Via The Frankie Boyer Show: Mike Papantonio is a senior partner at Levin Papantonio Rafferty, one of the country’s largest plaintiff’s law firms. He’s aggressively taken on big pharma, tobacco, weapon manufacturers and the automobile industry. He’s been involved in almost every major multi-district litigation that involves pharmaceutical drugs. And you are now and you are an author, you’ve done some legal thrillers and welcome to the program, Mike.
*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.
Frankie Boyer: Well, you’re in for a treat. You really are. And I am so excited because one of the true leading attorneys for the plaintiffs is with us today. Mike Papantonio is a senior partner at Levin Papantonio, one of the country’s largest plaintiff’s law firms. He’s aggressively taken on big pharma, tobacco, weapon manufacturers and the automobile industry. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for all of that. He has, if I, if I gave you his credentials, we wouldn’t have time to talk to Mike because he’s a senior partner at the firm, has practiced law for over 30 years, one of the few living attorneys inducted into the trial lawyer hall of fame. He is listed in the publication best lawyers in America and leading American attorney. He’s hosted a nationally syndicated TV show called America’s Lawyer for the past seven years. He tests cases for other attorneys in trial to determine the likelihood for success of similar cases. He’s been involved in almost every major multi-district litigation that involves pharmaceutical drugs. And you are now and you are an author, you’ve done some legal thrillers and welcome to the program, Mike. What a, what a background.
Mike Papantonio: Thank you. Thank you, Frankie. I appreciate that. Yeah, I’m an author, you know, I have a lot of material to pull from. It’s all these cases that I do and that’s what this inhuman trafficking case is all about. It’s a case that.
Frankie Boyer: But Mike, when do you have the time to do it?
Mike Papantonio: Well, you know, it’s, it’s fairly easy, Frankie, because you walk out of court, right, and a judge has made a ruling or something, some bizarre event took place and you almost have a chapter. It’s discipline because you have to then go home and you have to create the module for that chapter. But it all, the books kind of write themselves. For example, the opioid case that we filed, it started the national litigation, a book came out of that was called Law and Addiction. And so that was easy to write because it was all real time. It was happening real time. The depositions, the trial, everything was happening in real time. So it’s, you just have to take advantage of that.
Frankie Boyer: Mike, where are you right now with this book? Because it, is it, I know you can’t say it’s nonfiction because it’s a work that you created, but how much of this new book, Inhuman Trafficking, is real and how much of it is?
Mike Papantonio: Most of it is true. Most of it, it’s actually based, Frankie, on several cases that we’ve already brought that are national cases. They’re, when I say national cases, they’re cases that represent similar events all over the country. For example, the case that is talked about there is where women are recruited from the Ukraine. What ends up happening is they send a recruiter to Ukraine and they set up meetings and they say, how would you like to be in the guest industry in America? So they sign up and they show up here and they put them in a, maybe it’s a greeter at a restaurant. And then they say to them, you know, you could really make a lot more money because we own a strip club two miles from here and you can be a greeter there. Then they put them as a greeter there.
And then they say to them, well, you know, you can make more money if you’re willing to dance on the pole because you can make four times as much money. And then, oh, by the way, Tom here wants to meet you. That’s been watching you on the pole and after he meets Tom, she meets Tom, they disappear. It’s, it’s, you know, that’s where it begins. That’s where their trafficked. So it’s, it’s called a step up and it’s a really common, common way to recruit. Another thing that you’re, that in this book you’re going to hear about, is the, the trucking industry where they load up a semi truck with about 10 girls. They, they break the semi truck, put little rooms in them and the truck makes its way over say I 10 from West to East. And as it’s making its way, it’s calling ahead to the truck stop to let people know they’re going to be there.
People come in from all over, have sex with, is primarily underage girls and leave. And it makes it way, it makes its way from usually LA to the East coast, up to New York. Real ugly story. But, I mean, those are cases we’re actually handling and so the cases are discussed in this book, and we add, you know, the point is a lot of, a lot of intensity is added to that to make it into an interesting read. But, you know, my goal is to have people read these books, I’ve done four of them. One has been on the opioid industry. Another on the, a product called C8, that’s probably in your drinking water where you live, it’s killing people all over the country. A whole host of different cases that we’ve handled and I simply reduce those to, to storylines. And so, this case is in the works right now. A lot of things that you read in that, in that book, are happening right now.
Frankie Boyer: Mike, why are we not seeing this on the news at night? This is newsworthy.
Mike Papantonio: Yeah.
Frankie Boyer: These are important stories. I don’t think most, if you were to ask most Americans, is something like this happening? They would say, there’s really not, it’s not a real big problem. But you and I both know that that’s absolutely not true.
Mike Papantonio: Yeah. It’s a $42 billion industry and to answer your question, the reason you’re not seeing it is because corporate media is dead. There is no more journalism. It’s all, it’s all infotainment. As you may or may not know, I did corporate media for a lot of years. I was a contributor to MSNBC, CNN at times, Fox news, I was the liberal commentator there. And so I’ve seen it firsthand. When, you know, we’re dealing with corporate America here. This isn’t, this isn’t somebody just down the street, some fellow that has two girls that he’s trafficked, this is corporate America involved. One case that you’re going to be, that, that you’re going to be aware of very soon is a company in, in Canada, huge company, that’s financed by Wall Street and the company, what they do is they’re the center piece for distribution of pornography. Mostly underage children that, that is part of that.
But here’s what they do. They call traffickers, that imagine they have a Rolodex and they know where all the traffickers are. They’ve got their telephone numbers. They say, we need a film and the film has to be a 14 year old being raped in a hotel room. Can you do that for us? So they load up four or five girls take them to, you know, a hotel room. Usually it’s going to be a chain that you’re very aware of. I’m not gonna use names here, but you’re going to be very aware of the chain. Maybe even stayed there several times. They rent two suites. They bring in cameras, they bring in lights. These young girls are walking all over the, all over the premises for two weeks and to say that that hotel doesn’t know what’s going on is just ridiculous. So this company that I’m talking about, that, that centralize this whole process, they’re financed by huge financiers out of Wall Street. And so we’re going after them. We’re going after the hotels, because the only way to really, the only way to change things when you’re dealing with almost sociopathic kind of conduct, is to take their toys away from them and their toy is money.
So you take, take that away from them, and sometimes it’ll change them for a little while, but what really has to happen here, Frankie, is we have to start understanding these people are, they’re not only sociopath’s, they’re criminals. They don’t look like criminals. They’re dressed up in nice suits. They have a Rolex watch. They’ve got a Bentley outside. They’ve got MBAs from Yale or Harvard. And they seem to be just, you know, somebody that you want to have a drink with. But truthfully, that’s the contrast between a kid on the corner who has a hoodie on and he might go to prison for life for being caught three times for selling marijuana. We let these folks go because they don’t look like criminals. And the corporate edge of the human trafficking story is huge and my goal is to tell that story, not just in a book, but in a courtroom. And so that’s where we’re headed.
Frankie Boyer: I’m just, my mouth is open. I’m so, I’m so concerned and disturbed of what really is, is happening in this country and I’m thrilled that you’re one of the few that is speaking out. And, but tell us real quickly about this billion dollar industry and why we’re not hearing about it.
Mike Papantonio: Yeah. So it’s a $42 billion industry and the reason we don’t hear about it is because as you’ve probably noticed, Frankie, you’ve been in this business awhile too, corporate media is dead. You know, you can’t, to get, to get a reporter and say, you know, Mary, would you get us this entire story? They just don’t have, they don’t have the interest in doing it. They’re, they would rather tell, tell us what Kim Kardashian is wearing at some celebrity function. It’s, it’s infotainment and they’ve understood that’s what people want, unfortunately. They don’t want to dig too much into all of this. For example, the, the opioid case that we brought, there was, you might remember it just overnight you started seeing all of this information about opioid this and opioid that. Well, it was only after we filed the case and started bringing, you know, started taking discovery.
And then the Washington Post, who we gave information to started really launching the story. So that’s how this all starts. It starts with a book like this, and, you know, then it starts with an interview like this and somebody hears it and says, let me ask more questions and sometimes you shame corporate media into actually doing their job and that’s my hope. This book is designed, hopefully you read it, you’re entertained, but at the same time, Frankie, you walk away and you’ve learned things you did not know. You learn things like the step up process and how they go about, how they go about recruiting women. You learn about how Wall Street’s involved right in the center of all this. But they’re things that you would never think of. You know, you might think of Taken you’ll think of, okay, human trafficking, that wonderful movie Taken. Well, it was a good movie, but it was, it was just such a small part of what’s really happening.
And then they want to say, most people they’re, you know, I call it, well, there’s two, there’s two minds. One is the reptilian mind and that is well, it’s their fault. These girls, it’s their fault. Well, no, most of the time it’s not their fault. And the other one is, is, is where they want to stick their head in the sand and say, this is too ugly for me to think about or to look at. I would rather watch a football game on Sunday. You know, this, I don’t want to think about this. And so sometimes you have to, you have to give them something that entertains and also educates and then they start asking questions and they can use a little bit of empathy and they can use a little compassion. I hired, for example, I hired one of my newest lawyers was, was trafficked when she was 13 years old. Got out of it, went on to get her MBA at UCLA, got her JD at UCLA and is an extraordinary trial lawyer who is in the middle of this fight. But you have to, you have to do more than just pay it lip service and say, oh gee, this is terrible. I wish it didn’t happen. And, everybody can do something, you know.
Frankie Boyer: Yes. You were sharing our story, a story about the tobacco industry. Please go ahead.
Mike Papantonio: Yeah. So the tobacco, the tobacco industry, you asked, how, how do you take a case like this with this kind of scale and actually bring it in for landing? Well, I mean, you know, the tobacco litigation to start it out, we, you know, this firm probably was $28 million into that litigation. And so you have to take some chances. You, you know, you have to say, okay, I’m going to put it on the line here and work my way through it. You have to have it, you have to have a, a really deep bench of trial lawyers, real trial lawyers, not one 800 auto case. One 800 workers’ comp, give us a call. There are, there, there’s a handful of lawyers in this country that handle what we call legacy cases and legacy cases is the kind of case I tried to describe when my daughter asked me, she was 10 years old and she says, dad, what does, what do you, what do you do for living?
Well, you know, I could have said, well, I handle automobile cases and, you know, that’s good, or I have handled comp cases or, or the rewarding thing was I handled cases where 40 dangerous drugs have been taken off the market. Seven ecosystems have been cleaned up. We’ve gotten opioids, you know, we’ve got that under control. We’re trying to, we’re trying to solve human trafficking. See here’s the ugly part of it, Frankie, this is the ugliest part of the story. There are 800,000 lawyers out there. They all have a license. That license gives them the chance to do really wonderful things in this country. But typically what they do is they fall to that lowest common denominator, the person down the street is handling auto cases and they’re handling comp. So that’s all I’m going to do, rather than using that license creatively and saying, what can I do to make a major leap for culture? What can I do to improve society in a way, because I have this license, I have this thing and let me use it in the right way and they’re called legacy cases. And this firm just happens to specialize in just legacy cases.
Frankie Boyer: It’s fascinating. It’s fascinating. And what I’m, I’m loving is your commitment and your passion about these cases and what a difference you are making in all of our lives. Can we talk about the pharmaceutical industry for just a moment because you know and I know that big pharma is so responsible for so much. I don’t know. I just.
Mike Papantonio: Let me, let me put it, let me, let me, let me tell you a story that is the metaphor for big pharma. When I was a young lawyer, five years, maybe out of law school, I was asked to handle a case, it was called Factor VIII. Factor VIII was something that haemophiliacs used to stop their bleeding. The problem was, it was contaminated with HIV virus. We got it off the market in the United States and they took their inventory rather than destroying their inventory, they sent it to Africa, they sent it to South America. They sent it to France and parts of Europe. Thousands of people died. Now, why did that happen? It happened because, you know, it’s hard, it’s hard for you to accept even what I’m saying. But as most cases, I’m sitting across the table with a true sociopath, he’s the CEO of a corporation, but he’s a sociopath.
And if I had a DSM4 in front of me as I’m talking to him, it would be check, check, check, all of these characteristics as a sociopath. Those are the people that come out of MBA schools and say, you know what, uncle Joe got away with this 10 years ago. So I think I can get away with it. Until we have an attorney general in this country who has enough guts to say, no, we’re going to, we’re going to perp walk, uncle Joe. We’re not gonna just make uncle Joe pay a big fine. We’re not gonna make, you know, we’re not going to just, just, just publish the fact that uncle Joe did something wrong. We’re going to put uncle Joe in prison. Yeah. He went to Yale. Yeah. He graduated number two in his class. So what. He’s a criminal and we have to start looking at this like that and we don’t have, we’ve never had a DOJ that has the guts to do it. I was counting on Eric Holder under Obama to do some of this. He was a terrible failure. The guy we have right now is a terrible failure.
Frankie Boyer: Uh, Mike, this has been so fabulous. Congratulations. We thank you so much for all that you do and truly a pleasure talking with you today.
Mike Papantonio: Thank you, Frankie.
Frankie Boyer: We’ll be back in just a moment. Frankie Boyer, Biz Talk radio.