Michael L. Baum is the senior managing partner of Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman. He has successfully led the firm through thousands of wrongful death and personal injury cases stemming from major pharmaceutical drug catastrophes, harmful consumer products and commercial transportation mass disasters.
He began his career more than 30 years ago, primarily handling airline accidents and other commercial transportation disasters as well as some pharmaceutical product liability litigation. While he oversees all aspects of managing the firm, Michael directs all of the firm’s mass tort litigation, including defective or harmful pharmaceutical drugs, medical devices, herbicides, and consumer products. He also oversees our class actions and whistleblower qui-tam actions.
“Some of our staff were friends long before they started working here and they remain friends after almost three decades of working together. They actually like each other and enjoy making a difference in the lives of others. One of my favorite quotes, which I like to recite to my staff, sums up the work environment we’ve created at the firm: ‘In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun, and – SNAP – the job’s a game!’”
Award-Winning Pharmaceutical Litigation Team
Under Michael’s leadership, Baum Hedlund has developed a reputation as a law firm that can be counted upon to go above and beyond what is needed to get the job done, a firm that has successfully litigated personal injury, wrongful death, and consumer fraud cases against major pharmaceutical companies such as Alpha Therapeutic, Armour Pharmaceutical Co., Baxter Health Care Corp, Bayer Corp., Dalkon Corporation, Eli Lilly, Forest Labs, GlaxoSmithKline, and Pfizer.
In 1999, Michael served on the trial team in the only Hemophiliac AIDS case to go before a jury. Michael and the trial team represented Leo and Shirley Dixon, whose son, Ken Dixon, contracted the HIV virus and AIDS allegedly as a result of using hemophilia medication contaminated with HIV. Evidence presented at trial showed the medication Ken Dixon used was plasma-derived medication contaminated from the use of high-risk donors with the HIV virus. The jurors found that two of the medication manufacturers, Cutter Biological and Alpha Therapeutics were strictly liable for product liability, negligence and fraud. The jurors further found that after Ken Dixon initially was infected with the AIDS virus (which was not known to him at the time), the continued use of the contaminated products further aggravated Ken's condition, exacerbating and accelerating the development of AIDS. The jury awarded Leo and Shirley Dixon $35.3 million in survival and wrongful death damages. Although the judge overturned the verdict based on a technical issue, the verdict provided essential justice for not only the Dixon family but for hemophiliacs across the country who have suffered and died as a result of their HIV-infected medication.
Fast-forward twenty years later, to find Michael continuing to fight for those injured by Big Pharma products. The National Law Journal recognized Michael and his team as 2018 Elite Trial Lawyers and Pharmaceutical Litigation first place winners for their unprecedented jury verdict against a brand-name drug manufacturer (GSK) for the wrongful death of a man who took a generic form of Paxil.
Groundbreaking Verdicts in Monsanto Roundup Litigation
Michael served on the trial team for three of the first Monsanto Roundup lawsuits to go before juries. In the first trial, Michael and a team of lawyers represented Dewayne “Lee” Johnson, a Benicia, California, school district groundskeeper, who alleged exposure to Monsanto herbicides caused him to develop terminal non-Hodgkin lymphoma. A jury in San Francisco unanimously awarded Mr. Johnson $289M in compensatory and punitive damages, finding that Monsanto acted with malice, oppression, or fraud.
In the wake of this groundbreaking verdict, The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 recognized Michael and his team as the 2019 Trial Team of the Year in the Mass Torts category.
The second Roundup lawsuit to proceed to trial, Hardeman v. Monsanto Company, resulted in an $80 million jury verdict. In May of 2019, the third Roundup cancer trial culminated in a historic $2.055 billion verdict in favor of a Bay Area couple who alleged years of exposure to Roundup weed killer caused them to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Holding Companies Responsible for Aviation Disasters
In addition, his firm is known for successfully resolving major transportation disaster cases against companies such as Airbus, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Amtrak, Bell Helicopter Co., Beechcraft, Boeing, Cessna, China Eastern Airlines, Continental Airlines, Delta Airlines, EgyptAir, Ford Motor Co., McDonnell Douglas, Piper, Robinson Helicopter Co., Sikorsky, SwissAir, TACA Airlines, TWA, United Airlines, and US Airways, among many others.
As part of the plaintiffs’ trial team for families who lost loved ones in the United 232 Sioux City, Iowa crash, Michael found the smoking gun document that showed General Electric’s engineers’ graphs predicting the next DC 10 engine failure, which happened to be the date of the United 232 crash five years later.
“Rigorously investigating and litigating the types of devastating cases we handle on a daily basis requires relentless focus and dedication to our clients’ causes. Approaching things from the perspective that every problem has an optimum solution waiting to be apprehended simplifies our team’s outlook on every aspect of each case we handle.”
Influencing Public Policy
Michael was invited to speak before governmental and regulatory entities on several occasions concerning serious health hazards exposed, in part, due to his firm’s litigation. He testified in Brussels at a public hearing before the European Parliament’s Special Committee Hearing on the EU’s authorization procedure for pesticides (PEST), concerning environment impacts of pesticides, including Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer. He and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. delivered the keynote address to members of the European Green Party during that same trip.