Joanne is an experienced civil litigator who specializes in complex commercial matters in both state and federal court, primarily representing plaintiffs. Joanne’s practice focuses on public client litigation, health care fraud, class actions, commercial disputes, community advocacy, consumer protection, breach of contract and false claims.
Prior to founding The Cicala Law Firm, PLLC in October 2017, Joanne was one of five equal managing partners of the firm Kirby McInerney, LLP based in New York City and founded more than 65 years ago. Joanne practiced with Kirby for over 16 years concentrating on Medicaid fraud, consumer fraud, class actions, antitrust and securities fraud matters. Joanne established Kirby McInerney’s Texas office in 2003 and managed it thereafter. She also established and managed Kirby McInerney’s health care practice. Prior to Kirby McInerney, Joanne worked as a litigation associate with the firm now known as Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf, also in New York City.
Joanne has substantial experience representing public entities who have been defrauded or otherwise harmed by corporate wrongdoers. She currently serves as a Special Assistant Attorney General to the States of Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, Montana, Mississippi and South Carolina on matters related to unfair and deceptive trade practices in the health care space, and Insulin price gouging in particular. Joanne has also served as Special Counsel to the State of Iowa, Special Assistant Attorney General to the State of Michigan and lead counsel for the City of New York and 43 New York counties. Joanne represented these public clients on protracted matters involving violations of their respective State False Claims Acts by prescription drug manufacturers. These cases ultimately returned hundreds of millions of dollars to the states’ Medicaid Programs. Notable decisions include the award of partial summary judgment to the New York plaintiffs; the determination that the Attorney General of the State of Iowa could bring a claim under the Iowa UDAP Statute; and, the determination that the State of Michigan had successfully pled a cause for money damages under its new Medicaid False Claims Act.
Joanne currently represents Webb County, Texas, Jefferson and Franklin County, Missouri, Jefferson County, New York, the Towns of Bennington, Brattleboro, and Sharon, Vermont, and over 60 Virginia municipalities in active litigation concerning the opioid epidemic. In those cases, which are proceeding in both federal and state court, Joanne has named the opioid manufacturers, distributors, pharmacies (national chain and mail-order) and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) as defendants. Joanne was the first attorney in the country to include PBMs among the corporate entities complicit in creating this national public health crisis. Her theories of liability as to the PBMs have now been embraced by plaintiffs nationwide and have received favorable treatment by the Federal Court presiding over the Opioid MDL. In September 2018, Joanne filed a motion for injunctive relief in that MDL, requesting that Judge Polster enter an order directing the PBMs to immediately adjust their standard national formularies to be consistent with current federal guidance regarding opioids. The negotiated resolution of that motion produced meaningful edits to national default formularies.
Joanne also has extensive experience representing state and national classes, individuals, private companies and unions in both litigation and arbitration contexts. Joanne also advises clients on litigation avoidance strategies and alternative dispute resolution.