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Baum Hedlund Wins Law360 Product Liability Practice Group of the Year
Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman, PC Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman, PC
Los Angeles, CA
Monday, November 30, 2020

Baum Hedlund Wins Law360 Product Liability Practice Group of the Year

Nov. 30, 2020 – Los Angeles, California - - The national law firm of Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman has earned Law360's Product Liability Practice Group of the Year Award in recognition of several key legal victories dating back to December of 2019.

Law360 selected Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman among more than 800 applicants for the firm's groundbreaking work in the practice area of product liability. Law360's Practice Group of the Year Award "honors the law firms behind the litigation wins and major deals that resonated throughout the legal industry in the past year."

Baum Hedlund attorneys earned three major wins that Law360 deemed worthy of recognizing with the award:

Monsanto (Bayer) Roundup Litigation $11 Billion Settlement – Largest Settlement in Pharma History, Per Fierce Pharma

On June 24, 2020, Bayer AG announced settlement agreements in principle with five of the leading law firms in the Monsanto Roundup litigation. The agreements would resolve more than 100,000 Roundup cancer claims for roughly $11 billion.

The settlement agreements came after more than a year of negotiations and three consecutive trial losses for Bayer. Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman served on the trial teams for all three of those trials and the firm's vice president and senior shareholder R. Brent Wisner served as co-lead counsel in two of the three cases (Johnson v. Monsanto Co. and Pilliod et al. v. Monsanto Co.) delivering the opening and closing statements. The trials resulted in a combined $2.424 billion in jury verdicts for the plaintiffs. Mr. Wisner was also an integral part of the settlement negotiations with Bayer.

Painters & Allied Trades Dist. Council 82 Health Care Fund v. Takeda Pharm. Co

Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman successfully briefed and argued before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse a Central District of California court decision that had dismissed a federal RICO (Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) class action filed by our firm on behalf of a healthcare fund and consumers from multiple states.

The defendants in the case, Takeda Pharmaceuticals Co. and Eli Lilly & Co., appealed the Ninth Circuit's December 2019 decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. In June of 2020, the Supreme Court justices rejected their appeal and declined to take up the case.

The case marks an important evolution of RICO law both in the Ninth Circuit and nationally because it paves the way for economically harmed plaintiffs to bring civil RICO claims against drug makers. The availability of a national cause of action that allows for trebled damages gives aggrieved consumers and third-party payers to prevent and discourage economic windfalls made by drug companies at the expense of people's health.

The lead attorney on the case, a Baum Hedlund senior shareholder, R. Brent Wisner, is very pleased with the High Court's decision. "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. We look forward to pressing this case in the district court."

The plaintiffs in the case allege the drug makers intentionally misled consumers and refused to change the warning label for Actos (pioglitazone) or otherwise inform the public after learning the drug increased the risk of bladder cancer in patients taking the medication. Actos is a drug that was developed and marketed to lower blood sugar for people with type 2 diabetes.

Dewayne "Lee" Johnson v. Monsanto Company Appeal

Johnson v. Monsanto Co. was the first Roundup cancer lawsuit to proceed to trial. Our firm was honored to represent plaintiff Lee Johnson, who alleged exposure to Monsanto's Roundup caused him to develop cancer.

In August 2018, a California jury found that Monsanto failed to adequately warn of its products' potential dangers and that its products had a design defect. Mr. Johnson was awarded $39 million in compensatory damages and $250 million in punitive damages. The judge later reduced the total damages, and Johnson accepted. Monsanto went on to file an appeal.

On July 20, 2020, Monsanto lost their appeal when the First Appellate District Court upheld the verdict, finding that Monsanto is liable on the failure-to-warn claims because substantial evidence was presented that Roundup's risks were "known or knowable" to Monsanto.

"This is another major victory for Lee and his family," said attorney R. Brent Wisner in a statement after the appeal win. "Nearly every argument by Monsanto was rejected, including Monsanto's vaunted preemption defense, and the verdict was upheld."

The appellate court concluded that attorneys for Mr. Johnson presented abundant evidence that the ingredients in Roundup caused him to develop cancer, that Johnson's causes of action were not preempted, and that Monsanto has not established that the trial court erred in admitting or excluding evidence. While the court decided Johnson was entitled to punitive damages, the total damages were reduced to $20.5 million.

About Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman

The award-winning attorneys at Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman have decades of experience litigating a wide range of product liability cases. Across all areas of practice, the firm has won more than $4 billion in verdicts and settlements on behalf of clients. Our firm has earned a reputation for improving product safety, holding Fortune 500 companies accountable, and breaking new legal ground. We thank Law360 for this great honor.

News Media Interview Contact
Name: Robin McCall
Title: Media Relations Director
Group: Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman
Dateline: Los Angeles, CA United States
Direct Phone: 310-207-3233
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