James Bilsborrow, a Weitz & Luxenberg partner and practice group co-chair, is speaking at a virtual event titled “PFAS Litigation and Regulatory Developments Conference.” It…Read More
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Weitz & Luxenberg goes up against the most nefarious, reckless corporations. These corporations care about one thing and one thing only — making money. Their employees’ welfare never enters their mind. When I achieve a settlement for my clients and take money from the defendants, I don’t lose any sleep. The way I see it, these corporations owe my clients big time — they put my clients’ lives in danger in order to make a profit and now it’s time to pay up.
Rett Bergmark describes himself as relentless. When it comes to fighting on behalf of his clients — especially those exposed to asbestos — defendants beware. “If they see me coming, they better pay or get out of the way,” he insists.
Mr. Bergmark has earned a reputation in California as being a plaintiffs’ asbestos litigator to fear. Probably because he has over 20 years asbestos litigation experience taking on the largest corporations. And he will stop at nothing in going after the justice his clients deserve.
He joined W&L in 2021, bringing with him two decades of experience representing clients who have been harmed by asbestos exposure and other personal injuries. In managing hundreds of high-value cases, he helped negotiate settlements of millions of dollars.
One of his greatest and most memorable successes was a $4.5 million settlement. His client had been a union insulator in San Francisco. Roughly 40 to 50 defendants were alleged to have contributed to the lung cancer his client suffered.
“This was the most satisfying win,” Mr. Bergmark explains. “Achieving the recovery for my client’s family was hugely rewarding. But on top of that, my client knew he mattered.
“He loved cars. And when he received his settlement money, he went out and bought a Porsche. He was thrilled. He got to drive his Porsche for 6 months before he passed. That was his moment, and I was honored to give him that satisfaction.”
“I fell into asbestos litigation by luck,” says Mr. Bergmark. “It didn’t take me long to fall in love with the clients and this work. I’ve handled personal injury cases before, and there’s something incredibly rewarding about helping people who have been harmed by the greed and lack of consideration of others. But asbestos litigation allows me to hit corporations who caused harm to hard working victims. They caused harm through negligence and lack of care, sometimes with the most deplorable intentions. This work drives me like no other.”
“Our clients are some of the best of the best, and the defendant companies are some of the worst of the worst. Our clients did not place themselves in a situation to bring this harm on to themselves. They entrusted their health and safety to businesses that made, distributed, sold, and handled products — and specified how they should be used — by and around my clients. But my clients were not provided knowledge of the risk, or appreciation of the deadly nature, of the products to which they were exposed.
“The corporations who abused and betrayed that trust take callous disregard and recklessness to a whole different level. They put their employees’ lives in danger every day just to save money so they can make even more money for their owners and shareholders. Their actions are beyond contempt,” Mr. Bergmark emphasizes.
“I want to demonstrate to those companies our clients’ lives are worthwhile. I can’t replace their lives. I can’t replace their lungs. I can’t take away their worry about their bills and their family’s future,” points out Mr. Bergmark.
“All I can do is take away every bit of money from these big corporations my clients deserve.”
“My favorite part of asbestos litigation is meeting with clients for the very first time. I want to visit them in their homes, walk around their living room and basement. Spend time with them. Really get to know them,” describes Mr. Bergmark.
“Everything starts with gaining their trust. Getting them to fill me in on the good, the bad, and the ugly. Tell me their stories,” he continues.
“I want to draw out their memories. Like pulling a thread, unraveling pieces of their experiences, their memories, often over a lifetime. To get to the source. Find the information I need to help them.”
“And then use that information when I’m deposing defendants’ representatives, to make them squirm. Give them that look that says, ‘I know you’re full of B.S.,’” Mr. Bergmark concludes.
“Sometimes you have to go way back. Even to a client’s childhood memories. Even if something seems small or unrelated,” discloses Mr. Bergmark.
“You need to pay attention to the minutiae, the little things. It’s in the details where you sometimes find the very thing you need to prove your client was exposed to a particular asbestos product.
“The defense will always try to cover up, keep hidden, conceal. I’m always trying to uncover the reasons behind the motive to put this deadly product in the hands of people. Find the defense’s weaknesses. Bring out into the open the very things they’re hoping I won’t unearth,” he declares.
Before joining Weitz & Luxenberg, Mr. Bergmark worked for multiple law firms overseeing asbestos litigation cases. He has also worked for plaintiffs’ law firms handling other personal injury matters including car accidents, premise liability for falls, and dog bites. He also has legal experience handling criminal defense cases and employment litigation. In total, he has been practicing law for more than 25 years.
When he began handling asbestos litigation, Mr. Bergmark knew he’d found his niche. Asbestos litigation is highly specialized. Firms thoroughly research defendants. Accumulate knowledge. Learn where the skeletons in their closets are.
“Ideally, we build on and add to each other’s knowledge, information, and expertise,” according to Mr. Bergmark. “I love the teamwork, this sense we all need to work together. By sharing information, not only do we help our current clients, we help our future clients.”
Outside the office, Mr. Bergmark’s college-age daughters are two of his greatest loves. He is married and reveals he and his wife make a great team. They know each other really well.
In addition, he loves gardening. Not only does he have his own vegetable garden, he plants and harvests actual fruit trees, which is an anomaly for a guy who grew up on the streets of Oakland, California. He’s also a big fan of old punk rock and music from the 70s and 80s and devoted to Oakland sports teams — the Athletics, the Warriors and even the Raiders.
Mr. Bergmark is licensed to practice law in California. He earned his J.D. from the Santa Clara University School of Law in Santa Clara, California, and his Bachelor of Science from the University of California—Davis.
Rett D.B. Bergmark will be happy to review your case.