2019 Elite Trial Lawyers Award Winner – Mass Torts
Wisner Baum won the 2019 Elite Trial Lawyers award in the Mass Torts category
for its work in two of the first cases in the Monsanto Roundup litigation.
Johnson v. Monsanto Co. was the first Roundup lawsuit to proceed to trial. Plaintiff Dewayne “Lee” Johnson alleged that exposure to
Monsanto’s Roundup herbicides
caused him to develop terminal non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).
Wisner Baum vice president R. Brent Wisner served as co-lead trial counsel
for Mr. Johnson, delivering the opening and closing statements. Michael
L. Baum and Pedram Esfandiary served on the trial team.
After five weeks of trial proceedings, the jury returned a $289.25 million
verdict for Mr. Johnson on August 10, 2018. It was the second-highest
jury verdict in the state of California and the third highest in the nation
for the year. Months later, the judge overseeing the Johnson trial reduced
the verdict to $78.5 million.
Months after the Johnson trial, Wisner Baum attorneys assisted the trial
team in the case of
Hardeman v. Monsanto Co., the second Roundup cancer lawsuit case to go before a jury. Like Mr.
Johnson, plaintiff Edwin Hardeman filed suit against Monsanto, alleging
his cancer was caused by exposure to Roundup weed killer.
At trial, R. Brent Wisner presented one of the critical fact witnesses,
Dr. Christopher Portier. He also cross-examined many of the corporate
witnesses. Michael Baum and a team working under him presented and prepared
experts, corporate testimony, and documents. Attorney Pedram Esfandiary
also served on the Hardeman trial team.
Aimee Wagstaff from the law firm of Andrus Wagstaff and Jennifer Moore
of Moore Law Group served as co-lead trial counsel for Mr. Hardeman.
In February of 2019, after roughly a month of trial proceedings, the jury
unanimously found that exposure to Roundup significantly contributed to
Mr. Hardeman’s cancer and awarded him $80 million. The judge overseeing
the trial later reduced the verdict to $25.2 million.
2018 Elite Trial Lawyers Award Winner – Pharmaceutical Litigation
Wisner Baum won the 2018 Elite Trial Lawyers award in the Pharmaceutical
Litigation category based on the firm’s work in a high-profile case
against GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).
The firm represented plaintiff Wendy Dolin, whose husband, prominent Chicago
attorney Stewart Dolin, committed suicide while under the influence of
an antidepressant sold under the brand name Paxil.
Mr. Dolin, who was happily married and financially secure, abruptly left
work early on the afternoon of July 15, 2010, and jumped in front of a
In her lawsuit, Wendy Dolin alleged GSK failed to warn consumers and the
medical community about the increased risk of suicide among adults over
the age of 24 taking Paxil. At the time of his death, Stewart Dolin was
57 years old.
On April 20, 2017, after five weeks of trial, an Illinois jury found GSK
negligent for failing to place a suicide warning in the paroxetine label.
According to the jury, that failure resulted in Stewart Dolin’s death.
The jury awarded Wendy Dolin $3 million in damages.
The verdict was a significant legal victory for Wendy Dolin and consumers
of generic medications – this was the first time a jury held a brand
name drug manufacturer responsible for the death of a person taking a
generic version of a drug.
GSK appealed the jury verdict before the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
While the Seventh Circuit did not address whether or not a brand-name
manufacturer can be held liable for an injury when a patient ingests a
generic drug, the court did rule in GSK’s favor on federal preemption grounds.
On Dec. 19, 2018,
Wisner Baumsubmitted a Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court
on Wendy Dolin’s behalf. The Supreme Court did not take up the case.
2018 Elite Trial Lawyers Award Finalist – Consumer Protection
Wisner Baumn earned second-place finalist for 2018 Elite Trial Lawyer honors
in the practice area of consumer protection, based on the firm’s work in
Selke, et al. v. Germanwings GMBH, et al.
In 2015, Americans Yvonne and Emily Selke boarded Germanwings Flight 9525,
a flight that was supposed to take passengers from Barcelona, Spain to
Düsseldorf, Germany. Tragically, co-pilot Andreas Lubitz locked the
flight captain out of the cockpit and steered the aircraft into a drastic
descent. Yvonne, Emily, and 148 other people aboard the airliner experienced
extreme terror as the plane crashed into mountainous terrain, killing
everyone on board.
Wisner Baum represented the surviving members of the Selke family in their
lawsuit against Germanwings and other defendants. Germanwings filed a
motion to dismiss the case, claiming lack of personal jurisdiction over
it in the state of Virginia on the grounds that it was a German corporation
with no office in the United States, it had never flown its planes into
the United States, and that tickets for the ill-fated flight were not
codeshare tickets with United Airlines, as alleged in the Selke’s lawsuit.
But in July of 2017,
U.S. District Court Judge Gerald Bruce Lee ruled that the “Court has personal jurisdiction over Germanwings because
the airline purposely availed itself of Virginia by transacting business
in the Commonwealth through its agent, United. This business activity
resulted in the sale of tickets that gave rise to Plaintiffs’ cause
“Given the tide of recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions that have
restricted personal jurisdiction, this decision should serve as a ray
of sunshine to the plaintiffs’ community, especially in international
plane crash cases,” the firm wrote in a press release following
the ruling. “Our case shows that if American residents are killed
while flying overseas, their families can still bring an action against
a foreign airline in America.”