache medicines like OxyContin and transitioned to road medication like heroin and fentanyl.

“This has probably been the most complicated constellation of litigation that’s come to the federal court in my tenure,” Judge Dan A. Polster of the Northern District of Ohio, who’s overseeing the sprawling case, mentioned in a telephone interview on Saturday. “I’ve been fortunate to have the best lawyers in the country on all sides, and Paul was one of them.”

“He was an excellent lawyer, a consummate professional,” the choose added. “He fought hard. He fought fairly. And that’s what you want from a lawyer, from an advocate.” He mentioned that Mr. Hanly had a management function “in helping to organize and make cohesive the plaintiffs’ side of the case.”

Mr. Hanly, of Simmons Hanly Conroy in New York, performed a number one function in the litigation as one among three plaintiffs’ attorneys appointed by Judge Polster to deal with main elements of the circumstances, together with negotiations. The others had been Joe Rice, of Motley Rice in South Carolina, and Paul T. Farrell Jr., of Farrell Law in West Virginia.

At the identical time, a number of opioid circumstances are continuing at the state degree. Mr. Hanly had additionally been making ready for a bellwether case in opposition to producers and distributors that’s scheduled to go to trial subsequent month in Suffolk County, N.Y.

He had lengthy been at the forefront of efforts to carry drug corporations accountable. He introduced one of many first large lawsuits in opposition to Purdue Pharma in 2003 for failing to warn greater than 5,000 sufferers in regards to the addictive properties of OxyContin. His purchasers finally settled with Purdue for $75 million. It was one of many few situations in which a drug maker agreed to pay particular person sufferers who had accused it of soft-pedaling the chance of habit.

Mr. Hanly had a historical past of taking over complicated circumstances with huge numbers of plaintiffs. Shortly after the 2001 terrorist assaults, he represented among the households who had misplaced family members on the planes and in the World Trade Center. He additionally filed swimsuit to stop the sale of tanzanite, a uncooked stone used as a money different to fund terrorist actions. That lawsuit was expanded to incorporate overseas governments, banks and others that supported Al Qaeda. Portions of it stay pending.

Another of his essential circumstances was a 2013 landmark settlement of $12 million on behalf of 24 Haitian boys who mentioned that they had been sexually abused by Douglas Perlitz, who ran applications for underprivileged boys and was subsequently sentenced to 19 years in prison. Mr. Hanly mentioned the defendants, together with the Society of Jesus of New England, Fairfield University and others, had not correctly supervised Mr. Perliitz. Mr. Hanly filed additional charges in 2015, bringing the full variety of abused youths to greater than 100 between the late 1990s and 2010.

“Paul was a lawyer’s lawyer,” mentioned Ms. Conroy, his legislation accomplice. She mentioned he was famend for his exhaustive trial preparation, his inventive trial methods and his practically photographic reminiscence of the contents of paperwork.

He was additionally recognized for veering sartorially from the muted grays and blacks of most attorneys to extra jaunty apparel in vibrant yellows, blues and pinks. He favored bespoke styles that had been flashy but subtle. His two-tone footwear had been all handmade.

In a lately revealed e-book in regards to the opioid business, “Empire of Pain,” Patrick Radden Keefe described Mr. Hanly as wanting “like a lawyer in a Dick Tracy cartoon” together with his daring colours and tailor-made shirts with stiff, contrasting collars. But none of this, Mr. Keefe made clear, diminished his aggressive edge.

“Paul was a man of few words and a commanding presence,” mentioned David Nachman, who lately retired from the New York legal professional normal’s workplace, the place he was the lead lawyer on the state’s opioid case and was working with Mr. Hanly to convey the case to trial in Suffolk County.

“When he entered a room, everyone noticed,” Mr. Nachman mentioned by e-mail. “When he spoke, everyone listened, and when he smiled, you knew things would be OK.”

Paul James Hanly Jr. was born in Jersey City, N.J., on April 18, 1951. His father held varied authorities posts, together with deputy warden of the Hudson County Penitentiary and hospital administrator. His mom, Catherine (Kenny) Hanly, was a homemaker.

His household was fairly infamous in New Jersey; some members had been indicted on corruption costs and had served time in jail. These included his maternal grandfather, John V. Kenny, a former mayor of Jersey City and a strong Hudson County Democratic boss often called “the pope of Jersey City,” who was jailed in the 1970s after pleading responsible to costs of revenue tax evasion.

Mr. Hanly took a special path. He went to Cornell, the place his roommate was Ed Marinaro, who went on to play skilled soccer and later turned an actor (greatest recognized for “Hill Street Blues”). Mr. Hanly, who performed soccer with him, graduated in 1972 with a serious in philosophy and acquired a scholar-athlete award because the Cornell varsity soccer senior who mixed the best tutorial common with excellent capacity.

He earned a grasp’s diploma in philosophy from Cambridge University in 1976 and a legislation diploma from Georgetown in 1979. He then clerked for Lawrence A. Whipple, a U.S. District Court choose in New Jersey.

Mr. Hanly’s marriage in the mid-1980s to Joyce Roquemore ended in divorce. He is survived by two sons, Paul J. Hanly III and Burton J. Hanly; a daughter, Edith D. Hanly; a brother, John Ok. Hanly; and a sister, Margo Mullady.

He started his authorized profession as a nationwide trial counsel and settlement counsel to Turner & Newall, a British asbestos firm, one of many world’s largest, in its product-liability circumstances. The firm was bought by an American agency, Federal-Mogul, in 1998, after which it was overwhelmed with asbestos claims and filed for chapter in 2001.

Mr. Hanly and Ms. Conroy spent a lot of their time steeped in negotiations with plaintiffs’ attorneys. They quickly switched to representing plaintiffs themselves.

“We recognized over time that that was more important to us,” Ms. Conroy mentioned, “to make sure victims were compensated for what happened.”

Jan Hoffman contributed reporting.



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