Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman is proud to announce that we have won the Law360 Product Liability Practice Group of the Year award in recognition of our successful advocacy on behalf of our clients in several landmark cases.
Law360 considered over 800 applicants from more than 40 legal practice areas for this year’s Practice Group of the Year awards, selecting legal teams responsible for major litigation wins. Our firm was honored for several important case wins in product liability.
Our Firm’s Recent Major Legal Wins
Law360 recognized Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman attorneys for three significant legal wins:
Monsanto (Bayer AG) Roundup Litigation Settlement
Our firm was one of the first in the nation to represent individuals who alleged that Roundup caused them to develop non-Hodgkin's lymphoma — a risk they were never warned of.
Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman attorneys served on the trial teams for all three of these Roundup cancer trials, with the vice president and a senior shareholder of our firm, Attorney R. Brent Wisner, serving as co-lead counsel in Dewayne Johnson v. Monsanto Co. and Pilliod et al. v. Monsanto Co. and delivering opening and closing statements. The three trials culminated in a combined $2.424 billion in jury verdicts for the plaintiffs.
After suffering three consecutive trial losses and engaging in negotiations for more than a year, Bayer AG announced settlement agreements in June of 2020 with Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman and a handful of other law firms. The settlements effectively resolved over 100,000 Roundup cancer suits for a total of about $11 billion, the largest settlement in pharmaceutical history, according to FiercePharma. R. Brent Wisner was an integral part of the settlement negotiations with the German multinational corporation.
Dewayne Johnson v. Monsanto Co. Appeal
The very first of the Roundup cancer lawsuits to proceed to trial was Dewayne Johnson v. Monsanto Co. Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman had the great privilege of co-representing the plaintiff, Dewayne “Lee” Johnson, at trial. Mr. Johnson developed non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and alleged that his exposure to Roundup was the cause of his cancer.
Our attorneys brought the case to a successful outcome for Mr. Johnson with an August 2018 California jury verdict awarding him $39 million in compensatory damages and $250 million in punitive damages. Later, the judge reduced the total damages, which Mr. Johnson accepted.
Following the win, Monsanto filed and lost an appeal in the First Appellate District Court, which upheld the previous verdict that it failed to warn consumers of its product’s dangers and failed to address its product’s defective design.
“This is another major victory for Lee and his family,” Attorney Wisner said in a statement. “Nearly every argument by Monsanto was rejected, including Monsanto’s vaunted preemption defense, and the verdict was upheld.”
In the end, the appellate court concluded that Mr. Johnson’s legal team brought forth an abundance of evidence that showed how Roundup led him to develop cancer, that Johnson’s causes of action were not preempted, and that Monsanto (Bayer) has not established that the trial court erred in admitting or excluding evidence. While the appellate court decided Mr. Johnson was legally entitled to receive punitive damages, the jury award was reduced to $20.5 million in total compensation.
Painters & Allied Trades Dist. Council 82 Health Care Fund v. Takeda Pharm. Co.
Before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, our legal team at Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman argued to reverse a Central District of California court decision that had served to dismiss our firm’s federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) class action lawsuit against Takeda Pharmaceuticals Co. and Eli Lilly & Co.
Filed by a health care fund and consumers from multiple states, the RICO class action alleges Takeda and Eli Lilly intentionally misled consumers and patients by refusing to provide an adequate product warning for Actos (pioglitazone), a drug aimed at lowering blood sugar levels for patients living with type 2 diabetes. Per the complaint, the drug makers refused to change the warning label for Actos or inform the public after learning the drug increased the risk of bladder cancer.
After the Ninth Circuit ruled in favor of our clients, Takeda Pharmaceuticals Co. and Eli Lilly & Co. attempted to appeal the decision to the United States Supreme Court but were rejected in June 2020 when the justices declined to take up the case.
This class action win served as an important step forward for RICO law and paves the way for economically harmed plaintiffs to file civil RICO claims to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable. The availability of a national cause of action that allows for trebled damages can give aggrieved consumers and third-party payers the chance to prevent and discourage economic windfalls made by drug companies at the expense of people’s health.
“This decision should send a clear message to all defendants that RICO is a viable cause of action to remedy pharmaceutical marketing fraud — they will not be able to hide behind doctors anymore,” Attorney Wisner, who served as the lead attorney of this case, said.
An Award-Winning Firm with Award-Winning Results
The Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman legal team is composed of distinguished attorneys who are truly passionate about winning justice for those harmed by large corporations. We have decades of experience handling a vast array of product liability cases and are very honored to receive the Law360 Product Liability Practice Group of the Year award. Not only have we won more than $4 billion in settlements and verdicts for our clients, but we continually push for product safety improvements to prevent the same harm from happening to others in the future.