Wilkinson Stekloff Celebrates Banner Year of High Stakes Trial Wins By Next Generation Of Trial Lawyers

WASHINGTON – Wilkinson Stekloff is racing into its fourth year after notching a series of high-profile victories, led by a large and diverse group of partners. In 2018, all of Wilkinson Stekloff’s partners participated in trials and case-dispositive hearings, and several other attorneys achieved significant on-their-feet experience, including through pro bono cases. The firm earned repeated recognition for the depth and successes of its bench and added a new crop of talented litigators to its roster.

Wilkinson Stekloff won three trials in 2018, each of which was first-chaired by a different partner:

  • On April 27, 2018, Wilkinson Stekloff, led by Brian Stekloff, Jeremy Barber, and Lori McGill, won a unanimous defense verdict for Bayer and Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals in Russell v. Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., the second state-court Xarelto bellwether trial in the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas.
  • On May 21, 2018, Wilkinson Stekloff, led by Kosta Stojilkovic and Rakesh Kilaru, won a defense verdict for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in McNair v. NCAA, a defamation suit brought by former University of Southern California assistant football coach Todd McNair.  Julie Rubenstein argued several key motions at trial.
  • On August 30, 2018, Wilkinson Stekloff, led by Alexandra Walsh, Tamarra Matthews Johnson, and Rakesh Kilaru, won a complete defense verdict in Cooney v. Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., the third state-court Xarelto bellwether trial in the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas.

Wilkinson Stekloff also represented the NCAA at trial in NCAA v. Jenkins, serving as lead trial counsel in cases involving claims by current and former NCAA college football and basketball student-athletes challenging NCAA rules that limit the level of athletics-based financial aid and benefits student-athletes may receive.  The plaintiffs have set out to fundamentally change college athletics in America by attacking their defining characteristic—that student-athletes are amateurs—making this one of the most important cases in the NCAA’s history.  Wilkinson Stekloff’s team is led by Beth Wilkinson, Brant Bishop, and Sean Eskovitz.

Wilkinson Stekloff also achieved several other pre- and post-trial victories in 2018:

  • On January 9, Wilkinson Stekloff, led by Beth Wilkinson and Alexandra Walsh, won Hartman v. Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., the first state-court bellwether trial involving the blood-thinner Xarelto, when the trial court overturned a jury verdict for the plaintiff and entered judgment for Bayer and Janssen.
  • On January 18, the United States Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced the dismissal of CFPB v. Golden Valley Lending, an enforcement action brought against the economic development arms of the Habematolel Pomo of Upper Lake, a sovereign Indian Nation based in California.  The CFPB dropped the case rather than respond to Wilkinson Stekloff’s motion to dismiss.  Wilkinson Stekloff’s team was led by Brant Bishop, Rakesh Kilaru, and Lori McGill.
  • On June 28, U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade granted judgment as a matter of law to Wilkinson Stekloff’s clients Oculus and Facebook on plaintiffs’ false designation claim in Zenimax Media et al. v. Oculus VR, vacating the related $250 million damage award and further reducing plaintiffs’ recovery to less than five percent of what they had sought at trial.  The court also granted Wilkinson Stekloff’s motion for sanctions.  Beth Wilkinson, Brant Bishop, and Kosta Stojilkovic led Wilkinson Stekloff’s team.  
  • On September 5, Brant Bishop and Kosta Stojilkovic won complete dismissal, before any discovery, of a securities fraud class action case in In re MAXIMUS, Inc. Securities Litig.
  • On October 5, following a six-day trial, Wilkinson Stekloff associates Cali Cope-Kasten and Hal Brewster secured a favorable judgment in a pro bono custody and divorce case in D.C. Superior Court.
  • On December 7, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit unanimously upheld Wilkinson Stekloff’s major trial court win for Georgia Pacific, affirming the complete dismissal of a high stakes antitrust class action lawsuit involving over $10 billion in claimed damages.  Wilkinson Stekloff’s team was led by Beth Wilkinson, Alexandra Walsh, Brant Bishop, and Rakesh Kilaru.
  • On December 19, the Independent Review Panel tasked with reviewing betting-related integrity issues facing professional tennis issued its Final Report following a multi-year investigation.  Beth Wilkinson sat on the Panel, and Sean Eskovitz provided substantial legal assistance to the Panel.  The detailed Final Report found that “tennis faces a serious integrity problem” and made numerous recommendations to improve how tennis handles betting-related integrity threats.

The firm also continued to add to its impressive roster of legal talent.  In 2018:

  • James Rosenthal was hired as Partner
  • Rakesh Kilaru was promoted to Partner
  • Eunnice Eun and Ralia Polechronis were hired as Counsel
  • Julie Rubenstein and Kieran Gostin were promoted to Counsel
  • Meghan Cleary, Jaclyn Delligatti, Amelia Frankel, Rahul Hari, D’Juan Jones, Jeff Love, Chan Sethi, Matthew Skanchy, and Xiao Wang joined the firm as Associates

These successes and high-profile hires led to multiple accolades for Wilkinson Stekloff and its attorneys, including:

  • Beth Wilkinson was named “Trial Lawyer of the Year,” a “Top 100 Trial Lawyer,” and one of the “Top 10 Female Litigators” by Benchmark Litigation
  • Alexandra Walsh was named Litigation Daily’s “Litigator of the Week”
  • Beth Wilkinson, Alexandra Walsh, and Lori Alvino McGill were ranked among Benchmark Litigation’s “Top 250 Women in Litigation”
  • Kosta Stojilkovic and Kieran Gostin were selected as Law360 “Rising Stars”
  • Kosta Stojilkovic and Rakesh Kilaru were named to Benchmark Litigation’s “40 and Under Hot List”
  • Wilkinson Stekloff was selected by Law360 as an industry-leading “Best Law Firm For Female Attorneys” in its annual “2018 Glass Ceiling” report
  • Vault named Wilkinson Stekloff the sixth-best midsize law firm to work for in its 2019 Law Firm Rankings.  Among other accolades, Vault ranked Wilkinson Stekloff second for compensation, third for diversity, and fourth for pro bono.