“We have created an environment at Baum Hedlund where we are not just doing a job—we tend to work for causes that go beyond the lawsuits themselves. That lends an extra dimension and an added layer of satisfaction to what we are doing. This dovetails with the firm’s stated mission: ‘To provide expert legal services that successfully resolve transportation and consumer harm cases and improve safety by increasing public awareness of the wrongdoing, corruption and unsafe practices that caused them.’ ”
Michael L. Baum is the senior managing partner of Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman. He has successfully led the firm through thousands of wrongful death and personal injury cases stemming from major pharmaceutical drug catastrophes, harmful consumer products, and commercial transportation mass disasters.
“Some of our staff were friends long before they started working here and they remain friends after almost three decades of working together. They actually like each other and enjoy making a difference in the lives of others. One of my favorite quotes, which I like to recite to my staff, sums up the work environment we’ve created at the firm: ‘In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun, and – SNAP – the job’s a game!’”
Award-Winning Pharmaceutical Litigation Team
Under Michael’s leadership, Baum Hedlund has developed a reputation as a law firm that can be counted upon to go above and beyond what is needed to get the job done, a firm that has successfully litigated personal injury, wrongful death and consumer fraud cases against major pharmaceutical companies such as Alpha Therapeutic, Armour Pharmaceutical Co., Baxter Health Care Corp, Bayer Corp., Dalkon Corporation, Eli Lilly, Forest Labs, GlaxoSmithKline, and Pfizer.
In 1999, Michael served on the trial team in the only Hemophiliac AIDS case to go before a jury. Michael and the trial team represented Leo and Shirley Dixon, whose son, Ken Dixon, contracted the HIV virus and AIDS allegedly as a result of using hemophilia medication contaminated with HIV.
Evidence presented at trial showed the medication Ken Dixon used was plasma‑derived medication contaminated from the use of high-risk donors with the HIV virus. The jurors found that two of the medication manufacturers, Cutter Biological and Alpha Therapeutics, were strictly liable for product liability, negligence, and fraud. The jurors further found that after Ken Dixon initially was infected with the AIDS virus (which was not known to him at the time), the continued use of the contaminated products further aggravated Ken’s condition, exacerbating and accelerating the development of AIDS. The jury awarded Leo and Shirley Dixon $35.3 million in survival and wrongful death damages. Although the judge overturned the verdict based on a technical issue, the verdict provided essential justice for not only the Dixon family but for hemophiliacs across the country who have suffered and died as a result of their HIV-infected medication.
In the wake of this groundbreaking verdict, The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 recognized Michael and his team as the 2019 Trial Team of the Year in the Mass Torts category.
The second Roundup lawsuit to proceed to trial, Hardeman v. Monsanto Company, resulted in an $80 million jury verdict. In May of 2019, the third Roundup cancer trial culminated in a historic $2.055 billion verdict in favor of a Bay Area couple who alleged years of exposure to Roundup weed killer caused them to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Holding Companies Responsible for Aviation Disasters
In addition, his firm is known for successfully resolving major transportation disaster cases against companies such as Airbus, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Amtrak, Bell Helicopter Co., Beechcraft, Boeing, Cessna, China Eastern Airlines, Continental Airlines, Delta Airlines, EgyptAir, Ford Motor Co., McDonnell Douglas, Piper, Robinson Helicopter Co., Sikorsky, SwissAir, TACA Airlines, TWA, United Airlines, and US Airways, among many others.
As part of the plaintiffs’ trial team for families who lost loved ones in the United 232 Sioux City, Iowa, crash, Michael found the smoking gun document that showed General Electric’s engineers’ graphs predicting the next DC 10 engine failure, which happened to be the date of the United 232 crash five years later.
“Rigorously investigating and litigating the types of devastating cases we handle on a daily basis requires relentless focus and dedication to our clients’ causes. Approaching things from the perspective that every problem has an optimum solution waiting to be apprehended simplifies our team’s outlook on every aspect of each case we handle.”
Michael was invited to speak before governmental and regulatory entities on several occasions concerning serious health hazards exposed, in part, due to his firm’s litigation. He testified in Brussels at a public hearing before the European Parliament’s Special Committee Hearing on the EU’s authorization procedure for pesticides (PEST), concerning environment impacts of pesticides, including Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer. He and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. delivered the keynote address to members of the European Green Party at the start of their pesticides hearing during that same trip. He and his partner, R. Brent Wisner, also briefed members of Parliament of Canada’s Green Party about the first Roundup cancer verdict we helped obtain, as well as the evidence we presented at that trial.
Medical officials from foreign governments in countries such as Ireland, Japan, Russia, and Taiwan have sought Michael’s advice and assistance with their countries’ public policies concerning consumer drug safety. They’ve done so after becoming aware of Michael’s impressive understanding of biomedical research, clinical trials, statistics, the pharmaceutical industry and marketing, as well as his firm’s successful and effective discovery procedures and extensive work with experts on complicated scientific issues related to Baum Hedlund’s pharmaceutical litigation.
Among his many achievements, accomplished with the help of his team, Michael is most proud of:
Being recognized, along with his firm, as a national leader in the antidepressant Paxil, Prozac, and Zoloft suicide litigation;
Working to bring about the black box suicidality warning for children and young adults, now on most antidepressant labels;
Helping spur funding for the Ricky Ray Hemophilia Relief Fund Act of 1998, which was made part of the negotiated settlement to help scores of hemophiliacs infected with HIV by contaminated medication;
Arranging for the face-to-face presentation between pharmaceutical company executives and dozens of hemophiliac families that got to say, person by person, holding before and after photos of themselves or departed loved ones, how the hemophilia-AIDS epidemic, and the manner in which the companies caused and covered it up, impacted their lives;
Being one of the leaders in the fight against federal preemption, a doctrine pushed by the pharmaceutical industry to wipe out consumers’ rights to sue drug companies for injuries caused by their drugs (Preemption was finally defeated in 2009 with the Supreme Court’s ruling in Wyeth v. Levine);
Creating the first class action ever filed against an SSRI-antidepressant manufacturer, ending with the successful resolution of more than 3,000 Paxil injury cases;
Finding “needles in haystacks” and “smoking guns” in document productions, such as GE engineers’ graphs predicting the next DC 10 engine failure which mirrored the date of the United 232 crash five years later, an internal study linking SSRIs to cardio birth defects, or documentation of company programs to ghostwrite medical journal articles for academic opinion leaders to give the appearance of objective science when actually serving marketing objectives to increase prescriptions, i.e. disguised advertising;
Negotiating the first official public apology by an airline for the 2003 Air Midwest Flt. 5481 Charlotte, North Carolina crash;
Eliminating California law that protected tobacco companies from lawsuits. For many years, the statute of limitations was considered to begin to run from the date the plaintiff knew or should have known that he/she was addicted to tobacco. This effectively barred plaintiffs, many of whom began smoking in their teens, from suing. Now, the statute of limitations runs when the plaintiff’s physical injuries are (or reasonably could be) discovered;
Developing a rigorous, skillful, and technical method for locating hard-to-find manufacturer documents in order to successfully litigate against major pharmaceutical companies, positioning his firm as a leader in the fight to increase public health and safety;
Creating coalitions of activists, attorneys, and Baum Hedlund staff, who work together to resolve global problems caused by harmful and defective drugs, which no individual could accomplish alone.
“We have adopted Margaret Mead’s philosophy, ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.’”
Michael has served on numerous trial teams and plaintiffs’ steering committees in mass tort litigation involving pharmaceutical product liability cases as well as major airline crashes.
He has an AV® 5.0 out of 5 Peer Review Rating through Martindale Hubbell, and is listed in The Best Lawyers in America®, Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers, Southern California Super Lawyers, Who’s Who in American Law, and Aviation Counsel Magazine’s List of Recommended High Flyers.
In his spare time, Michael enjoys spending time with his family, playing foosball, softball, volleyball, and boogie boarding.
University of California, Los Angeles (B.A., summa cum laude, 1982)
University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law (J.D., 1985)
U.S. District Court, Central District of California, 1986
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California, 1989
U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, 1989
U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, 1990
U.S. District Court, Western District of Michigan, 1991
U.S. Supreme Court, 1991
District of Columbia, 1993
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio, 1993
U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit, 1996
U.S. District Court, Northern District of New York, 1996
U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit, 1997
U.S. District Court, Western District of New York, 2009
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin, 2009
U.S. Court of Appeals, First Circuit, 2013
Video Clips: Michael L. Baum
Mike Papantonio speaks with attorney, Michael Baum, about what the maker of the drug, GlaxoSmithKline, knew about the increased suicide risks associated with the drug.
Roundup Attorney Michael Baum and Farmer John Barton Discuss Effects of Glyphosate
Documentary Filmmakers Interview Prominent Attorney About the Dangers of Antidepressants | Read More
Aviation Counsel Magazine’s List of Recommended High Flyers, believed by the International Air Transport Association’s Legal Dept. to be one of the most elite lists of aviation law practitioners ever produced
National Air Disaster Foundation Safety Award, 2002
American Association for Justice: Leader’s Forum; Qui Tam Litigation Group; Actos Bladder Cancer Litigation Group; Section on Toxic, Environmental, and Pharmaceutical Torts (STEP); Talcum Powder/Ovarian Cancer Litigation Group
Topic: “Disease Mongering and Scientific Misconduct” Organization: Santa Monica College Department: Visiting Lecturer in the Department of Philosophy and Social Sciences Location: Santa Monica, California Date: December 8, 2014
Topic: Actos Bladder Cancer Litigation Status Update Panel Topic: Mass Torts: Status Update On Drug And Medical Device Litigation Organization: Consumer Attorneys of California Event:CAOC 52nd Annual Convention Location: San Francisco, California Date: November 14-17, 2013
Topic: Litigation Update and Trial Analysis Roundtable: “Actos Trial Analysis” Organization: AAJ Plaintiff Trial Lawyers and presented with Mass Torts Made Perfect Event: AAJ Education’s Plaintiff-Only Pharmaceuticals and Medical Device Litigation Update Seminar Location: Louisville, Kentucky Date: May 28 – 29, 2013
Topic: “Case Theories, Challenges and Case Selection Considerations for Your Actos Inventory” Organization: HB Litigation Conferences Event: Plaintiff Forum on Pharmaceutical Litigation, Transvaginal Mesh, Actos, and Orthopedic Devices Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Date: October 5, 2012
Briefing before Parliament of Canada’s Green Party of Canada about the $289M Monsanto Roundup cancer verdict and the Monsanto Papers at Parliament Hill, Ottawa, January 30, 2019
European Parliament’s Special Committee Hearing on the EU’s authorization procedure for pesticides (PEST), Public Hearing on” Environmental Impacts of Pesticides, including Mitigation Measures at Member State Level” and “Stakeholders Recommendations on the Current EU Regulation on the Approval of PPP” at Brussels, Belgium, September 6, 2018
Keynote address to European Green Party, Greens Complementary Hearing on Pesticides on the consequential effects that pesticides have on human health and the environment at Brussels, Belgium, September 5, 2018
Taiwan’s Ministry of Health emergency meeting regarding hemophilia HIV contaminated medication, February 18, 2004
Dorsett v. Sandoz, Inc., 699 F.Supp.2d 1142 (C.D.Cal. 2010) (denying defendants’ preemption motion and holding that both name-brand and generic drug manufacturers have an affirmative duty to issue warnings)
Mason v. SmithKline Beecham Corp., 596 F.3d 387 (7th Cir. 2010) (unanimously reversing the trial court’s preemption ruling and allowing plaintiffs’ claims to proceed to a trial on the merits)
Collins v. SmithKline Beecham Corp., 2008 WL 744070 (Pa. Ct.Com.Pl. March 11, 2008)
Grisham v. Philip Morris USA, 482 F. 3d 1131 (9th Cir. 2007)
Grisham v. Philip Morris USA, 40 Cal.4th 623, 151 P.3d 1151, 54 Cal.Rptr.3d 735 (2007)
Grisham v. Philip Morris USA, 403 F. 3d 631 (9th Cir. 2005)
Smith v. Cutter Biological, 770 So. 2d 392 (La. App. 4th Cir. 2000)
In re Air Crash at Charlotte, N.C. on July 2, 1994, 982 F.Supp. 1092 (Dist. South Carolina 1997)
In re Air Crash at Charlotte, N.C. on July 2, 1994, 982 F.Supp. 1086 (Dist. South Carolina 1997)
In re Air Crash at Charlotte, N.C. on July 2, 1994, 982 F.Supp. 1084 (Dist. South Carolina 1997)
Ex parte Knight Ridder, Inc., 982 F.Supp. 1080 (Dist. South Carolina 1997)
In re Air Crash at Charlotte, N.C. on July 2, 1994, 982 F.Supp. 1071 (Dist. South Carolina 1995)
In re Air Crash at Charlotte, N.C. on July 2, 1994, 982 F.Supp. 1060 (Dist. South Carolina 1996)
In re Air Crash at Charlotte, N.C. on July 2, 1994, 982 F.Supp. 1056 (Dist. South Carolina 1996)
In re Air Crash at Charlotte, N.C. on July 2, 1994, 982 F.Supp. 1052 (Dist. South Carolina 1995)