Brian L. Stekloff
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 five. 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. Brian continues to represent Medtronic in national products liability litigation concerning its hernia mesh.
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.” Brian is also ranked by Legal 500 for “Toxic Torts,” “Consumer Products,” and “Sports.” In 2023, he was named “Trial Lawyer of the Year” and “Top Product Liability Litigator” by Benchmark Litigation, and led the trial team that received Benchmark’s “National Impact Case Award” for the defense verdict secured in Clark v. Monsanto.
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.
- 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)
- 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)
- Lead trial counsel for a major chemical manufacturer in the Aqueous Film-Forming Foams (AFFF) Products Liability Litigation in the District of South Carolina. The multi-district litigation, involving alleged PFAS groundwater contamination from the use of AFFF, is considered the most significant PFAS litigation in the country. Brian directs overall trial strategy in both the MDL and various state courts on behalf of the major chemical manufacturer, and was set to serve as lead trial counsel for the manufacturer in the first bellwether trial in the AFFF MDL, which was halted when the remaining parties announced a settlement to end all water-provider claims brought against the manufacturer.
- Lead trial counsel defending Altria Group, Inc. and certain of its subsidiaries in the first government entity bellwether trial, brought by the San Francisco Unified School District, in multi-district litigation arising out of Altria’s minority investment in JUUL Labs, Inc. Just one day after SFUSD rested its case and Brian’s cross examinations of three key plaintiff experts, plaintiffs agreed to a global settlement with Altria that resolved the personal injury, consumer class action, and government entity cases brought in over 6,000 e-vapor cases in state and federal courts.
- Lead trial counsel for the NFL in a national antitrust MDL lawsuit brought by putative class members challenging the League’s broadcast arrangement for its Sunday Ticket Package. The District Court dismissed all of Plaintiffs’ claims, with prejudice. The Ninth Circuit subsequently reversed that decision, and the case is scheduled for trial in February 2024.
- 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 in Hardeman v. Monsanto, the first federal-court trial over allegations that Roundup causes Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Brian led the pretrial strategy in front of Judge Vince Chhabria, including on a successful motion to “reverse bifurcate” the trial with a first phase focused on causation. The jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff that is currently on appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
- 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.