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Brian L. Stekloff

Partner

Brian is a go-to first-chair trial lawyer who has tried over 30 cases to verdict before juries across the country.

Brian serves as national trial counsel for Monsanto in its Roundup litigation.  He recently delivered the first full defense verdict in the litigation in a Los Angeles Superior Court case involving a boy diagnosed with cancer at age 5.  Brian has also obtained complete defense verdicts on behalf of Bayer, Eli Lilly, and Pfizer in products liability bellwether trials, including the first state-court jury verdict for Bayer in the Xarelto litigation.

Brian has also played a critical role in winning cases before trial, including a recent Daubert and summary judgment victory for Medtronic in hernia mesh litigation in the Central District of California.  The Court excluded Plaintiffs’ specific causation expert based on Brian’s argument and deposition.

In recognition of his success, Brian is nationally ranked in Chambers in products liability and mass torts.  Chambers describes Brian as “a tremendous lawyer” who is “instrumental in getting favorable results.”

Before founding Wilkinson Stekloff, Brian previously practiced at Covington and Burling and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, where he tried multiple cases to verdict and represented companies and individuals in government investigations and prosecutions.  Brian also spent four years as an Assistant Federal Public Defender for the Southern District of Florida, where he obtained full acquittals in nearly one-third of his jury trials at a rate of more than double the national average.


Education

  • Undergraduate: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, B.A. with distinction
  • Law: Georgetown University Law Center, J.D. magna cum laude (Order of the Coif)

Clerkship

  • Judge Catherine C. Blake, United States District Court for the District of Maryland (2001-03)
  • Judge J. Frederick Motz, United States District Court for the District of Maryland (2001-03)

Notable Matters

  • Led the team in securing a pre-trial victory in Northrup v. Covidien (C.D. Cal.) in which the judge excluded Plaintiff’s expert and dismissed the case in its entirety. Brian obtained key admissions from the Plaintiff’s expert that were quoted extensively in the Court’s opinion dismissing the case, and he led oral arguments before the Court on Defendants’ motions to exclude the opinions of Plaintiff’s expert and for summary judgement. The Court agreed with Defendants’ arguments and ruled that all of Plaintiff’s expert’s opinions were inadmissible under Daubert, and that Plaintiff’s claims could not proceed in the absence of admissible expert support.
  • Served as lead trial counsel for the defense team in Clark v. Monsanto, a trial involving claims that the herbicide Roundup causes Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. Clark was the fourth case in this mass tort to go to trial; the three previous trials resulted in verdicts against Monsanto ranging from $81 million to over $2 billion. At the start of trial, Brian convinced the judge to “reverse bifurcate” the case into a first phase focused on causation and a second phase focused on liability and damages. The ruling marked the first time a state court judge has granted such a motion in this litigation, and the bifurcation allowed the jury to focus on the scientific evidence. After a single day of deliberation, the jury delivered the first-ever verdict for Monsanto in the Roundup mass tort litigation.
  • Served as lead trial counsel in Russell v. Janssen in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.  The trial was the second state-court bellwether trial over the blood-thinner Xarelto and resulted in a full defense verdict when the jury rejected claims against Bayer AG and Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals.  The plaintiff in the Russell case alleged that Bayer and Janssen were liable for claims that the Xarelto label did not adequately instruct doctors on the risks of bleeding associated with the Anticoagulant Xarelto.
  • Successfully co-tried a two-plaintiff jury trial in federal court for Eli Lilly and Company regarding the antidepressant Cymbalta and allegations that Eli Lilly failed to warn of discontinuation risks.
  • Successfully co-tried two separate trials in federal court for Pfizer as part of a multi-district litigation regarding the hormone therapy medication Prempro and allegations that Pfizer failed to warn of the risk of developing breast cancer.
  • Served as a key member of the defense team representing the NFL in its landmark concussion litigation class action settlement and in related cases for the Kansas City Chiefs and Arizona Cardinals.
  • Appointed as pro bono counsel in a number of highly sensitive matters involving attorney-client privilege issues, ineffective assistance of counsel claims and section 1983 actions by the District Court of Maryland.
  • Successful representation of Pfizer in defending an antitrust case in which plaintiffs claimed Pfizer engaged in a patent-stacking scheme to delay generic entry and maintain a monopoly for Neurontin.

Clients & Industries

Brian’s broad practice has included representation of plaintiffs and defendants in products liability, sports, financial services, and healthcare. He has represented Fortune 500 Companies – including Bayer, Eli Lilly, FedEx Ground, JP Morgan, Medtronic, Monsanto, the National Football League, and Pfizer.  To date, Brian has tried twenty-nine jury trials to verdict in federal and state courts across the country.

Other Activities

From 2006 to 2010, Brian served as an Assistant Federal Public Defender for the Southern District of Florida in Miami. In that capacity, he represented indigent defendants in a variety of criminal cases involving alleged securities and other financial fraud, political corruption, violent crimes, narcotics and immigration offenses.  As an Assistant Federal Public Defender, Brian chaired or co-chaired twenty-two felony jury trials, including seven full acquittals.  Brian has remained involved in representing indigent defendants on a pro bono basis as a member of the Criminal Justice Act Panel for the District of Maryland.

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