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Matthew Holian

Matt Holian


Matt Holian is a leading strategist in complex, multi-jurisdictional product liability and related lawsuits, particularly federal multi-district litigation (MDL), for which DLA Piper's Product Liability and Mass Tort practice group has been recognized by The Legal 500 as Tier 1 since 2014 and by Chambers as Band 2 or Band 3 since 2015. In those cases, Matt defends his clients from start to finish, beginning with risk assessments before litigation commences and continuing through pretrial discovery, bellwether trials and, ultimately, resolution. As part of DLA Piper's team, Matt has won precedent-setting, litigation-ending victories involving general causation and preemption defenses and, where those defenses are not available, he has led efficient and favorable resolutions that protect his clients' business interests. Matt's MDL cases primarily involve the pharmaceutical, medical device, and chemical industries. He also has litigated cases involving the False Claims Act, consumer fraud, and commercial disputes relating to licensing agreements.

In addition to his litigation practice, Matt also has an active regulatory and enforcement practice, which includes conducting compliance investigations, counseling clients regarding research and development issues (including defending hundreds of claims asserted by patients in clinical trials) and advising life sciences and other clients on a wide range of emerging regulatory issues, such as product labeling, First Amendment challenges to promotional restrictions, real word evidence and value-based contracts. From 2016-2024, Matt served as the Global Co-Chair of DLA Piper's Life Sciences Sector.

Bar admissionsCaliforniaMassachusetts
CourtsAll California state and federal district courtsAll Massachusetts state courtsUnited States Court of Appeals for the Seventh CircuitUnited States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit


Representative of his experience are the following cases:

  • In re Zantac (Ranitidine) Products Liability Litigation, MDL 2924 (SD. Fla.): Serve as co-national counsel for Sanofi in MDL and state court litigation involving thousands of cancer claims and third party payor, medical monitoring, and consumer fraud class actions; obtained exclusion of plaintiffs’ experts’ testimony on general causation, the largest Daubert victory for the defense in history (measured by the number of plaintiffs dismissed) (2022 WL 17480906 (S.D. Fla. Dec. 6, 2022))
  • In re Aqueous Film-Forming Foams Products Liability Litigation, MDL 2873 (D.S.C.): Serve as national counsel for BASF Corporation in actions involving claims of environmental contamination, medical monitoring, and personal injury from PFAS chemicals allegedly due to fire-fighting foam
  • In re Chantix (Varenicline) Marketing, Sales Practices, & Products Liability Litigation (II), MDL 3050 (S.D.N.Y.): Serve as co-national counsel for Pfizer in litigation seeking refunds of purchase of Chantix due to alleged nitrosamine contamination
  • In re Viagra (Sildenafil Citrate) and Cialis (Tadalafil) Products Liability Litigation, MDL 2691 (N.D. Cal.): Co-national counsel for Pfizer in product liability litigation alleging that Viagra and other PDE5 inhibitors cause melanoma; obtained exclusion of plaintiffs’ experts’ testimony on general causation, resulting in summary judgment on all claims for defendants (424 F. Supp. 3d 781 (N.D. Cal. 2020))
  • In re Eliquis Products Liability Litigation, MDL 2754 (S.D.N.Y.): National counsel for Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and Pfizer in product liability litigation alleging that Eliquis causes bleeding, in which the DLA Piper team obtained landmark rulings finding that plaintiffs’ claims were preempted at the pleading stage (Utts v. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., 226 F. Supp. 3d 166, 177 (S.D.N.Y. 2016) ("Utts I"); Utts v. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., 251 F. Supp. 3d 644, 658 (S.D.N.Y. 2017) ("Utts II")). The MDL decisions were affirmed on appeal (Gibbons v. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., No. 17-2638, 2d Cir. Mar. 26, 2019), a ruling the Drug & Device Law Blog called "the TwIqbal decision to end all TwIqbal decisions" in the preemption context and noted, "If anyone wonders why we consider preemption our side’s most powerful defense, Gibbons is Exhibit A."
  • In re Proton Pump Inhibitor Products Liability Litigation, MDL 2789 (D.N.J.): National counsel for Pfizer and Wyeth in product liability litigation alleging that proton pump inhibitors Protonix and Nexium 24HR (OTC) cause chronic kidney disease and other kidney injuries
  • Talc Product Liability Litigation: National counsel for BASF Catalysts LLC in nationwide litigation involving personal injuries allegedly caused by talc
  • Tecfidera Litigation: Counsel for Biogen in personal injury suits involving MS medication
  • In re Testosterone Replacement Therapy Products Liability Litigation, MDL 2545 (N.D. Ill.): National counsel for Pfizer and Pharmacia & Upjohn in product liability litigation involving testosterone replacement therapies; obtained orders dismissing all claims against clients, including failure-to-warn and design claims on basis of impossibility preemption, which were affirmed by 7th Circuit (Guilbeau v. Pfizer Inc., 2018 WL 476343 (7th Cir. Jan. 19, 2018))
  • In re Chantix (Varenicline) Products Liability Litigation, MDL 2092 (N.D. Ala.): Appointed by MDL court as Defendants' Liaison Counsel in product liability litigation involving Chantix, an aid to smoking cessation treatment; obtained ruling that label was adequate as a matter of law (In re Chantix (Varenicline) Prods. Liab. Litig., 881 F. Supp. 2d 1333 (N.D. Ala. 2012))
  • Pepe v. Genzyme Corporation et al. (D. Mass.): Represented Genzyme in putative class action relating to DNA testing services
  • In re Prempro Products Liability Litigation, 738 F. Supp. 2d 887 (E.D. Ark. 2010): Obtained ruling excluding plaintiffs’ experts’ opinion that estrogen-only hormone therapy causes breast cancer
  • In re Bextra and Celebrex Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation,MDL No. 1699 (N.D. Cal.): Defended Pfizer in product liability and consumer fraud litigation involving selective COX-2 inhibitors; obtained exclusion of any expert opinions that Celebrex causes heart attacks and strokes at the most commonly prescribed dose (524 F.Supp. 2d 1166 (N.D. Cal. 2007)), which CNN.Money called "one of the most important 'gatekeeping' rulings ever rendered in a mass-tort case"; oversaw resolution program for thousands of cases
  • Represented Pfizer in securities class action involving disclosures related to COX-2 inhibitors
  • Baycol Litigation: Defended Bayer in product liability litigation involving Baycol, a prescription cholesterol-lowering medication; served on six trial teams in three states
  • Buckingham v. Bayer Corporation (San Diego Superior Court): Obtained dismissal with prejudice of putative consumer fraud litigation against Bayer involving Aleve on preemption grounds
  • Defended a clinical research organization in suits alleging breach of contract, conversion and trade secret misappropriation.
  • Represented students with special needs in proceedings against school districts relating to Individualized Education Programs, with a focus on children with autism spectrum disorder
  • J.D., Stanford University 2000
    Order of the Coif
    Teaching Assistant, Federal Litigation
    Associate Editor, Stanford Law Review
    Senior Editor, Stanford Law and Policy Review
    Co-President, Stanford Law Students Association
  • B.A., Harvard University 1995
    Social Studies
    Phi Beta Kappa
    Truman Scholar
    magna cum laude


Chambers USA

  • Band 4, Nationwide Product Liability & Mass Torts (2020-2023) 
  • Band 5, Nationwide Product Liability & Mass Torts (2017-2019) 
  • Up and Coming, Nationwide Product Liability & Mass Torts (2015-2016) 

The Legal 500 United States

  • Leading Lawyer, Product Liability, Mass Tort and Class Action: Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices - Defense (2022-2023)
  • Recommended, Healthcare: Life Sciences (2017-2023) 
  • Recommended, Product Liability, Mass Tort and Class Action: Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices - Defense (2018-2019, 2021) 
  • Recommended, Product Liability, Mass Tort and Class Actions: Toxic Tort - Defense (2017-2019) 
  • Next Generation Partner, Product Liability, Mass Tort and Class Action: Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices - Defense (2017) 
Additional Recognitions
  • BTI Client Service All-Star (2022)
  • Since 2018, Matt has been selected for inclusion in Who's Who Legal: Life Sciences for Product Liability


  • Vincent Montalto, Gwen Keyes Fleming, & Matthew Holian, "Overly Broad PFAS Regulations Bring Costs for Companies," Law360, 19 August 2022
  • Saher Valiani & Matthew Holian, "Big Data, Social Media Trigger More Life Sciences Mass Torts," Law360, 9 December 2019
  • Matthew Holian & Katie Insogna, "Massachusetts Supreme Court recognizes brand-name pharmaceutical makers owe duty to consumers of generic medications," DLA Piper Litigation Alert, Mar. 19, 2018
  • Matthew Holian, Melissa Whitney, & Andrew Gilbert, "How To Navigate Pharma Collaboration and Licensing Agreements," Life Science Leader (LSL), Feb. 1, 2017
  • Matthew Holian & Jessica Wilson, "Mitigating Litigation Risk: Steps Every Small Biotech Company Should Consider," Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News, Oct. 3, 2016
  • John Hillebrecht, Rebecca Jones McKnight, James N. Czaban & Matt Holian, "The writing’s on the wall: wise pharma companies will heed FDA warning in new draft guidance on data integrity cGMPs," DLA Piper Client Alert, May 2, 2016
  • Matthew Holian, Dov Rothman, & David Toniatti, "A Modified Approach to Random Selection of Bellwether Cases," BNA Product Safety & Liability Reporter, July 6, 2015
  • Matthew Holian, Loren Brown, & Dov Rothman, "Random Selection Is Best for MDL Bellwether Trials," Law360, Oct. 21, 2014
  • Loren H. Brown, Matthew A. Holian, & Arindam Ghosh, "Bellwether Trial Selection In Multi-District Litigation: Empirical Evidence In Favor of Random Selection," 47 AKRON L. REV. 663, 2014
  • Matthew Holian & Jessica Wilson, "Clinical Trial Data Sharing and its Potential Litigation Impact,"InsideCounsel, Sept. 23, 2014
  • Loren H. Brown & Matthew Holian, "Bellwether Trial Selection in Multi-District Litigation: Empirical Evidence in Favor of Random Selection," DLA Piper Litigation Alert (US), Sep. 9, 2014


  • "Latest Developments on the Status of Preemption Law: Emerging Theories, Express Preemption, and Innovator Liability," ACI: Drug & Medical Device Litigation, Dec. 2017
  • "Clinical Trials 101: From Phase 1 to Phase 4 in 60 Minutes," Client CLE, Mar. 2016
  • "Preemption Developments in Pharmaceutical Litigation," Client CLE, Dec. 2015
  • "Interpreting Clinical Trial Data: What In-House Lawyers Need to Know," Client CLE, July 2015
  • "Attorney-Client Privilege and Work Product Protection in the U.S. & Abroad: Best Practices for Navigating Different Rules Around the World," Client CLE, Jan. 2015

Clerkships and Other Relevant Professional Experience

  • Law Clerk to Hon. Charles R. Breyer, US District Court for Northern District of California (2000 – 2001)
  • Extern to Hon. Napoleon A. Jones, US District Court for the Southern District of California (1998)
  • Teaching Experience: Matt has taught, co-taught or prepared lectures on the following topics for courses at Harvard Law School and Yale Law School: (1) the regulatory system governing pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device companies; (2) how to litigate complex multi-jurisdictional product liability suits, including the coordination of these cases with related litigation such as government investigations, securities litigation, trade secret litigation and putative class actions; (3) the use of scientific data and other expert evidence in complex litigation; (4) the selection of plaintiffs for bellwether trials in mass torts; (5) the resolution of mass torts; and (6) the role of lawyers as strategic advisors.

Memberships And Affiliations

  • Member of Law360's 2021 Life Sciences Editorial Board
  • Boston Bar Association (2006 – present)
  • Defense Research Institute (2003 – present)