Robert Roden, partner at Shelby Roden, has achieved the first jury verdict in the nation against an ephedra manufacturer in McClain vs. Metabolife. The verdict was in excess of $4 million. The case is currently on appeal and scheduled for oral argument this August in Atlanta.
Ephedra, a once-popular weight-loss supplement, has been accused of causing heart attacks and strokes. "A lot of people have complained about what ephedra has done to them," Roden says. "Racing heartbeats, high blood pressure. Although that is a problem, these plaintiffs are also dealing with bigger problems, like hemorrhagic strokes and death.” These accusations have opened the door for massive consumer litigation.
Roden, with Shelby Roden LLC, will play a key role in that litigation as one of seven members of the plaintiffs' coordinating counsel committee advising New York district judge Jed Rakoff, under whose authority all federal ephedra cases initially will be consolidated.
The committee will oversee the pre-trial phase, including document discovery, depositions and pre-trial motions. Its members will interview top cardiologists, neurologists and other expert witnesses across the country before sending the cases back to their originating districts as early as next year for trial.
The only southeastern attorney on the committee, Roden has about two-dozen outstanding ephedra cases of his own and expects the total number of plaintiffs will reach into the thousands.
“One day, you will hear on the news that the FDA has banned ephedra,” said Robert Roden in late 2002 during the closing arguments of McClain vs. Metabolife. His prophetic words bore themselves out this April when the Food and Drug Administration instated just such a ban, citing ephedra's potential to cause heart attacks and strokes.