Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman attorney and shareholder R. Brent Wisner will be appearing at Harvard Law School today to discuss the landmark $289.2 million against Monsanto in the first Roundup cancer case to proceed to trial.
Wisner will speak in front of Harvard Law School professor Jon Hanson’s tort law class on Friday afternoon. The discussion is open for other Harvard Law School students to attend.
Each year, Prof. Hanson brings in one or more lawyers working on notable torts cases to address students about a given case, their work, and their general observations about tort law and the legal profession.
“It’s one of the many ways that I try to overcome the strong stereotypes and myths about tort law and encourage students to begin thinking about how to orient their legal education toward careers that will make the world a better place,” says Prof. Hanson.
Brent Wisner was co-lead trial counsel in the case of Dewayne “Lee” Johnson v. Monsanto Company. Johnson, a former groundskeeper in Northern California, alleged exposure to Monsanto’s glyphosate-based herbicides caused him to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma. His case was the first of more than 8,000 similar cases to proceed to trial, in part, due to his failing health.
During the eight-week trial, Wisner told the jury Monsanto has known for decades about studies showing Roundup and glyphosate exposure causes DNA damage. In 1999, Monsanto had four such studies reviewed and analyzed internally by a paid consultant who agreed that glyphosate caused DNA damage and therefore could lead to cancer.
Rather than pursuing further study on the issue or reporting the consultant’s findings to regulators, Monsanto buried the review and ghostwrote a different story that conveyed there was no link to cancer. According to Wisner, that review has misled the world for nearly 20 years.
After weeks of listening to highly-technical testimony from both sides, the jury awarded Mr. Johnson $39.2 million in compensatory damages and $250 million in punitive damages, finding that Monsanto acted with malice, oppression or fraud and should be punished for its conduct.
“We were finally able to show the jury the secret, internal Monsanto documents proving that Monsanto has known for decades that glyphosate and specifically Roundup could cause cancer,” Wisner said at a press conference following the verdict.
“Despite the Environmental Protection Agency’s failure to require labeling, we are proud that an independent jury followed the evidence and used its voice to send a message to Monsanto that its years of deception regarding Roundup is over and that they should put consumer safety first.”
Wisner and the law firm of Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman represent nearly 1,000 plaintiffs in Monsanto Roundup cases in state and federal courts. The next Monsanto trial is scheduled to begin on Feb. 5, 2019, in St. Louis Circuit Court for the State of Missouri. The case is Ronald Peterson and Jeff Hall v. Monsanto Company (Case No. 1622-CC01071).
About R. Brent Wisner
Brent Wisner is an attorney and shareholder in the Los Angeles office of Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman. A native of Los Angeles, Brent is driven by a deep-rooted passion for using the law to help people who have been wronged by corporations.
Brent concentrates his practice on pharmaceutical class action litigation, toxic-tort injuries, whistleblower claims, and consumer fraud litigation. He also oversees the firm’s Medicare Secondary Payer cases, representing Medicare providers who lost taxpayer funds to pharmaceutical companies and other large defendants.
This year, Brent was selected as one of the “Top 100 Lawyers in California” by the Daily Journal and a “Titan of the Plaintiffs Bar” by Law360.