Legal news media company Law360 named Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman attorney R. Brent Wisner a Titan of the Plaintiffs Bar.
Wisner was one of ten attorneys Law360 profiled for earning significant legal victories in 2017. According to Law360, the attorneys on the Titans of the Plaintiffs Bar list not only excel in the courtroom in large-scale litigation, but also take on leadership roles at their firms. These attorneys “strategically shaped outcomes, acted as champions to their clients and nabbed massive settlements. And they perform with passion,” Law360 wrote.
Brent Wisner named Titan of the Plaintiffs Bar Due to Landmark Paxil Suicide Verdict Against GSK
Wisner was co-lead counsel in a complex trial that resulted in the first multi-million-dollar jury verdict holding a brand-name drug manufacturer – GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) – liable for injuries caused by a generic version of one of its drugs. The high-profile case involved a prominent Chicago attorney, Stewart Dolin, who took his life in 2010 while under the influence of generic paroxetine, an antidepressant sold under the brand-name Paxil.
Wisner successfully argued, prior to trial, the Supreme Court’s ruling in Pliva v. Mensing (which eliminated the ability of consumers to sue generic manufacturers) unfairly leaves consumers with no recourse when injured by a generic drug, unless the brand-manufacturer can be held accountable. Wisner argued that, to hold neither manufacturer responsible unjustly leaves consumers in the lurch. Brand manufacturers are responsible for maintaining the accuracy of a drug’s label, and they are privy to the internal adverse event data regarding the drug, so they are aware of the foreseeable harm to be suffered from a label that inaccurately minimizes or omits a fatal risk. Since generic manufacturers are required to use the brand drug’s label, it is fundamental negligence to leave the label inaccurate for both brand and generic drug consumers.
Because the brand-manufacturer controls the content of the label for both brand and generic versions of the drug, it made sense to hold GSK responsible in this case. This was particularly true given GSK’s decades-long knowledge of Paxil’s risk of inducing suicidal behavior in patients of all ages and its failure to warn of those risks. The judge who oversaw the Dolin trial explained after listening to all of the evidence presented at trial: “GSK’s history of misconduct with this drug by failing to warn and providing false information to consumers and the FDA are factors which militate against providing label immunity” to GSK in this case.
Veteran Chicago trial attorney, David Rapoport, who tried the Dolin case with Wisner, highlighted Wisner’s role in the landmark case:
“Brent is a brilliant young attorney,” Rapoport said. “His witness examinations were consistently to the point, effective, interesting and often entertaining. He created a David v. Goliath atmosphere that I believe contributed to the plaintiff’s verdict.”
The case has been described as groundbreaking and likely to shape the landscape of pharmaceutical litigation for years to come.
Following her husband’s death, the plaintiff, Wendy Dolin, started a non-profit organization called MISSD (Medication-Induced Suicide Prevention and Education Foundation in Memory of Stewart Dolin) in order to raise awareness concerning a medication-induced side effect called akathisia, a phenomenon marked by extreme internal restlessness and mental disturbance long linked with the induction of suicidal and homicidal behavior.
Baum Hedlund continues to accept and investigate Paxil and generic paroxetine suicide cases on behalf of families whose loved ones have taken their own lives while on Paxil or generic paroxetine and patients who have attempted suicide while taking Paxil or generic paroxetine.
Wisner’s Publication of Documents Described as ‘The Monsanto Papers’ Make Headlines
Wisner also made headlines last summer when he posted internal Monsanto documents on the Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman website. The documents were then widely used in published articles by journalists from around the world, including the New York Times.
The discovery documents were posted on Baum Hedlund’s website after Monsanto failed to file a motion to preserve their confidentiality within 30 days of the firm’s challenge to Monsanto’s confidentiality designations. As a result of this failure, confidentiality was terminated by the terms of the Protective Order.
The documents, now a part of ‘The Monsanto Papers,’ suggest Monsanto ghostwrote academic articles exploring, among other things, the health risks associated with Roundup and its active ingredient, glyphosate. “Clearly Monsanto’s lawyers made a mistake,” Wisner told the New York Times after the documents went public.
“They didn’t properly take action to preserve the confidentiality of these documents. Now the world gets to see these documents that would otherwise remain secret.”
Wisner sent the declassified documents to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of the Inspector General, European regulators and European parliament which led to important safety investigations in the EU and a widespread inquiry into Monsanto’s scientific manipulations of carcinogenicity data.
Thousands of people from across the country have filed lawsuits against Monsanto alleging exposure to Roundup weed killer caused them to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma. In addition to the federal multidistrict litigation in San Francisco, individuals from California, Nebraska, Delaware and Missouri have filed claims in state courts making similar allegations.
Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman is one of the leading firms in the Monsanto Roundup litigation, representing over 700 individuals in state and federal claims. Baum Hedlund also represents individuals in a class action lawsuit against Monsanto for allegedly falsely promoting Roundup products as interfering with an enzyme that is found only in plants, but not “in people or pets,” even though beneficial bacteria in the human gut, mucus membranes and skin depend on the same enzyme that Roundup targets.