Merchandise Legal responsibility/Mass Torts Winner: Wilkinson Walsh

Products Liability/Mass Torts Winner: Wilkinson Walsh

(l-r) Beth Wilkinson, Alexandra Walsh, and Brian Stekloff, of Wilkinson Walsh.

Describe your firm’s approach to litigation and your strategy for building successful teams for trials or other matters. We believe that at the heart of every case is a simple compelling narrative, a narrative that shows the jury why our side should prevail. From the outset of every matter, we work to identify and develop that narrative—in depositions, briefing, and of course at trial. Effectively conveying the narrative is also essential. Both the message and the messenger matter. That is why we are laser-focused on recruiting, training and promoting the best, the brightest and the most diverse trial teams in the practice today.

Discuss the two biggest products liability/mass torts litigation cases your firm worked on in 2019 and how you reached successful outcomes. Wilkinson Walsh won a decisive victory for Bayer in a certified class action trial brought on behalf of One A Day multivitamin consumers. The team’s success began before trial with a motion that reduced potential damages from $4 billion to $600 million. At trial, the team did not call a single defense witness, instead dismantling the plaintiffs’ case through devastating cross- examinations that undermined all claims Bayer had misrepresented the benefits of One A Day multivitamins. The jury returned a full defense verdict after just an hour of deliberations. Wilkinson Walsh is also lead trial counsel for Bayer in litigation concerning Essure, a Food and Drug Administration-approved birth control method made available to women for over a decade. The first trial is anticipated for later this year, and the firm has already helped to secure several important and favorable pretrial rulings for Bayer.

What are the most challenging and satisfying aspects of your work in litigation? Developing the cohesive and compelling narrative that we need to win. We love this aspect of our work but the challenge is steep in products cases, which involve complicated scientific and medical evidence. Ultimately, our goal is to make things simple but not simplistic, as we have tremendous confidence in juries’ abilities. We focus on presenting themes that are memorable and resonate with what jurors already know and understand. The most satisfying moments are when we see those themes “click,” and form genuine connections with the people we are trying to persuade.

What is the most important piece of advice you’d share with young lawyers? Nobody is born a great trial lawyer—developing trial judgment only comes through experience. Take every opportunity to learn by doing, whether by speaking up in team meetings, watching great trial lawyers in action, or jumping on in-court opportunities, no matter how small.

Responses submitted by Beth Wilkinson, Alexandra Walsh and Brian Stekloff, founding partners of Wilkinson Walsh. They have collectively tried dozens of cases to verdict, including serving as lead counsel in five of the six defense wins in the Xarelto litigation. Since founding the firm, they have first-chaired 11 trials, winning the overwhelming majority.

Firm Facts:

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