Janet Gilligan Abaray acts as managing shareholder for the Cincinnati office of Burg Simpson Eldredge Hersh & Jardine, P.C. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from the University of Cincinnati, graduating Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude. She graduated Order of the Coif from the University of Cincinnati School of Law where she was Business Manager of the Law Review. She is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court, Supreme Court of Ohio, United States Courts of Appeals for the Third, Sixth, Tenth, and Eleventh Circuits, and the United States District Courts for the Northern and Southern Districts of Ohio and the Southern District of Illinois.
Ms. Abaray has litigated extensively in the area of pharmaceutical products liability, beginning her career as defense counsel for Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in the Bendectin products liability class action and multidistrict litigation (MDL), where she acted as third-chair trial counsel for claims alleging birth defects from exposure to Bendectin during pregnancy. Since 1987 she has represented plaintiffs in many over-the-counter and prescription drug cases, including the L-Tryptophan MDL, the Copley Albuterol class action litigation, where she acted as co-lead trial counsel, and the Fen-Phen/Redux diet pill class action and MDL, where she acted as lead trial counsel for plaintiffs at the Interneuron class action fairness hearing. Ms. Abaray was appointed as Plaintiffs’ Liaison Counsel and a member of the Plaintiffs’ Coordinating Committee for the Ephedra Products Liability Multidistrict Litigation in the Southern District of New York and acted as Co-Lead Counsel for Plaintiffs in the Ortho Evra Birth Control Patch Multidistrict Litigation in the Northern District of Ohio. She has served as a member of the Plaintiffs Executive Committee in the Heparin Products Liability Multidistrict Litigation in the Northern District of Ohio, and as co-chair of the Yasmin Multi-district Litigation Science Committee in the Southern District of Illinois. In 2016, she was appointed Co-Lead Counsel in the Depakote Products Liability Litigation in the Southern District of Illinois. She currently participates on a trial team representing the Commonwealth of Kentucky in consumer litigation involving a pharmaceutical product.
Ms. Abaray also represents plaintiffs in many insurance and contract disputes. She was the co-lead trial counsel on behalf of 8000 farmers in the Chubb drought insurance class action litigation, participated as trial counsel on behalf of 2000 Cincinnati-area physicians in the ChoiceCare HMO litigation, and represented Cincinnati-area newspaper carriers in consolidated actions against the Cincinnati Enquirer. She represented 40,000 season-ticket holders of the Cincinnati Bengals football team in a successful class action concerning their seat licenses in Paul Brown Stadium, and represented the Club Seat Holders in a second successful class action against the Cincinnati Bengals. Ms. Abaray has established a national precedent in the area of employment discrimination, successfully arguing in litigation against Ernst & Young to broaden the scope of persons protected by the federal age discrimination statute to include those with the title of partner. She also represents corporate executives in contract negotiations and severance matters and recently won a verdict on behalf of a hospital-executive accused of violating federal health care compliance laws. In addition to obtaining multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements in class actions and individual matters, she has successfully conducted Daubert hearings in many multi-district litigation proceedings, and has briefed and argued numerous cases on appeal.
From 2012 through 2018, Ms. Abaray served as a member of the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission, which was established by the Ohio legislature to review and recommend changes to the Ohio Constitution and chaired the committee on the Judicial Branch and Administration of Justice. Ms. Abaray was also appointed in 2018 to the Legal Affairs Committee of the American Association of Justice.
Janet Abaray has served as a faculty member of the National Institute of Trial Advocacy and lectures frequently in the areas of products liability litigation, trial techniques, and epidemiology. She has published articles in journals of the American Bar Association, Ohio Academy of Trial Lawyers, American Association for Justice, University of Cincinnati Law Review, and the University of Dayton Law Review. Ms. Abaray has achieved the highest rating from her peers for the quality of legal work, professionalism, and ethics by receiving an “AV” rating by Martindale-Hubbell. Cincinnati Magazine has recognized her as one of the Cincinnati Area’s Top 25 Women Lawyers and top Cincinnati attorneys. She has been named an Ohio Super Lawyer, 2005-2021, and was the featured attorney in Ohio and Kentucky Super Lawyers for 2017. Ms. Abaray has also met the standard of excellence for selection as one of The National Trial Lawyer’s Top 100 Lawyers.
Ms. Abaray has been selected by members of the national legal community as one of the Best Lawyers in America for Mass Tort Litigation since 2011. Best Lawyers publishes a book each year listing those individuals who are recognized as professionals who continue their education in an effort to stay current in their chosen profession and continue to distinguish themselves among their peers. The book is considered to be, professionally, the definitive guide to legal excellence in the United States. Ms. Abaray was chosen as a member of this distinguished group because she has displayed an exemplary commitment to her profession, her community, and to her clients. Ms. Abaray was also named by Best Lawyers® as “Lawyer of the Year” for 2014 and 2021 for Mass Tort Litigation/Class Actions – Plaintiffs, Cincinnati, and Best Lawyers® “Lawyer of the Year 2020,” for Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs, Cincinnati. Ms. Abaray was selected by Best Lawyers® Women in the Law, in 2020 and to Ohio Super Lawyers® every year from 2005-2021. Trial Lawyers Top 100 also recognized her for her excellence in 2020.
In 2014, Ms. Abaray received recognition as the Judge Carl B. Rubin Legal Society Lawyer of the Year. In 2018, she received a Top 15 Business Woman in Ohio award by the National Diversity Council. The University of Cincinnati College of Arts and Sciences recognized Ms. Abaray as its Distinguished Alumni for the 2018-2019 academic year.