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The American Lawyer Names R. Brent Wisner to 2021 West Trailblazers
Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman, PC Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman, PC
Los Angeles, CA
Monday, August 16, 2021

R. Brent Wisner, Trial Lawyer

The American Lawyer honored Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman attorney R. Brent Wisner with a profile article in its inaugural publication of the 2021 West Trailblazers. The article includes an interview with Mr. Wisner where he discusses his legal victories over the last few years, including his recent success in the Monsanto Roundup litigation.

The American Lawyer's Trailblazer series recognizes lawyers from a variety of practice areas who have established themselves as "agents of change." The West Trailblazers include attorneys from Hawaii, Alaska, California, Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, and Wyoming whose work has moved the needle in the legal field.

Backstory on the Attorney That Took on Monsanto…and Won

Wisner told The American Lawyer that he knew he wanted to be a trial attorney as a young kid, recalling that fighting for the rights of others always came naturally.  

He got his chance to make a name for himself in 2018 when he was asked to co-try the case of a lifetime. Mike Miller of The Miller Firm was slated to be lead counsel in the Monsanto Roundup case to go before a jury. But two weeks before the trial, Miller sustained serious injuries in a freak accident. Miller put his faith in Wisner and offered him the opportunity to co-try the case with Miller Firm attorney David Dickens. Just 34 at the time, Wisner accepted the role of co-lead trial counsel in the case of Johnson v. Monsanto Co.

"My firm and co-counsel put their faith in me to be the leading force in the first trial," said Wisner, who delivered the opening and closing statements, cross-examined many of Monsanto's expert witnesses, and presented much of the scientific evidence at trial. Their faith paid off: After roughly six weeks of trial, plaintiff Dewayne "Lee" Johnson was awarded more than $289 million in damages.

The judge later reduced the groundbreaking verdict and Mr. Johnson accepted the remittitur. Wisner continued to assist on the case through the appeal, which Monsanto lost in 2020. In the end, the company declined to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, and Mr. Johnson received over $20 million in total damages.

$2 Billion Jury Verdict Carves Path for Massive Settlement

In 2019, Wisner and his colleagues again took on Monsanto. This time, they won an historic $2 billion verdict for Alva and Alberta Pilliod, a Northern California couple who alleged Roundup caused both of them to develop non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. At 35, Wisner became the youngest attorney to ever win a multi-billion-dollar verdict.

The judge later reduced the verdict to $86.7 million which Monsanto-Bayer appealed and lost just last week. This was the third Roundup verdict the company appealled and lost. The second verdict it lost was on behalf of plaintiff Edwin Hardeman.

"Monsanto-Bayer has now lost every appeal, and for good reason. The trials were based on good law and good science," stated R. Brent Wisner. "The California Court of Appeal fully affirmed the Pilliod verdict. It rejected Monsanto's request for immunity based on federal preemption and upheld an historic $86.7 million judgment, which included punitive damages. The Court confirmed that there was substantial evidence that Monsanto 'acted with a willful and conscious disregard for the safety of others in its efforts to shape the scientific inquiry into glyphosate and Roundup,' and that Monsanto's conduct was 'reprehensible.' This is a major triumph for the Pilliods and plaintiffs everywhere. Monsanto needs to pull its head out of the sand and Roundup off the shelves now."

The jury verdicts in Johnson and Pilliod put pressure on Bayer, which acquired Monsanto in 2018. After months of negotiations, Bayer announced settlements worth nearly $11 billion with Baum Hedlund and other leading law firms in the Roundup litigation.

"We brought one of the largest biochemical companies in the world to the brink of bankruptcy and forced billions of dollars to go to cancer victims and their families in settlements," Wisner said in his interview with The American Lawyer. He added that the litigation likely caught the attention of companies worldwide. "[w]hen the raw, unvarnished truth is displayed in a courtroom, we win."  

About R. Brent Wisner

R. Brent Wisner is a senior shareholder and vice president at the national law firm of Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman. He concentrates his practice on holding negligent corporations accountable through product liability, consumer fraud, and class action litigation. After earning groundbreaking jury verdicts worth more than $2.42 billion, Wisner is widely considered one of the nation's top plaintiff's trial lawyers.

Read more about R. Brent Wisner's West Trailblazer award here

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Name: Robin McCall
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Group: Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman
Dateline: Los Angeles, CA United States
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