40 Under Forty 2023

J ulia Zousmer isn’t afraid to tackle the most complex of product lia- bility and mass tort defense cases. And she’s built a history of earn- ing winning results for her clients in these matters. It’s little surprise, then, that so many big-name clients trust their most sensitive legal issues to her. A good example is Zousmer’s work as national counsel in the head- line-grabbing Zantac litigation, including the multidistrict litigation (MDL) consolidated in Florida district court, and tens of thousands of cases outside the MDL in state courts nationwide. As part of this work, Zousmer participated in the creation of the MDL registry, which at its peak included more than 150,000 unfiled claimants alleging numerous different types of cancer as a result of taking the antacid medication, Zantac. Zousmer played a key part in developing and implementing the processes that reduced the number of claims in the registry and ultimately doomed the approximately 50,000 such claims remaining in the MDL and registry upon the MDL Court’s order excluding all of plaintiffs’ general causation experts and granting sum- mary judgment for Defendants. “I have witnessed first-hand Julia’s ability to grasp the complex medi- cal and scientific issues in cases, working closely with experts and break- ing down the issues to make it manageable for the judges and jury,” said Teri Peeples, director of litigation with Organon. “She has been suc- cessful in trials for some of the most difficult products and in the most challenging venues..” Other of her fellow legal professionals pointed to Zousmer’s strategic acumen and top negotiating skills as key reasons for her success. And outside of the courtroom, she has been a willing mentor and leader for younger attorneys while devoting her time to community organizations inside and outside the law. In another major case, Zousmer played an integral role in defending Merck against claims that its osteoporosis medicine Fosamax caused side effects such as atypical femur fractures. Andrew Rima with Chicago’s Goldman Ismail Tomaselli Brennan & Baum worked with Zousmer on this litigation as co-counsel and saw first-hand how the contributions she made brought about a successful result for her client. And this was no small matter. Instead, it was what Rima called a giant litigation that included hundreds of cases from across the country. “The trial was a resounding victory for Merck, and Julia was a large part of that success,” Rima said. “She knew the facts and law better than anyone.” When not representing her clients, Zousmer serves on the Board of Friends of Prentice, the fundraising arm of Northwestern’s Prentice Women’s Hospital, and is a member of the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois and International Association of Defense Counsel. She is a frequent speaker on all issues related to product liability, mass torts and MDLs. “Julia has developed into a star in the national products liability bar, a rarity for someone under 40,” said Joe Petrosinelli, chairman of Williams & Connolly.


AGE 37

FIRM King & Spalding

LAW SCHOOL Fordham University School of Law

AREA OF PRACTICE Product liability and mass tort defense


She has been successful in trials for some of the most difficult products and in the most challenging venues.”



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