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 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 currently heads the firm’s pharmaceutical litigation department and focuses on drug product liability mass tort and class action litigation as well as 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!’”
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, GlaxoSmithKline, and Pfizer.
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.
“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.”
Medical officials from foreign governments in countries such as Ireland, Japan, Russia and Taiwan have sought Michael’s advice and assistance with their countries’ public policies concerning consumer drug safety. They’ve done so after becoming aware of Michael’s impressive understanding of biomedical research, clinical trials, statistics, the pharmaceutical industry and marketing, as well as his firm’s successful and effective discovery procedures and extensive work with experts on complicated scientific issues related to Baum Hedlund’s pharmaceutical litigation.
Among his many achievements, accomplished with the help of his team, Michael is most proud of:
- Being recognized, along with his firm, as a national leader in the antidepressant Paxil, Prozac, and Zoloft suicide litigation
- Working to bring about the black box suicidality warning for children and young adults, now on most antidepressant labels
- Helping spur funding for the Ricky Ray Hemophilia Relief Fund Act of 1998, which was made part of the negotiated settlement to help scores of hemophiliacs infected with HIV by contaminated medication
- Arranging for the face to face presentation between pharmaceutical company executives and dozens of hemophiliac families that got to say, person by person, holding before and after photos of themselves or departed loved ones, how the hemophilia-AIDS epidemic, and the manner in which the companies caused and covered it up, impacted their lives
- Being one of the leaders in the fight against federal preemption, a doctrine pushed by the pharmaceutical industry to wipe out consumers’ rights to sue drug companies for injuries caused by their drugs. Preemption was finally defeated in 2009 with the Supreme Court’s ruling in Wyeth v. Levine
- Creating the first class action ever filed against an SSRI-antidepressant manufacturer, ending with the successful resolution of more than 3,000 Paxil injury cases
- Finding “needles in haystacks” and “smoking guns” in document productions, such as GE engineers’ graphs predicting the next DC 10 engine failure which mirrored the date of the United 232 crash 5 years later, an internal study linking SSRIs to cardio-birth defects or documentation of company programs to ghostwrite medical journal articles for academic opinion leaders to give the appearance of objective science when actually serving marketing objectives to increase prescriptions, i.e. disguised advertising
- Negotiating the first official public apology by an airline for the 2003 Air Midwest Flt. 5481 Charlotte, North Carolina crash
- Eliminating California law that protected tobacco companies from lawsuits. For many years, the statute of limitations was considered to begin to run from the date the plaintiff knew or should have known that he/she was addicted to tobacco. This effectively barred plaintiffs, many of whom began smoking in their teens, from suing. Now, the statute of limitations runs when the plaintiff’s physical injuries are (or reasonably could be) discovered
- Developing a rigorous, skillful and technical method for locating hard-to-find manufacturer documents in order to successfully litigate against major pharmaceutical companies, positioning his firm as a leader in the fight to increase public health and safety
- Creating coalitions of activists, attorneys, and Baum Hedlund staff, who work together to resolve global problems caused by harmful and defective drugs, which no individual could accomplish alone.
“We have adopted Margaret Mead’s philosophy, ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.’”
Michael has served on numerous trial teams and plaintiffs’ steering committees in mass tort litigation involving pharmaceutical product liability cases as well as major airline crashes.
He has an AV® 5.0 out of 5 Peer Review Rating through Martindale Hubbell, and is listed in The Best Lawyers in America®, Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers, Southern California Super Lawyers, Who’s Who in American Law, and Aviation Counsel Magazine’s List of Recommended High Flyers.
In his spare time, Michael enjoys spending time with his family, playing foosball, softball, volleyball, and boogie-boarding.