Via The Neil Haley Show: Mike Papantonio is a senior partner with the law firm of Levin Papantonio Rafferty. He has received numerous multi-million dollar verdicts on behalf of victims of corporate malfeasance. His award-winning work handling thousands of mass tort cases throughout the nation has helped make Levin Papantonio Rafferty one of the largest plaintiff law firms in the country.
*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.
Neil Haley: We’re back to the Neil Haley show. And it’s interesting, I love this setup. It’s funny, I always kind of critique Zoom setups and different setups. I’m like, man, this is pretty awesome. And I’m, his studio is awesome. So I’m excited to welcome the program, author Mike Papantonio, author of Inhuman Trafficking. How are you, Mike? Thanks for stopping by.
Mike Papantonio: Doing well, Neil. Thank you.
Neil Haley: Okay, let’s talk about your background because you’re going to educate me more about who you are before we get right into the book. So go ahead and tell me about you.
Mike Papantonio: Yeah, well, I’ve been, I’ve been an attorney for about 40 years and the specialty has been in areas like human trafficking. Matter of fact, we launched the tobacco litigation nationally. I don’t know if you remember that, but that started right here in my law firm and we launched the opioid litigation that’s going on right now, right here from this law firm and probably about 50 of the largest pharmaceutical cases in the country originated right here. It’s just, everybody has their specialty, Neil. Ours is we, we don’t do auto, you know, auto and comp and that type of thing, we, we choose to do cases that we think have a, have a significant social impact and it’s worked for us. The law firm is 67 years old and we’ve done that for a very long time, a lot of times, right underneath the radar. But somebody has to do these cases. Like human trafficking, you’re talking about a $42 billion industry and so we could choose to do nothing or we could use our skillset to come in and try to make it better.
Neil Haley: See, I think that’s fantastic. And then deciding to write a book, Mike, that’s interesting. But before I get to that, I’m just very intrigued by, you know, there’s a lot of lawyers out there and own law firms and different things and they don’t decide to do media. They don’t decide to be experts. What made you want to differentiate yourself in that way from the beginning?
Mike Papantonio: Well, the.
Neil Haley: To talk about some of the stories you talk about.
Mike Papantonio: Yeah. There, there’s something that happens with lawyers right out of law school and they, they get drawn into doing the same thing, the same way that the generation did before them. Fortunately, when I started practicing law, I practiced under a man by the name of Fred Levin, who for many, many years was known as, you know, he was the premier trial lawyer in this country. And I think his goal kind of set in with me and it was to say that, you know, you can do, you can do really well by doing, by doing good. I mean, you can, you can take that, that license that you have, and you can take some risks and you can, you know, put yourself out there and you can rather than handling one auto case, you’re handling tens of thousands of people who’ve been affected by a bad, a bad pharmaceutical or a company that’s come in and completely devastated an entire ecosystem.
So you make those choices early on as a lawyer and I came out of prosecuting and moved into that type of law. That’s all I’ve ever known. I haven’t, I, that’s all the only kind of law I’ve done. And so it’s the, it’s hopefully more law firms will understand that. Right now there’s probably, I’d say at the most 15 law firms in the entire United States that do this at the level that we do it. So that’s where these books come from, Neil. The, the last book that I, the last book I did before Inhuman Trafficking was called, well, it’s called Law and Addiction. And the one before that was called Law and Vengeance. And those were based on big cases that this firm handled and we simply, I’ve simply reduced it into a fiction novel that’s, that I hope is entertaining, but at the same time, I hope they come away from that novel understanding more about that topic.
Neil Haley: Yeah. And I think that’s an important thing when you say more about that topic and that’s something that’s horrible, what’s happening. And so making yourself before we talk about the book, making yourself really your law firm to help in these cases. Is this, is this something that’s a mission of yours because of how awful this certain situations?
Mike Papantonio: Yeah. It’s we, we filed the first big case, the first human trafficking case in the country up in Ohio. In order to bring, in order to bring closure to something like this, Neil, you have to have a central, you have to have a central place to pick your fight. And that’s typically, that’s typically regarded as it’s called a multi-district litigation center and that’s where these cases start and rather than having cases individually filed all over the country, you try to find that centralized place where you can take all the dispositive discovery. You can take the depositions, you can torment the sociopaths who are involved in something like this in litigation. And you never, there’s never a, a finality to that. If I succeed in this, trying to do what I, what I’m trying to do here, it’s going to go on another generation and then the next generation has to pick up and they have to say, well, let’s, let’s see if we can make it better. Let’s see if we can improve on what the, you know, Levin Papantonio did in this case. That’s always been my thought. And I know it sounds pollyannic, but it’s not. It’s genuine. Every day I wake up and I think, well, this is an exciting day that I’m having, I’m not waking up saying I’m going to do a workers’ compensation case or a automobile case or a divorce case. These are cases that you get excited about doing and it keeps you interested in practicing law.
Neil Haley: All right. So let’s kind of jump into this, Mike, the book, you said you wrote another book before, and then you said, this is, this one. What makes you excited about this story?
Mike Papantonio: Okay, here, here’s what gets me excited. I think this is a topic that’s been ignored for way too long.
Neil Haley: Yes, way too long.
Mike Papantonio: I think what most people don’t understand is what we would refer to as corporate media, you know, the ABC’s NBC’s, CBS’s, they’ve become dysfunctional. They really have. I mean, I’ve been in the media business most of my adult life in some form or fashion and what’s happened is we don’t, you know, when I first started practicing law, before I started practicing law, I actually, there were, there were almost 60 individual independent organizations that delivered the media in America. Now it’s down to three. Okay. So those three drive, those three drive the entire narrative. If they don’t get it, if they don’t pay attention to it, nobody pays attention to it because we’re so set on taking our marching orders from what, you know, Rachel Maddow says on MSNBC, or so-and-so says on ABC, whatever it is. That’s, that’s to us, what the news is. And that system is totally utterly dysfunctional.
And the only way that we can get around that is to do things like this, to write a book and say, hopefully you entertain somebody and they come away and they understand stuff that they’re never going to find in the media. These are cases that we handle. We’re, we’re in the, we’re in the inside of what’s taking place. We’re going to court. We’re walking away from court and I’m writing a chapter about what happened and, and spinning it into that fiction story. So everything in that book is accurate. I mean, it’s, it really happened. It’s not, I mean, when I talk about the girls that were trafficked from the Ukraine, it happened what 60 miles down the road from us. When I talk about the trucking case that is, is part of that book where, where girls are trucked from LA all the way across the United States to the Eastern seaboard. And they’re put in the back of 18 wheelers with individual bedrooms and they pull into a truck stop and the, the message goes out. You can have sex with a 14 year old girl if you come down to the truck stop. Those are real cases. But have you ever heard of it? Most people have never heard of this.
Neil Haley: Yeah.
Mike Papantonio: And so.
Neil Haley: Unless they, unless they found out about it and then talked about it, but it’s not in the news. It’s not.
Mike Papantonio: No, not at all.
Neil Haley: It’s not something they want to cover in the news and because there’s no finality to it. The news wants something or something that’s controversial that’s going to have people both engage on both sides. When it’s something like this that everyone wants to end human trafficking, it’s something like everyone wants to end cancer, but they’re not going to have cancer coverage all day long. So there is.
Mike Papantonio: You have a better chance of understanding what Kim Kardashian won to a, wore to a celebrity function, than you do getting from the media anything about what we’re talking about right here, because it simply has become a business. They’ve done away with all their investigative journalists. I mean, you have a handful of them out there. And, you know, the Matt Taibbi’s and the Green and Glenn Greenwald’s and those folks, they’re a minority nowadays. They’re not a majority. And so, unfortunately these stories are rarely told.
Neil Haley: Right. And so, again, this is fictional that you’re basically telling stories, but with different names and making, and making it an entertaining book, correct? Is that correct?
Mike Papantonio: Yeah, that’s always been my goal. The first book I wrote was Law and Disorder, and that was, in there I talked about the HIV case that we handled, where, where corporate, corporations had created a pharmaceutical that was supposed to help stop bleeding for hemophiliacs. They knew that it was infected with HIV virus and sold it anyway, until we caught them, they pulled it off the market in the United States and then they sold it all over Europe and South America. Nobody went to prison, you see, we, we don’t, we don’t regard them as criminals, Neil. They don’t look like criminals and we don’t regard them as criminals anymore. We have, we have a Justice Department that unless it’s low hanging fruit would never go after the people, for example, who are responsible for the opioid catastrophe in this country, because they don’t look like criminals, you see. We’d rather, we’d rather, we’d rather arrest some kid on the street corner with a hoodie on who’s selling three ounces of marijuana.
Neil Haley: Oh gosh. And that’s where the problem is that people can get away with things. And this is a terrible thing. And, or get no time at all. Like that rape case that we heard about that guy, that kid, that, that guy, that with four girls and got no, no punishment.
Mike Papantonio: Great, great example, isn’t it? Yeah. Great example.
Neil Haley: Yeah. Tremendous example of it and it’s just, it’s not fair. But that’s why you’re out there fighting for us, right?
Mike Papantonio: Well, I’m giving, doing my best shot. I’m giving my best shot, Neil.
Neil Haley: Exactly. And so the entertain, entertainment value of the book and keeping people on the edge of their seat while still providing people so they can think about really this human trafficking is happening. It’s not an international problem. It’s a world, it’s a US problem and it comes all over the place and unless they stop people. Who are the people involved mostly in doing this?
Mike Papantonio: Well, one case that we’re working on right now, for example, I can’t give you the names, but I can give you the situation. There’s a, there’s an organization in Canada who is like the central hub for all child pornography throughout the United States and in Europe. They are not just child porn, but every, every iteration of porn. They have, they have a Rolodex, Neil. They know who the traffickers are all over the country. So what they’re able to do is call some perv in, you know, LA and say, we need films of some of your girls in a hotel room being raped. It’s best if they’re crying, it’s best if they’re 14 year old, it’s best if they’re under, under distress. Could you do that for us? So they, they go to a chain hotel, they rent a suite for two weeks. They bring in cameras and lights and girls, and they do that and then they send it to that organization in Canada. Now here’s where it really gets interesting. That organization in Canada is being financed by Wall Street.
Neil Haley: What?
Mike Papantonio: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So, so there again, you probably never seen the story. The only place, the only place that story was even picked up was in Europe. The US media bunch of dolts.
Neil Haley: You can’t get it, you can’t get it I picked up by all this different now, because things have changed?
Mike Papantonio: Well, I don’t know.
Neil Haley: Because of social media, the power of, yeah go ahead.
Mike Papantonio: Neil, I’m hopeful. That’s all I can tell you is I’m hopeful. And I can’t stress to you enough we have a dysfunctional media delivery system in this country.
Neil Haley: Right.
Mike Papantonio: And to find, to find out this. Huh?
Neil Haley: I think, I think that the traditional media is dead. That you’re going to have to use social media and, and influence.
Mike Papantonio: What you’re doing right here. What you’re doing right.
Neil Haley: Exactly. Exactly. But even to the point of social media, getting this things to go viral. What would be sad if YouTube would silent this, silence this.
Mike Papantonio: Oh. Do you know.
Neil Haley: We had a story like.
Mike Papantonio: Do you know what my, one of my producers just walked in 10 minutes ago and said that one of the interviews that I did for PBS on human trafficking, that social media might not show it because we use the term human trafficking.
Neil Haley: What? So what, what’s the, is there a politically correct way?
Mike Papantonio: It’s, it’s all part of, you know, what I call the snowflake cancel culture that we think is good for us. It’s killing us.
Neil Haley: So what are they calling it instead of, instead of human trafficking?
Mike Papantonio: Well, I don’t know. I haven’t figured that out, Neil. I haven’t figured.
Neil Haley: We need to have another conversation offline again, see how we can do some stuff.
Mike Papantonio: I haven’t even, I haven’t even figured out what passes the smell test for these buffoons that are running, you know, metering, the, the YouTube or Twitter or whatever. It’s, it’s like you have a bunch of morons at, you know, at the controls. How would you not tell this story? How would you say no? We can’t tell.
Neil Haley: Right. So the celebrities there, there’s celebrities out there helping in that process. Dean Cain I’ve had on my show talking about it.
Mike Papantonio: Well good.
Neil Haley: He really is, he’s a really big proponent of ending human trafficking. And there was another guy that got in trouble, but he doesn’t, he has a great foundation involved and I can’t think of his name, but I interviewed as well, that’s big on that process. But there’s not enough out there. I got educated by talking to them, but I knew certain things. But this is ridiculous. And, and you’re the one person trying out there. But that story you just told me, is that available? I know we we’re suppose to talk about the book.
Mike Papantonio: No you, the story that I, the only place you’re going to find that story is in the lawsuits that we filed.
Neil Haley: Until it gets through, you’ll never see that story.
Mike Papantonio: Listen Neil, what, how, how much did you really know about the opioid crisis until we filed that lawsuit?
Neil Haley: None, nothing.
Mike Papantonio: Did you know that there were CEOs making decisions understanding that 150 people were dying every day from drug overdoses and that their salespeople were sending them emails, saying we have a catastrophe in the area that I’m working, where we’re having 10 deaths a day because they’re dying on our products.
Neil Haley: No, I did, I did not know that story.
Mike Papantonio: Of course not.
Neil Haley: No, I mean, we knew opioids were addictive. There were doctors out there telling it kind of like the COVID, COVID thing, which I’m not going to get into in this conversation. But there are alternatives to the, the mem, memorandums out there.
Mike Papantonio: Sure there are.
Neil Haley: Involving COVID. Maybe at one point in time, you’ll be litigating that once this whole thing goes through. I’m telling you.
Mike Papantonio: Well, you know, Bobby Kennedy who used to, Bobby Kennedy and I used to do a show together called Ring of Fire. He’s, I think he’s got a book coming out.
Neil Haley: I’d love to interview Bobby Kennedy.
Mike Papantonio: Yeah. Well, you ought to, I think my guy can set. I think one of our folks can set that up for you. But he’s, you know, he’s, he’s asking questions about the whole, God forbid we should ask questions, right?
Neil Haley: But see, but see they call that conspiracy when they see people like Bobby Kennedy, but come on now. What is conspiracy? What is truth? Because people with power, as you know, as a lawyer can control the whole narrative. The more money you have, the more you can get away with.
Mike Papantonio: It’s called the golden rule, the person with gold makes all the rules. Look, this.
Neil Haley: All right. So give us, give us the storyline quick of the book. I love this conversation we’re having.
Mike Papantonio: Well, the book, the book starts off with what, as I said, it happened. Look, here, there’s a, there’s an entire industry. This is where the book starts out. They send folks to Ukraine, maybe. They interview folks that are Ukraine. They say, how would you like to be part of the service industry? We can get you an H2B come over the United States. You’d be an H2B worker and we’re going to start you in the, in the, in that business. So the book begins with that story. It begins with the girl who’s brought over here believing that she’s going to be in the service industry. She starts off for two weeks at a restaurant. Then she’s moved to a strip club. And then she’s a greeter at the strip club. They say to her, this is called the step-up, Neil. This is called the step-up. They tell them.
Well, how would you, you can make more money if you’ll rather than be a greeter, dance. If you’ll dance on the pole. And then the, oh, yes, you can make more money if you’ll come off the pole and meet Tom out here in the audience. And once she meets Tom, it’s all over, we never see them again. Their life in trafficking is maybe five years. They’ll live five years till they die of overdoses, till they dove sexually transmitted disease or suicide or homicide. So that’s just part of the story. We know that, that’s, that happened down the road from us. Okay. Now North of us is the trucking business and the trucking business that I’ve just described to you is going on as we speak, because these big trucking stops they love to bring in business. You know, if they can bring truckers in there, they sell fuel. They sell food, they sell rooms. I mean, it’s all about money, Neil. It’s all about, it’s not some cat out on a street corner who has two girls working for him.
Neil Haley: No.
Mike Papantonio: That’s the most misunderstood issue about trafficking ever.
Neil Haley: And then the ma, and the mafia is involved, meaning like the Russian mafia and stuff like that are involved a lot in that. There was a movie on I think Netflix that I watched before or Amazon, but also I’m thinking of these stories and when you, you brought up about other instances about the human trafficking problem and process. But it’s just not out there and they’ve done shows on this too. Right? Exactly. I think that they highlighted that in a, in a, in a TV program. But it doesn’t matter as long as the mainstream media, they’re thinking this is not real when it’s real. And that’s what you’re trying to get your book to do.
Mike Papantonio: Yeah. Yeah. Well, I’ve, look, the, the, there’s so many parts of this. What, what do you think. Look, I used to do, I was used to appear on MSNBC with a fellow named Ed Schultz. Do you remember Ed Schultz? Big guy.
Neil Haley: Yes. And how did you get along at MSNBC? Because I think at times you could have been budding heads on MSNBC.
Mike Papantonio: Oh, that’s what I’m about to tell you. Every time I’d want to tell a story about one of their advertisers, I’d be in the short count 10, 9, 8, 7 Pap we got to go to another story now and they’d throw out something like constitutional law, because I was getting ready to talk about one of their advertisers Bayer corporation or Merck corporation and how it was killing people, how people were dying because of their products. So they would stop the segment. And the story would never be told because Merck or Bayer was paying them $10 million a year to advertise. That’s what you have with corporate media right now. That’s where you are. I do a show of all places on Russian television. RT America is where I do show called America’s Lawyer. Why do I do that? Because nobody tells me what I can or can’t say. No, even when I did stories about Putin and, and, in, in his, his involved, his involvement in Ukraine, nobody said you can’t do that story.
Neil Haley: Really?
Mike Papantonio: Of course.
Neil Haley: So Russian media is not, is not censoring you?
Mike Papantonio: No. It’s the most, it’s the most misunderstood issue. Look, turn on MSNBC and you would think the Russians are getting ready to invade any moment. Listen to Rachel Maddow, who by the way.
Neil Haley: So, so, so that’s not true?
Mike Papantonio: Huh, huh?
Neil Haley: So, China and Russia, that’s not true in your pay, take. That China’s ready to.
Mike Papantonio: Come on, man. Are you kidding me? It’s all about, look, we’re getting way off topic. But the, the.
Neil Haley: Yeah, I love it. Now I have to have you back on and talk again and come on. Okay. So let’s go back to the book. I, see, I like this. Okay. So basically I was saying, you’re talking about different ways, the truck stops, different places for human trafficking. A way to, strip clubs use it in a way to attract and then move them out into something else.
Mike Papantonio: Yeah, sure.
Neil Haley: And this process. And what about the adult industry? How much human trafficking is happening in the adult industry as well?
Mike Papantonio: You know, here’s where people misunderstand. They, they roll all pornography into this. Now there are plenty of women who are trafficked that say it’s a big part of it. It probably is, but it’s not nearly as big as all of the nuanced things that I’m talking to you about, like a hotel chain that knows that they’re the place to go for, you know, for any organization that wants to do films in their, you know, in their hotel or go to Vegas for God’s sakes. They’ve got entire floors in some of these, in some of these hotels where they have women up there for the folks, they call whales. Whales, somebody that comes in there and loses a million dollars gambling. And they have girls available for them. There’s all types of iterations. You know, I get the porn industry. Yeah. I guess it’s a part of it, but it’s not nearly the part that everybody thinks it is.
For example, the example I gave you of the trafficker who takes the girls, his, his, his trafficked girls to a hotel room and, and shoots these films of whatever, you know, these folks in Canada want they’re the central distribution, right. Okay. A woman who makes the choice to do that, she says, this is what I do for a living. Okay. I wanted, I choose to do this for living because I make good money. Well, she may have, she may get paid $600 for sending that up to be used. She does that by choice. These traffickers have these girls that, you know, they don’t get anything from that.
Neil Haley: No.
Mike Papantonio: Other than that their life’s in total abyss. But so, so the porn industry, they choose to do that most of the time. Now is there, is there a place where the two come together? Absolutely there is. But is that the major part of the problem? The answer is no, I don’t think it is.
Neil Haley: So finding out. So people will be entertained, but also based on the characters and what you’ve done, but also really know, oh my gosh, this is really happening. And that’s your hope, your goal, right?
Mike Papantonio: I hope so. I hope somebody says there’s, look, it’s, it’s the old thing that you’ve heard all your life it’s that, you know, evil only in wrong. It only, it only exists because good people choose to do nothing. Everybody can do something. And so sometimes it’s difficult to do something. It’s, it’s contrary to what your schedule is of the day or what your, you know, what your goal is for that year or whatever it may be. It’s contrary to your lifestyle. Everybody can do something. And so, that’s, you know, a friend of mine, well let me just tell you this. The, the civil rights, the civil rights issue, for example, we think that there was only one thing or maybe two things that brought all of that to culmination. You know, we think that, okay, it was Rosa Parks, or it was some folks that wanted to sit at a, a cafeteria and they were told they had to leave. That’s not how it works. It’s everything. It’s, it’s the protests. It’s the articles that are written newspapers. It’s the stories that are told on TV. It’s all of these things that converge and when they converge, you have this major leap, you have a social change that takes place in a major leap. There’s nothing too minor, Neil. There’s nothing too minor to affect change.
Neil Haley: All right. The best place we can purchase the book and learn more about you, where can we go?
Mike Papantonio: Well, you can go any bookstore, you know, Amazon’s carrying it. You can go, it’s going to be in most bookstores. It’s a, it’s Skyhorse, which is part of Simon Schuster. And so they distribute most everywhere.
Neil Haley: And we appreciate it. And best place, do you have your own podcast and stuff?
Mike Papantonio: Uh.
Neil Haley: You said you.
Mike Papantonio: I have a show called America’s Lawyer, but I don’t pitch it there. It might, you could go to MikePapantonio.com and you could learn everything you want to learn about the book.
Neil Haley: You’re listening to Neil Haley show and watching the Neil Haley show and we’ll be back in just a moment.