Michael Shepard Quoted in Law360 article on Asbestos Claims

Michael Shepard’s insights were featured in Law 360’s article, Mass. Lawmakers Weigh Ending Asbestos Claims Time Limit.”

“The Massachusetts Legislature is eyeing a sweeping change to the state’s construction tort statute of repose by eliminating an ironclad six-year limit on certain construction-related asbestos claims, something proponents say would fix a “draconian” interpretation of the law that leaves many families without legal options.”

Michael Shepard Law 360 , “The statute of repose was never designed to insulate companies that knowingly and intentionally used a toxic product … knowing that product won’t cause an injury to people until after the statute of repose has expired,” said Mike Shepard of Shepard O’Donnell, whose firm represented the Oliver estate before the SJC in a suit against General Electric and Metropolitan Life Insurance.

“A company like GE could install asbestos products today and be fully free, because no one will get an injury within the statute of repose time frame. It takes decades for your injury to manifest,” Shepard added. “We don’t see any downside to changing this law.”

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Three Shepard O’Donnell Attorneys Recognized in The Best Lawyers in America® 2024

BOSTON, MA, August 21, 2023Shepard O’Donnell, one of the top asbestos personal injury law firms in Massachusetts for 25 years, announces that three of its attorneys were selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® 2024 edition. Published by Woodward/White, Inc., Best Lawyers is considered by many to be the oldest and most respected peer-reviewed publication in the legal profession.

Founder Michael Shepard was recognized in the Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs practice area. Co-Managing Partner Erika O’Donnell was recognized in the Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs and Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions – Plaintiffs practice areas. 

Partner Michael McCann was recognized in Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch® category in the Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs and Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions – Plaintiffs practice areas. The “Ones to Watch” designation recognizes lawyers for outstanding professional excellence who are earlier in their careers. 

Inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America is based on an extensive peer-review process designed to capture the consensus opinion of leading lawyers about the professional abilities of their colleagues within the same geographical and legal practice area. Best Lawyers has been published since 1983 and highlights the top 5% of practicing attorneys in each practice area. Its 2024 selections are featured in the 30th edition of The Best Lawyers in America.


“Would-be mom sues cryogenic storage center over ‘lost’ eggs”- Michael Shepard Quoted

Michael Shepard was quoted in the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly article, “Would-be mom sues cryogenic storage center over ‘lost’ eggs.”

“She tried to have her eggs preserved with the expectation that she would be able to use them later on when she was ready to have a child,” says the plaintiff’s attorney, Michael C. Shepard of Shepard O’Donnell in Boston. “After going through this incredibly stressful and invasive process, she wasn’t able to have her own child later on due to the negligence of the company she contracted with and their partner.”

“I can’t even imagine what that phone call was like,” Shepard says. “When you have nothing but the highest hopes of having a child and having that child be part of your family line, then being told, ‘Sorry, it didn’t work out’ — it must have been crushing for her.”

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Why We Still Need to Worry About Asbestos

Authored by Kelsey McCandless

“So, what do you do?”

Whenever I answer this question and people learn that I work in a law firm specializing in asbestos litigation, I get a lot of curious looks and questions.

I am often asked why I decided to pursue this type of law and why our firm’s work is important to me, especially when “asbestos isn’t even an issue today.” It seems that, for most people, there is no question that asbestos is dangerous and that asbestos exposure can cause cancer, so they often think the work we do should be easy. The reality, however, is more complex. 

It is tempting to dismiss asbestos as a problem of the past. For most of the 1900s, asbestos was widely used in construction materials in the United States because of the fiber’s strength and fireproofing properties. Despite the positive features of asbestos’s durability, scientists soon discovered that the fibers posed a health risk to those exposed. By the mid-1930s, researchers already believed in a link between asbestos fibers and life-threatening respiratory ailments, including mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis. By the 1970s, the hazardous effects of asbestos exposure were widely known and well documented.

In the decades since the initial discoveries of the harmful effects of asbestos exposure, the use of the fiber in building materials has decreased significantly in the U.S.; however, it has never been federally banned. Additionally, even after the dangers of asbestos became broadly known, some companies continued to use products that contained asbestos and failed to protect their workers from exposure. 

Americans continue to feel the effects of the past widespread asbestos use today, as the fibers can take decades to cause health consequences after exposure. The time between first exposure and the development of the disease is estimated to fall between 10 and 50 years. Even 30 years after peak asbestos use in the United States, around 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma yearly. We have seen this firsthand with our clients. 

Modern consumers are also at risk of being exposed to asbestos-contaminated products produced today. For example, earlier this year, Johnson & Johnson stated that it would end the worldwide sale of talc-based Johnson’s Baby Powder in 2023 due in part to discoveries that the product had been contaminated with asbestos into the 2000s. In addition, as recently as 2019, the Food and Drug Administration found the mineral fibers in several makeup products from the retailer Claire’s. 

Despite these revelations and the science-backed research that asbestos causes cancer, there is an ongoing debate in the courtroom about whether and how much asbestos is dangerous. Corporate defendants routinely hire experts to testify that plaintiffs’ exposures to asbestos are not significant enough to contribute to their mesothelioma. They purposefully design defense strategies that manipulate dust disease science to avoid legal liability for the injuries their products cause to workers, consumers, and their family members. 

When so many people assume asbestos is not a threat anymore, knowing the reality can be disheartening. This is why the work we do has meaning for me. When our clients and their family members contact us for help, we empathize with their pain and frustration and do whatever it takes to hold bad actors responsible for harming them.

Our clients are gravely ill due to no fault of their own and suffer from cancer caused by the irresponsibility of companies that did not value workers and their families. Fighting for them is what this work is all about. 

Shepard Law Announces New Firm Leadership and Changes Name to Shepard O’Donnell

Shepard Law Announces New Firm Leadership and Changes Name to Shepard O’Donnell

Shepard Law, one of the top asbestos personal injury law firms in Massachusetts for 25 years, announces that longtime firm attorney, Erika O’Donnell, was appointed co-managing partner to run the firm alongside founder, Michael Shepard. In conjunction with the leadership change, the firm also rebranded to Shepard O’Donnell. 

O’Donnell has been a key member of the Shepard Law team since 2005, when she joined the firm as an associate. Over nearly two decades, she has achieved numerous multi-million-dollar settlements and verdicts in cases involving mesothelioma, lung cancer and other asbestos-related diseases, smoking-related cancers and pharmaceutical drugs and devices. Additionally, she is a role model and mentor to other attorneys and paralegals at the firm. In recognition of her many contributions, O’Donnell was elevated to equity partner in 2019. 

“Erika has worked beside me for many years, helping to build a talented, compassionate legal team,” said Shepard. “She is a fearless advocate for our clients and is a tireless fighter for them and their families. Erika is everything you want a personal injury lawyer to be, and I’m thrilled to have her lead the firm with me.”

O’Donnell’s roots growing up in a blue-collar family from Worcester, Massachusetts steered her toward a career helping sick and injured workers get the compensation they deserve for their illnesses. The opening of the firm’s second office in Worcester in 2017 allowed O’Donnell to return to her hometown and help other local families in that community. She is active in the Worcester Bar Association and is a founding member of a prestigious national group of female toxic-tort litigators. O’Donnell is highly respected by both colleagues and adversaries in the litigation field. 

“As the firm celebrates its 25th anniversary, it is an honor to take on this expanded role,” said O’Donnell. “I’ve always believed it is important to hold large corporations and businesses accountable for their wrong-doings. And, with the personal injury legal sector in Massachusetts becoming more crowded with so-called ‘national firms’ looking to take mesothelioma cases, it’s equally important for clients to understand that having responsive, compassionate and sincere counsel that understands the local court system and who lives and works in the same state is crucial to success. At Shepard O’Donnell, we treat our clients the way we would want to be treated if we were in their shoes.”

Shepard Law made headline news in October 2018 with its victory in the Summerlin v. Philip Morris USA, et al. case (No. 1581CV05255, Mass. Super., Suffolk Co.)—a notable case that brought co-defendants from an asbestos product company and a cigarette manufacturer to trial before a jury. After a five-week trial before the Suffolk Superior Court in Boston, Shepard Law secured a $43 million verdict on behalf of their client. O’Donnell was involved in representing the case on behalf of the Summerlin family.

In addition to the Summerlin case, O’Donnell was involved with an asbestos mesothelioma case involving a chemical engineer who was exposed to asbestos at a large plant in Springfield, Massachusetts. That case was notable in that she was able to successfully identify and bring suit against many defendants that had never been sued before in Massachusetts for their asbestos-containing products. In 2018, O’Donnell also successfully litigated a case involving a client who worked spraying asbestos insulation in buildings as a teenager, and later developed mesothelioma as an adult in his 60s.

O’Donnell is a member of the Massachusetts Bar Association, the Worcester Bar Association, the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys, and the American Association for Justice. She has been recognized by Massachusetts Super Lawyers since 2012.

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