William V. Essig



Bill Essig is a trial lawyer who defends pharmaceutical and medical device companies in mass tort and product liability litigation across the country. He has won defense verdicts as trial counsel in federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) and state court products liability litigation. Clients also frequently call on Bill to develop and prepare medical and scientific expert and company witnesses for trial. He also represents clients in commercial and white collar criminal litigation.

Product Liability and Mass Tort

Bill defends strict liability, negligence and wrongful death cases involving prescription and over-the-counter drugs and medical devices. With diverse litigation experience, Bill contributes to product liability trial teams, as well as national coordinating counsel strategy and discovery efforts. Bill recently led a team of partners from several firms to prepare and defend company detail representatives in a pharmaceutical MDL.

Bill has defended manufacturers of antibiotics, anticoagulants, anticonvulsants, antipsychotics, cough and cold medications, and oral contraceptives. Bill has represented makers of medical products such as latex gloves, surgical staplers and clip appliers, knee replacements, orthopedic implants, surgical mesh, contact lenses, vaccines and tampons.

Representative Experience

  • Trial team member defending prescription antipsychotic medication in various products liability actions; co-trial counsel in defense verdict in a pharmaceutical failure-to-warn case in the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia; also involved in expert and company witness depositions on scientific and medical issues
  • Member of trial team and national counsel team defending a prescription fluoroquinolone medication in more than 1,500 cases in a MDL litigation and more than 2,000 cases in state courts; participated in four trials to verdict to date (three defense verdicts); also involved in depositions of expert witnesses, company witnesses, prescribing and treating physicians and plaintiffs
  • Member of national counsel team defending gadolinium-based contrast agents used in magnetic resonance imaging in products liability MDL and state cases; assisted in briefing and other issues
  • Member of national counsel team in latex glove allergy litigation in MDL and more than 30 state courts that obtained defense verdicts in the client’s only two cases tried to verdict; involved in brief writing, witness preparation and taking depositions of plaintiffs, prescribing and treating physicians
  • Defending various individual products liability and wrongful death cases involving prescription and over-the-counter medications, surgical staplers and clip appliers, knee replacements, surgical mesh, contact lenses, vaccines, tampons and other products

General and White Collar Litigation

Bill has served as trial counsel in white collar health care fraud litigation, and he has experience defending general commercial litigation, as well as consumer fraud and other class actions.

Representative Experience

  • Second-chair trial counsel defending a former enteral nutrition products salesman for Fortune Global 200 corporation in a criminal trial involving federal Medicare anti-kickback statute in the Southern District of Illinois, and wrote successful Rule 29 motion for judgment of acquittal, which the Court granted at the conclusion of the government's case-in-chief
  • Member of team representing Big Ten university in highly-publicized wrongful death case brought by Johnnie Cochran on behalf of the family of a football player who died during conditioning drills
  • Represented major pharmaceutical companies in consumer fraud class action cases involving allegations related to product efficacy and advertising claims
  • Represented product manufacturers in benzene and other toxic tort litigation
  • Represented various current and former pharmaceutical marketing professionals in criminal trials and grand jury investigations, as well as representing corporate financial officers in SEC investigations and civil and administrative enforcement proceedings

Faculty Positions

  • Northwestern University School of Law — Adjunct Professor, Complex Litigation seminar, 1998-2008

Personal Interests

Prior to law school, Bill was a financial reporter and editor for the AP-Dow Jones International News Service in New York City. At Yale, Bill was the editor-in-chief of the Yale Daily News.

Related Industries


Bar Admissions


Court Admissions

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois


U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Hon. John F. Grady, 1997-1998


Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law
J.D. cum laude (1996)

Yale University
B.A. (1992)

Insights & Events

Other Perspectives

Firm Blog Contributions

  • Broker Dealer Law Blog – a resource that provides practical insights on litigation, regulatory, compliance and fiduciary issues impacting broker-dealers
  • Faegre Drinker on Products – a blog addressing all things product liability that covers legal issues and developments of interest to product manufacturers and their employers

Leadership & Community

Pro Bono

  • Pro Bono Service Award (Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, 2014) — for work representing clients referred through the Family Defense Center (now Ascend Justice) in challenging wrongful charges of abuse or neglect by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). As the firm’s coordinator of the Ascend Justice Pro Bono Law Firm program, Bill has led a team of attorneys in obtaining multiple expungements for clients, including after appeal to the Illinois Appellate Court.
  • Court-appointed pro bono counsel for a pretrial detainee at Cook County Jail, who alleged unconstitutional denial of antipsychotic medications by correctional officers led to his suicide attempt.

Professional Associations

  • International Association of Defense Counsel
  • Defense Research Institute (DRI)

Civic Activities

  • Yale University Alumni Fund — Class Agent, 2019-present


  • Faegre Drinker — Pro Bono Honor Roll, 2020-21
Awards Methodology
No aspect of these recognitions has been approved by the highest court of any state.
The Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP website uses cookies to make your browsing experience as useful as possible. In order to have the full site experience, keep cookies enabled on your web browser. By browsing our site with cookies enabled, you are agreeing to their use. Review Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP's cookies information for more details.