Brent Wisner of Baum Hedlund

Susan Barfield (00:03):
Hello. Thank you Everyone. We’re here to do another Case Works stream, and super excited to be joined today by Brent Wisner. I will provide an introduction on Brent in a moment. We’re also joined by Allison Forrest, who is one of our directors of case operations here at Case Works. I’m not really sure, Brent, if you need much of an introduction, but for anyone that hasn’t been around or getting into the legal industry, I’ll certainly share a little bit. Brent is an attorney and expert in the mass tort litigation. He’s one of Baum Hedlund’s lead trial attorneys. If you haven’t heard, he’s the youngest attorney to ever obtain a multi-billion-dollar verdict. Brent, one of the first things that I’m interested to learn a little bit more is, if you’ll share, tell us a little bit about yourself, how you were introduced to Baum Hedlund, and the driving force behind getting into mass tort litigation.
 
Brent Wisner (01:01):
Well, it’s kind of funny. I grew up in LA, and I went to UCLA, then I went to law school at Georgetown and got a master’s degree at the same time. I was being groomed to be a defense lawyer. I actually had a moment of like, “What am I doing? I don’t want to be a defense lawyer. This is not what I want to do with my life.” And so I last minute tried to figure out something else to do. I ended up clerking for a federal judge in Hawaii for a couple of years. And then my dad said, “Hey, I used to hang out with this guy in the ’70s,” and by hangout I mean, “hang out”, with a guy in the ’70s.They went to Woodstock together. He said, “You should talk to this guy, Michael Baum, and see what he’s doing.” I was like, “Dirty plaintiff’s lawyers? No way. I have no interest in working with them, but I’ll talk to Michael Baum.”
 
Brent Wisner (01:46):
I then realized he was one of the coolest and most wonderful human beings I’ve ever met, and I decided I wanted to work for him. That’s basically been my history so far. We’ve been kicking ass over at Baum Hedlund since.
 
Susan Barfield (01:59):
Yeah. When was that? When did you join the firm did you say?
 
Brent Wisner (02:03):Back in 2012.
 
Susan Barfield (02:04):Oh, okay. Wow. Yeah.
 
Susan Barfield (02:06):
It’s been a long time. Yeah. Awesome.
 
Allison Forrest (02:09):
Yeah. That’s great. A total 180. That’s so funny. The introduction of Baum and then getting over, that’s great. Well, Brent, you’re serving on the Zantac leadership council now, kind of to get things rolling, can you give us just a kind of brief overview of what is the Zantac docket and how did this case get started?
 
Brent Wisner (02:26):
Sure. To clarify, I’m no longer on the MDL leadership, I resigned from that last year. But I am running the California proceeding. I had to pick one, so I picked the California one. But basically Zantac is a case involving a product called Ranitidine. Outside of the body and in the body, it breaks down into a substance called NDMA. NDMA is a potent human carcinogen. We have been retained by thousands of people who have various types of cancer, who are alleging that their consumption of ranitidine caused it. Very similar to what we did in Roundup, use of Roundup causes lymphoma. Here we have a much more popular drug. We have a longer, heavy use by a lot of people, and we have a lot of different cancers. It’s a little more complex than Roundup, but it’s the same sort of concept behind it.
 
Susan Barfield (03:21):
Yeah. That’s great. Since NDMA is not directly added to the product, how do plaintiffs still have a case then?
 
Brent Wisner (03:31):
Well, it’s interesting. It’s because of the way the ranitidine molecule exists. It’s a very unstable molecule. On one side, you have the N of the molecule, on the other side you have the DMA. When you get exposed to heat, to time, to humidity, to the various biological processes in the stomach and through the enzymatic reactions throughout the body, it shears apart and reconstitutes as NDMA. What we’re seeing is that people who consume it, it develops into NDMA in the body. But in addition to that, it also is turning into NDMA in the pill bottle itself. There’s a couple different ways it turns into NDMA, but NDMA is a well-known and potent human carcinogen. It’s not like that’s a big, controversial issue. I think what we’re fighting, is where and how much is formed in different parts, from the moment it gets manufactured to the moment it gets into the body.
 
Allison Forrest (04:26):
Yeah. Also it’s kind of from when it’s transferred, when it’s kind of contained and it’s not in a refrigerator, it’s just on the shelf. So it kind of starts there with production, but then, like you said, develops even further in the body when it’s ingested.
 
Brent Wisner (04:39):
That’s right. For what it’s worth, the defendants for decades have had this “problem”, where for some reason the ranitidine in storage was turning yellow. They claim they didn’t know what it was, but we know that they knew. It’s yellow—NDMA. They knew about it back in the ’80s before it ever came on the market. But it was a blockbuster drug. It was the first drug to ever reach a billion dollars in sales. I mean, it put GSK, as we know it on the map. They weren’t going to give up that cash cow no matter what, so-
 
Susan Barfield (05:14):
Sure.
 
Brent Wisner (05:15):
They just kept selling it and it took us 30, 40 years to figure it out.
 
Allison Forrest (05:18):
Yeah. It’s not going to sell in a fridge, it’s going to sell front shelf where people can grab it. Absolutely. The Zantac docket has really evolved past two years from when it kind of kicked off. What are some of the current reported injuries now and kind of the injuries we can expect to see in the future?
 
Brent Wisner(05:34):
Sure. It depends where you’re litigating. In the federal MDL, I think they limit it to 10 cancers. I think they recently said that they’re not pursuing two of them, so it’s down to eight. And then over in the California proceeding where I’m leading it with Jennifer Moore, we have couple thousand cases there and we’re going to trial in October of next year, so we’re really excited. But there, we’ve just recently selected our bellwether picks, meaning that 20 possible cases that are going to go to trial in the next two to three years. Sorry, in the next year to three years. First the plaintiffs pick, then defense pick, plaintiffs pick, defense pick, that’s what the agreement is. The cancers that are issue in that group of bellwethers are bladder cancer, liver cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and I believe there’s a kidney cancer in there as well.
 
Brent Wisner (06:32):
Those are the six that we’re going to be working up in the immediate litigation period, March of next year. Going through all the science. The state version of Daubert, which is called Sargon in California. We’re going to go through that process. We’re going to go to trial first in October of next year. The likelihood that the first trial is going to be either bladder cancer or liver cancer since those are the two that we selected to pursue first, and we get to go first.
 
Susan Barfield (07:01):
Are you finding that a lot of attorneys are coming to you with their clients since you’re now in the California rather than NDL, asking for you to-
 
Brent Wisner (07:07):
I can’t tell you how many people call me saying, “Hey, how do I get my case to California?” If anybody’s interested in that, we have a process or some things we got to check to make sure. Not everybody can be filed in California, but a lot of people can. I’d say about 15 to 20% of everyone’s docket can be filed in state court. I think if you talk to anybody, if you can file it in California state court, you should. It’s a great venue, we have a great judge. We’re based in Oakland, in Alameda County, in the same department where I actually obtained a $2 billion verdict in Roundup. It’s a good venue, we love the area, we love the jury. It’s a great place to put your cases if you’re interested. If you are reach out to myself or Jennifer Moore, we’ll put you in the right place and the right people to get coordinated.
 
Allison Forrest (07:55):
Answering my questions before I say them thank you so much. Well, Brent, in your opinion, I mean who’s going to ultimately be held liable for these Zantac cases? Is it the retailers? Is it the manufacturers? Is it still too soon to tell? What does it look like now?
 
Brent Wisner (08:10):
I think the primary liability is going to rest with the brand name manufacturers, and we’re talking about GSK, Pfizer, Boehringer Ingelheim, and Sanofi. Sanofi’s probably lesser than the other three because Sanofi only got ownership of the product in the last two years before it got taken off market. But I’d say those are going to be the primary people who are responsible. But I do believe that the generics, the retailers, the distributors, they all have a piece of the liability as well. I think that we’ve had some really interesting discovery in the last six months showing that they knew about this problem and were negligent in the way they did things. I think that when the dust settles, whatever settlement we reach will primarily involve the brands, but I think the distributors and retailers will also be involved to some extent, but in a more limited context.
 
Allison Forrest (09:05):
Yeah. That’s great.
 
Susan Barfield (09:08):
Brent I had a question regarding the officially filed complaints that are being claimed, what are you seeing?
 
Brent Wisner (09:16):
Well, the claims that we’re pursuing are sort of traditional products liability claims. Obviously we’re pursuing different theories of negligence from the manufacturer perspective, failure to warn, failure to test, failure to advise on how to transport. Obviously from the distributors and the retailers, improper, negligent transportation and storage, and the handling of the product itself, which led to NDMA. I’ll say this though, the most compelling part about this case—and this is really any case involving cancer—but cancer’s a big deal and people are really hurt. We have these clients who really have no business being subjected to a carcinogen and frankly wouldn’t have touched ranitidine. There’s a million other options on the market. They wouldn’t have touched it if they’d known it could increase the risk of any cancer, let alone the cancer they got.
 
Brent Wisner (10:11):
And so it’s a really compelling story, and I think the defendants are going to be in a bit of a bind when we get to trial because really there’s no reason for this product, NDMA, which is literally a derivative of rocket fuel. It’s literally a product that has no purpose in our society except to cause cancer and laboratory experiments on animals. It has no business being here. If they knew about it, suspected, should have known about it, they’re going to be held liable. I think the juries are going to see that.
 
Susan Barfield (10:41):
Right. What would you say the leadership team, how are they supporting the multitude of clients?
 
Brent Wisner (10:50):
Well, in the MDL they’ve done a very great job of institutionalizing everything. From, what you have to file, when you have to file, what piece of paper you need to do this. They have a pretrial order for, I think everything that I can think of and then some. Judge Rosenberg is very hands on, she’s a micromanager. Some people like that, some people don’t, but it is what it is. In California State Court it’s a little bit different, the judge has a different approach. You’ve got something in front of him that he needs to resolve, he does, otherwise he’s assuming you’re litigating and working a case up.
 
Brent Wisner (11:29):
But in the California proceeding, the leadership—Jennifer, I, and our PEC, which is a good tight group of attorneys—we’re working up the case. We have our own experts, we have our own protocols, we’re taking our own liability demos. We’re doing all of that work. The MDL is doing it as well. We’re coordinating very carefully where we can where our interest aligns—sometimes they don’t, but most of the time they do—on depositions and getting everything worked up. I’ll tell you, there’s been well over 60 depositions in this case. There have been millions and millions and millions of documents produced and we’re vetting them and getting them prepared and using in depos. The case is coming together pretty nicely. I think it is a really strong liability case and a really strong causation case. I think the leaderships in both of the litigations are doing a real bang up job pressing forward all those aspects.
 
Allison Forrest (12:21):
Yeah. Something that it’s kind of valuable to everyone, hopefully that watches this, really the whole litigation for Zantac has really occurred during COVID. During these kind of different times. And so how has the landscape for mass tort changed because of COVID?
 
Brent Wisner (12:37):
Well, it’s funny. I think COVID had two effects. For the defendants that didn’t want to litigate for years, they all settled, and so we’ve had a bunch of settlements happen. And then for those defendants that want protracted litigation, they’ve leveraged COVID to push out trial dates to make things more difficult. It’s something that we’re fighting every day, trying to get trial dates to stick, how are we going to do a trial with 12 jurors? Can we get them down to eight? How are we going to do it live? Can we do them by Zoom? It’s made it more difficult to proceed in the way we’ve traditionally done. But the same time, I think it’s made it easier. I think Judge Rosenberg, for example, and the same thing with our judge, Judge Grillo, we do all of our hearings basically by Zoom.
 
Brent Wisner (13:23):
A lot more people are able to participate and actively engage in the process. Because of COVID we do a lot more webinars, and a lot more sort of Zoom meetings, probably too many sometimes. But the idea is to, in some ways the fact of COVID has forced us to collaborate more, at least online, in a way that I don’t think we historically did. I think, for example, in the MDL, there’s a lot of great communication coming from the leadership about what’s happening and how things are moving. They have webinars where you can ask and, “Hey, how do we do this, and what’s going on? What’s the strategy for this appeal or whatever?”
 
Brent Wisner (13:59):
For the [California] JCCP, it’s smaller. We don’t have as many firms, but we have a very good tight knit group and we’re doing the same thing. I think it’s an interesting exercise, but I’ll tell you this, and I think everyone will agree. I’m really sick of this disease. It needs to go away. I need to be in a courtroom. I need to be with a jury. I need to be with a judge. You put me in there long enough with people, I’ll get them to agree with me. That’s the whole plan. So much more difficult to do that on a Zoom platform.
 
Allison Forrest (14:29):
Yeah. It’s hard to get the other person to feel your emotions and everything that you’re saying, and then the emotion of the client itself now.
 
Brent Wisner (14:38):
… you like to be able to see people, you know? Right now I’m looking at the camera, so I don’t look like I’m looking off into the distance. I can at least see your faces when I’m talking to you. In front of a jury, 95% of communication is done without noise. It’s done with your face, your body, reactions, and I’ve learned so much at trial from when one juror crosses his arms or rolls his eyes. I notice it, and I go, “Well, hold on doctor, that doesn’t make any sense.” I challenge it and I make the guy go, “Oh, okay, cool.” There’s that feedback that’s so important for duplication and understanding. I used to teach LSAT classes, and being able to see confusion or understanding on someone’s face is so important to making sure they understand it. That also applies to a judge. That’s a part of education and teaching and learning, if you can’t do that, it just hamstrings everybody and it becomes a talking head in a box.
 
Allison Forrest (15:38):
So true though. Perfect. Well, thank you, Brent. Well, I know we’re all interested in Zantac, but we have several other questions that we’d like to ask you kind of about mass tort and other things. Susan, you want to go for it?
 
Susan Barfield (15:51):
Yeah. You were present in the early stages of the Monsanto cases, when that first potential claim that Jack McCall was being considered, what information contributed to the firm’s decision to take on that case?
 
Brent Wisner (16:04):
A lot of things. One, I just have a predisposition for disliking Monsanto. My father worked and marched with Cesar Chavez and worked with farm workers to get them not exposed to pesticides. So I always wanted to go after Monsanto. This is a family tradition in my family. But realistically it was looking at the signs. Every mass tort, any litigation, you want to put a substantial amount of resources and time into, it’s all on the science. Because if the science isn’t there, it’s not worth your time. It doesn’t matter how good of a lawyer you are, how much you can, put lipstick on a pig, if it’s a pig, it’s a pig. And so I think it’s really important to look at the science, look at what’s underlying it. And for example, in Roundup, the International Agency for Research on Cancer(IARC),the most premier cancer agency in the world, had looked at glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, and said, this is a probable human carcinogen. This is a hundred-page report telling you every study and everything.
 
Brent Wisner (17:02):
And I read that and I went, “I’m convinced the signs are there, right?” These guys are really smart. And of course we then hired experts who confirmed it. And despite the fact with Roundup that every regulator in the world says it doesn’t cause cancer, despite the fact that there are studies that show that it doesn’t cause cancer, we had the materials to show that those things were wrong and we could explain why they were wrong. And I think that was all based on science. A lot of people who saw the trial, were there, I had a three hour opening statement. And everyone’s like, “What! Why are you doing that?” And I was going through study by study explaining it; how to understand it, how to read it, what they’re going to say, why that’s not right, here’s the proper way to look at it. And at the end of the day, it obviously worked.
 
Susan Barfield (17:44):
So maybe more Zantac question, sorry, but do you think you’ll kind of use that tactic for Zantac that you used?
 
Brent Wisner (17:53):
I think anytime you don’t embrace the science, you really run the risk of losing. And I think there’s this idea amongst some trial lawyer—not the good ones, but the bad ones—that juries are not smart, that they’ll fall asleep, their eyes will glaze over. And sure, some jurors will, some won’t. But at the end of the day, collectively, they are very smart and they want to know the scientific basis. And if you’re getting verdicts based upon hyperbole, and, you know, drama, that’s not a sustainable approach. Where you get verdicts—big verdicts—is when you show them the facts and the jury goes, “You know what, I see what you’re saying. And I agree.”
 
Brent Wisner (18:34):
And there’s nothing that anybody can say, argue or do otherwise to disabuse them of that. As soon as you get them on your side, then you can really change the world. You can really make a huge impact in the hallowed halls of justice. So I think that it’s really important. I think that’s exactly what we’re going to do in Zantac. I mean, that’s going to be the focus of our case. It’s going to be about the science and the fact that they didn’t do their job as scientists. We’re going to nail them for it.
 
Susan Barfield (19:02):
Yeah. One thing I was going to ask you, Brent, a lot of the attorneys that are looking at our streams, our personal injury attorney is looking to get into mass torts. And so they’re wondering, well, what are some of the things that you share or advice for any personal injury attorney looking to get into mass torts?
 
Brent Wisner (19:21):
Sure. I mean, listen, my firm will often go and get cases that we’re not working up. What we do is we send those cases to the firms that we trust and know are competent and able and will take care of the case. I think people who try to get cases and just sit on them are running a real risk, because nowadays the defendants don’t do global settlements like they used to. They do inventory settlements. You want to make sure you’re in the right inventory. But if you’re looking to get into it, I think the first thing you need to do is talk to someone who’s doing it and say, “Hey, you mind giving me 10 minutes.” I get people who want Zantac or any of my other litigations that I’m working on. And I always have time to sit down and kind of talk through the case, explain it, show them some materials, send them some studies if they really want to dig deep, but you should do that because it’s a lot of money, it’s a lot of time.
 
Brent Wisner (20:11):
But I’ll tell you, the rewards are pretty considerable. Mass tort is the unique synthesis of being able to really help people, a lot of people, and make a good return. It’s really a stop gap to our regulatory failures. The regulators failed for 30 years with Zantac, 40 years of Zantac, and now we’re fixing that with litigation. And so it’s a really cool area, but it can be very tricky and you want to make sure you do it right by giving the cases to the right people. Or if you’re going to do it yourself, rolling up your sleeves and digging in and being able to commit thousands of hours and potentially millions of dollars to litigating. If you’re not going to do that, send it to the firms that are doing that and make sure they’re the good ones. And I’m not going to tell you who’s good or bad—that’s something you’re going to figure out. They’re all my friends. But you can figure out pretty quickly who’s really on top of it and who’s not.
 
Susan Barfield (21:02):
Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And that’s a lot of the same feedback we provide attorneys that are looking to get into the space. It takes a lot of people and a lot of infrastructure to be able to work up these types of cases and to provide the level of insight and keeping these clients engaged throughout the entire litigation. Allison, I know that we were talking a little bit, we had watched one of your YouTube videos and we were interested to learn a little bit about, you mentioned something on one of the YouTubes, I know Allison, you were going to follow up with Brent and ask a little bit more about it.
 
Allison Forrest (21:34):
Yeah, absolutely. So I thought it was really interesting. It was a long video. I watched tons of it of it for sure. But in the beginning you talk about how there’s going to be tons of questions that the jurors are going to have to ask themselves, but there’s really three core questions that kind of umbrella into it.
 
Allison Forrest (21:48):
And it’s not, does Zantac, Roundup whatever, it’s not does that cause cancer. It’s could it have caused cancer and would this client be here today if they wouldn’t have had it? Not saying they weren’t going to get it 10 years down the road and in the future, but would they be in this room today if they haven’t, have used that medication? That drug, anything like that? I thought that was a really interesting spin on that. And I think that makes the argument so much stronger. So maybe if you can talk a little bit about your mindset getting to that being one of the driving arguments.
 
Brent Wisner (22:21):
Sure. I mean, this is again driven by the signs of cancer. All cancers are more prevalent the older you get. Your cells have more time to mutate and then turn into, you have to get a certain sequence of mutations that turn into cancer. It’s like a game of, of Russian roulette, except that as you get older, you’re putting more bullets in the chamber. And if you’re 150 years old, you’re going to get cancer. And that’s what the defendants always say, “Oh, it’s act of God. It’s just random. It’s just genetics or whatever.” But no. The litigation is not about whether or not you would have gotten cancer, it’s how many bullets were in that chamber. And if the defendants have made a carcinogen, that’s loading up the gun, such that it increases the chances of you getting a bullet (or cancer in that context), then they’re liable.
 
Brent Wisner (23:15):
It’s the same concept, because everyone has to understand it’s all about probabilistic determinism; it’s all about what happens based upon the lack of increasing your chances. And once you understand that, all the defendant’s arguments like, “Well, it only increased the risk risk of getting five cancers out of a 100,000.” And you’re like, “Sure, sure. That’s five times more!” And then of course you bring in the individual characteristics of what the person went through and their history and all that kind of stuff. You can sort of describe the size of the number of bullets and the number of chambers and suddenly they’re the person who shouldn’t be taking it[the drug]. So I think it’s really important to understand that, particularly from a litigation perspective and making sure the jury gets that. Because once they do a lot of the defense arguments, make no sense. You can tell they’re just playing games and that’s again, why I really think you need smart jurors because they can see through a lot of that garbage if you can set the stage. Right.
 
Susan Barfield (24:10):
Yeah, absolutely. I appreciate that.
 
Allison Forrest (24:12):
Thank you.
 
Susan Barfield (24:13):
Yeah. I think I know the answer to this and we all probably do, but what is your most fulfilling case to date?
 
Brent Wisner (24:23):
That’s a tough one. Mostly because I’m worried some of my clients will see this and get mad at me and say, “Why didn’t you pick me, Brent?” I think in some ways the most fulfilling case actually was not Roundup, surprisingly, I think. Although that was obviously fulfilling career-wise and all the accolades and everything. But actually the case I did against GSK involving the drug Paxil. I represented a widow whose husband was the senior partner at Reed Smith doing all the mergers and acquisitions—one of the firms we go against. He took Paxil and six days later, he went down to a subway and jumped in front of [a train]and killed himself. And my firm had been doing Paxil suicide cases for years, but this is the first one I ever got. The problem was he didn’t take a brand-name drug, he took just the generic.
 
Brent Wisner (25:11):
And I had to go into court and tell the judge, it doesn’t matter that he only took generic, I should be allowed to sue the brand name[manufacturer]. And there’s about 150 decisions on it. And there’s three decisions that say you can[sue the brand name manufacturer], one of those is mine. It’s the first case I ever argued. I convinced the judge to go for it. We then went to trial, we got a three-million-dollar verdict, which is big in my world, but at the retrospect, probably not that big. And we changed the law in Illinois on that point. So I think in some ways I was very proud of that because I was told at the very beginning, you cannot win this. In fact, they said, “Brent you’re going to lose.” That was how it was given to me.
 
Brent Wisner (25:51):
And I said, “Okay, well, let’s see if I can change that.” That was probably the most fulfilling thing. And to this day, Wendy Dolin, the widow, I text with her, I chat with her whenever I’m in Chicago, I visit with her. She’s a friend now, a true friend. And so, in some ways, that was probably the most fulfilling. But it’s really hard to pick one. Mr. Johnson, I love him. The Pilliods, I love them. Even Mr. Hardiman, I feel deeply passionate about. Some of the families that I got to know in the Roundup litigation that we settled. It’s really hard because I really truly love all of them.
 
Susan Barfield (26:25):
Yeah. We feel the same way you get to know these people, like you said, they become friends and you get to work alongside of them and their success is really your success. And so I certainly can appreciate that. I know that we all would’ve thought you would’ve said the Roundup case, but I figured it might be something a little bit different but, and so that’s interesting to hear that story. But I’m sure a lot of success came out of the Roundup case. And I know Allison, you were going to ask Brent a little bit about, there’s a lot of success you’ve had, but surely you’ve had some failure.
 
Allison Forrest (26:58):
Yeah. And I know we’re kind of running out time a little bit, but that’s exactly right. I mean, of course we’re here because of your success today. But with success comes failure. And so maybe if you wouldn’t mind talking about maybe one of your most impactful or biggest professional failures and how it contributed to us talking today to your trial with Monsanto.
 
Brent Wisner (27:17):
I’m going to tell you a little bit of a story. We don’t have time for it. So you might have to cut this out, but I’m just going to tell you guys and decide if you want to use it or not. Back in the day, there’s this great Ted Talk where the scientist researcher went out and studied, what is the defining characteristic of successful people? And she looked at very successful teachers, people in their different fields, not just monetarily, but in their fields in life. And she studied them all and she found out some really interesting things. One: it’s not intelligence. In fact, intelligence is sometimes inversely related to success. It’s not where you come from and do you have money or anything. No, it’s not that. It’s literally just your ability; she called it grit. It’s the ability to pick yourself up after you’ve lost and just keep going.
 
Brent Wisner (28:03):
Despite every reason you have in your heart and soul to give up. The first case I ever tried, the very first case I ever tried, I was lead trial counsel. It was a pharmaceutical case in Virginia and I lost. I went in, I remember I did my closing argument and Mike Miller, who is one of the attorneys that I ended up working with on Roundup, who just passed away, very tragically. We miss him dearly. He went and saw my closing argument, he came out and he said, “Brent, that was the best closing argument I’ve ever seen in my life….and you’re going to lose.” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “Sorry, you’re going to lose.” I was in Virginia. I didn’t really know much about jury selection, it was not in my sort of realm of knowledge. Two hours later, defense verdict, I lost, and I was crushed, absolutely crushed.
 
Brent Wisner (28:55):
Took me a week to pull myself off of the floor. Desperate sadness that I had. I really was this close to quitting the practice of law. I said I wasn’t cut out for this. I thought I was going to win, I really believed in it. Flash forward to Roundup, Mike Miller is involved in a catastrophic accident, kite surfs into a pier, lungs collapse, and he needs someone to try a case that’s starting in two weeks. And who does he call? He calls that wise ass, Wisner, out in California, who did that great case in Virginia and should have won. And he put trust in me to try the case, and that was the first Monsanto verdict. That’s why I got a chance to do it at such a young age.
 
Brent Wisner (29:37):
And so, because I kept pushing, because I kept doing it. I’m not just saying the fact that I lost—and I lost bad, okay—but it led to greater success because I picked myself up and kept pushing forward. And I think that’s just a great example of how important it is to have grit. Sorry that was a long answer, but-
 
Susan Barfield (29:55):
No.
 
Allison Forrest (29:57):
No, that’s perfect. And really, it’s not just your success though. It’s all those families and all the individuals you’ve helped along the way that you wouldn’t have been able to, if you didn’t have the grit to continue.
 
Brent Wisner (30:06):
Absolutely. And I just want to be clear—Roundup, wasn’t just me, there was a lot of other lawyers involved, really good lawyers! It was not just me, I couldn’t have done that myself, but I think it was the working hard in the face of Judge Chhabria or Chhabria, I never know how to say his name, who in Roundup, who was pretty hostile to the case at times, pushing through all that. I think it was really powerful. And again, grit.
 
Allison Forrest (30:31):
Yeah. I love that. Thank you-
 
Susan Barfield (30:32):
Yeah, I know, I love that too. It’s a great story and it’s a great reminder to all of us, because we’re all going to have professional failures. And so that will stick with me about having grit. Brent I am so honored that you took time to connect with Allison today, share a little bit more about yourself, impart some wisdom on us. And I know that there’ll be a lot of attorneys that are watching this. Let me ask you for those that maybe don’t know how can they get a hold of you?
 
Brent Wisner (31:01):
Best way to reach me, send me an email: rbwisner [at] baumhedlund [dot]com. I mostly respond to emails, but I have an assistant who bothers me to, “Hey, respond that.” If I don’t respond, just send me another email. “Hey, you didn’t respond.” I’ll be like, “I’m sorry I’ll get back to it.” But send me an email. It’s a great way to get ahold of me. If you want to talk to me about anything. And I usually make time for almost everybody as long as you have a defense lawyer or I don’t like investors’, don’t call me if you’re from a hedge fund. I don’t want to talk to you guys. I want to talk to lawyers.
 
Allison Forrest (31:32):
It’s an open invitation to attorneys. Got it.
 
Brent Wisner (31:35):
Unless you kind of tell me something and I don’t want there.
 
Susan Barfield (31:38):
Right. Well, good. Well, we really appreciate you. We appreciate everything have done and for your time today, so thank you so much, Brent, this has been fantastic and hopefully I’m sure there’ll be people reaching out to you. Have a great rest of your day and we appreciate your time.