The Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman team is pleased to announce that Law360 has selected vice president and senior shareholder R. Brent Wisner for the 2020 Law360 MVP of the Year award in Product Liability. Mr. Wisner received the award in recognition of his outstanding work in the Monsanto Roundup litigation and landmark verdicts in cases proving that exposure to Roundup, a weed killer developed by Monsanto (now Bayer), caused the plaintiffs to develop cancer.
Over the summer, Bayer AG, which acquired Monsanto in 2018, announced settlement agreements with various law firms which would resolve more than 100,000 Roundup cancer claims. Mr. Wisner was an integral part of the settlement negotiations with Bayer. The $10.9 billion settlement agreement was reported as the largest in pharma history by Fierce Pharma.
Law360 stated in their announcement that it chose 189 top attorneys from 76 law firms in 38 practice areas. They mentioned that the competition was fierce this year with editors choosing these elite attorneys among 900.
Attorney Wisner served on the trial teams for the first three Roundup cancer lawsuits to go before juries. He was co-lead counsel and delivered the opening and closing statements in two of the three cases: Johnson v. Monsanto Co.and Pilliod et al. v. Monsanto Co. In the only case where Mr. Wisner was not co-lead (Hardeman v. Monsanto Co.), he presented a key expert and cross-examined key corporate witnesses. These trials culminated in massive jury verdicts and kick-started investigations into the safety of Roundup in the U.S. and around the world.
Law360 also recognized Mr. Wisner for winning a key appeal in the First Circuit Court of Appeals in a RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) class action case he and his team litigated against Forest Labs. The allegations in this case state that Forest Labs engaged in false and misleading promotion of Celexa and Lexapro for pediatric or adolescent use and illegally compensated doctors to prescribe the antidepressants to kids.
Law360 MVP of the Year Awards
Every year, Law360 profiles lawyers who have the greatest successes and make the most significant contributions to their legal practice areas. Attorneys of every level and age are considered for this award across multiple practice areas, from cybersecurity to real estate, health care, banking and more. About five lawyers are awarded per practice area each year, but Law360 scales the number of awardees according to the volume and quality of nominations.
In addition to his MVP of the Year award, in 2018, Law360 also recognized Mr. Wisner as a Titan of the Plaintiffs Bar for a wrongful death verdict he obtained against pharmaceutical giant GSK, a lifetime award that recognizes attorneys who excel in the courtroom in large-scale litigation and take on leadership roles at their firms.
The legal team at Baum Hedlund extends hearty congratulations to Attorney Wisner for earning this honor.
About Attorney R. Brent Wisner
The Landmark Pilliod et al. v. Monsanto Co. Case
The $2.055 billion verdict of Pilliod et al. v. Monsanto Co. was deemed the second-highest verdict in the United States in 2019, by the National Law Journal Top 100 Verdicts. The Pilliod verdict is also the highest verdict in California for 2019 and the ninth largest in American history.
Attorney Wisner served as co-lead trial counsel for the plaintiffs, Alva and Alberta Pilliod, a couple in their 70s who alleged their exposure to Roundup led them to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Mr. Wisner delivered the opening and closing statements, presented a majority of the case’s scientific evidence, and cross-examined Bayer’s experts in the case.
Attorney Wisner’s Work in Hardeman v. Monsanto Co.
Hardeman v. Monsanto Co. was the first federal case concerning Roundup and its associated risk of cancer to go to trial. Attorney Wisner served on the trial team and presented one of the key expert witnesses for plaintiff, Mr. Hardeman. He also cross-examined corporate witnesses.
After weeks of trial proceedings, Mr. Hardeman’s legal team convinced the jury that the plaintiff’s exposure to Roundup led to the development of his cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The trial resulted in an $80 million jury verdict for Mr. Hardeman. Although the verdict was later reduced to $25.2 million and is still on appeal, the case led the presiding judge to file a formal order of mediation, beginning settlement negotiations between Bayer and lawyers fighting on behalf of thousands of citizens who allege they were similarly harmed by Roundup exposure.
RICO Class Action Against Forest Pharmaceuticals / Forest Labs
In re Celexa & Lexapro Mktg. & Sales Practices Litig., 915 F.3d 1 (1st Cir. 2019) United States Court of Appeal for the First Circuit - Case Nos. 18-1146, 18-1147 / MDL No. 09–02067–NMG
Baum Hedlund filed a national Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) class action against Forest Pharmaceuticals in 2012 alleging the company engaged in fraud and used false and misleading marketing to get doctors to prescribe the antidepressants Celexa (citalopram) and Lexapro (escitalopram) “off-label” for pediatric use when the FDA had not approved these medications for children or adolescents.
R. Brent Wisner briefed and argued an appeal related to this class action against Forest. The District Court / MDL (multi-district litigation) Judge had dismissed the case, granting summary judgment in Forest’s favor and closing the MDL proceeding. Mr. Wisner was able to successfully obtain a reversal of the MDL Court’s ruling, creating circuit-level precedent about the viability of civil RICO claims against pharmaceutical companies.
Other Awards and Accolades in Honor of Brent Wisner
Attorney Wisner has been recognized by many other prestigious organizations, such as Best Lawyers®, ALM, The National Law Journal, Lawdragon 500, the National Trial Lawyers, and more. He has a passion for using the law to help marginalized and injured people, dedicating his time to holding negligent corporations accountable for their harmful actions. He is a vice president and a senior shareholder at Baum Hedlund, where he focuses on pharmaceutical product liability, toxic torts, consumer fraud and class action litigation.
We are a national law firm based in Los Angeles and are nationally recognized for our dedicated civil trial lawyers and groundbreaking cases and verdicts. Baum Hedlund has been in practice for more than 40 years and is ranked in U.S. News and World Report Best Lawyers® Best Law Firms. We pride ourselves on our client-focused and always-ready legal counsel. Overall, we have won more than $4 billion in verdicts and settlements for our clients.
Read more in our Press Release.
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