Demonstrating the firm’s standing as the leading trial litigation boutique in the country, recent press coverage chronicled Wilkinson Stekloff’s innovative trial strategies in articles examining the firm’s latest groundbreaking victories.
In “Microsoft Lawyer’s 10-Day Race to Save the Biggest Gaming Deal,” Bloomberg recounts Founding Partner Beth Wilkinson’s successful defense of Microsoft’s $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard, the second-biggest merger trial — and largest ever involving a technology company — in American history.
Law360’s “How Monsanto Attys Turned Roundup Trial Losses Into Wins” details how Founding Partner Brian Stekloff’s pivotal trial strategy led to a string of victories on behalf of client Monsanto in high-stakes multidistrict litigation after three earlier trials had resulted in plaintiff verdicts ranging from $81 million to over $2 billion.
Bloomberg outlines how Beth’s team defeated the FTC’s motion for a preliminary injunction just four weeks after the FTC filed its federal court complaint aimed at blocking Microsoft’s proposed $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard. The firm then prevailed in opposing the FTC’s request for stays of the district court’s ruling pending appeal.
“In terms of the unique preparation, I’ve never heard of a trial of that magnitude where you only had 10 days’ notice,” Beth told Bloomberg, adding that her team managed to get the documents and evidence to San Francisco, get the executives ready to testify, and try the case during that span.
Activision CEO Bobby Kotick commented that coming into the case, Beth “knew nothing about video games, nothing about the industry, and within a week had an undeniable grasp” of it all. The trial team presented an uncomplicated chronology of events and developments to show Microsoft had taken steps to address the agency’s concerns that the acquisition would thwart competition, securing US District Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley’s ruling rejecting the FTC’s request to block the deal. “[Beth] is incredibly capable of distilling complex facts into an easy to understand argument,” Kotick added.
In addition to the firm’s major successes in the antitrust space, Wilkinson Stekloff has delivered major victories in several products liability trials, maintaining its reputation for developing winning strategies that can be replicated in later stages of multi-district or mass tort litigation.
Law360 highlights Brian’s 2021 victory in Clark v. Monsanto,the first-ever jury verdict for Monsanto in the multi-district litigation arising out of claims that its popular herbicide causes Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. Brian outlined for Law360 the adjustments his team made in their trial strategy to secure this victory, including adding experts who testified about an alternative cause for Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, putting company employees on the witness stand at trial, and taking a more aggressive approach to questioning the plaintiffs’ experts and some of the plaintiffs themselves.
“We all were very focused on reframing. I don’t want to suggest the strategy was wrong in the first three trials, including the one I tried,” Brian said. “But I think we were all focused on figuring out tweaks to change the results, and those strategic adjustments have really worked.”
Brian continues to serve as national trial counsel for Monsanto, including leading overall trial strategy in state courts across the country and serving as lead counsel in multi-district litigation in the Northern District of California. Brian and his team have argued all dispositive motions in the MDL since being retained, and developed the strategy for the next seven “waves” of litigation, which involves the workup of hundreds of cases.