Monsanto loses Third Pesticide Case

(April 15, 2019)  Monsanto lost another pesticide case last week, making it the third time in less than nine months that the company has lost a court trial over its poison products. The first two jury decisions against Monsanto in the last year were in the US, for several million dollars each over Roundup. This third win for plaintiffs came from a French jury over Monsanto’s Lasso weed killer. That jury ruled Monsanto was responsible for poisoning a local farmer. Actual monetary damages in the case are still pending.

This third Monsanto loss stemmed from 2012 when a French court first found Monsanto guilty of poisoning Paul Francois.  The man had filed suit against Monsanto in 2007 after he developed neurological problems from using Monsanto’s Lasso weed killer. In 2012 a jury found Monsanto guilty in the case, but Monsanto refused to pay for damages; so Mr. Francois was forced to keep fighting.

Monsanto Appeal

Though the French man appears to have finally brought the biotech bully from St. Louis, MO to justice, Monsanto is virtually certain to appeal again. The company always appeals any decision against it, always denies responsibility for its crimes against nature and humanity, always blames those who use the company’s poison products when those products turn out to harm the user. Or else Monsanto claims the injury that the jury or court rules was caused by Monsanto was not caused by Monsanto, or that the product-related injury is so rare that it doesn’t merit damages because every product made is potentially hazardous.

Monsanto Lassoes Plaintiff’s Health

Mr. Francois said he began experiencing problems that included blackouts, headaches and a loss of balance and memory after he inhaled fumes from Monsanto’s Lasso weed killer, which is now banned.

Monsanto appealed the 2012 court decision and lost in 2015; so the company appealed again, resulting in this third round loss on April 11, 2019.

“I won, and I’m happy, but at what cost?” Mr. Francois told reporters following the verdict.

Monsanto’s Legal Harassment

Mr. Francois denounced what he called years of “legal harassment” by Monsanto, which can still appeal the ruling by a top French appeals court, the Cour de Cassation.

Mr. Francois called the ruling “a message to the government.”  He urged his government to ban other toxic pesticides that contain glyphosate, which is the main active ingredient listed in Monsanto’s best-selling poison, Roundup.  Though the regulators (like the US EPA) and the courts often see it that way, glyphosate is not the only relevant ingredient, given surfactants and other so-called “inert” ingredients, which, when mixed with glyphosate, increase by as much as 1,000x the potency of the poison.

“History will judge [the government] for not acting,” said Mr. Francois.  He referred to a campaign pledge by President Emmanuel Macron to phase out glyphosate in France, a pledge which the seasoned politico backed down on last year. Monsanto’s control of politicians is legion, and it has undoubtedly grown since the company’s acquisition by the German giant Bayer company last year.  Historically, Bayer is a spinoff sister company of the chemical giant IG Farben, which was convicted of war crimes following WWII, for its execrable practices which included the use of political prisoners for slave labor at its chemical plants. The company also produced Zyklon-B  gas for the extermination chambers at Auschwitz, Belzec, and elsewhere across Eastern Europe.

Injured by Banned Monsanto Product

Mr. Francois said he fell ill in 2004 after accidentally inhaling fumes from a vat full of Lasso, a monochlorobenzene-based weedkiller that was legal in France until 2007, but which had already been banned in 1985 in Canada and in 1992 in Belgium and Britain.

Fr. Francois said Monsanto was aware of Lasso’s dangers long before it was withdrawn from the French market. He sued Monsanto for more than one million euros ($1.13 million) for chronic neurological damage that required long hospital stays.

Monsanto Failed to Warn Farmer

The court in Lyon, southeastern France, rejected Monsanto’s appeal but did not rule on how much Monsanto might have to pay.  A full financial penalty will be determined in a separate ruling.

The court did order Monsanto to pay 50,000 euros immediately for Mr. Francois’s legal fees. It ruled Monsanto should have clearly indicated on Lasso’s labeling and instructions for use “a notice on the specific dangers of using the product in vats and reservoirs”.

“The plaintiff’s assumed technical knowledge does not excuse the lack of information on the product and its harmful effects.”  The court added: “A farmer is not a chemist.”

Following the verdict, a lawyer for Monsanto in France said Monsanto would probably appeal. Parent company Bayer confirmed it was weighing an appeal.

Monsanto said in a statement: “Supposing that Paul Francois was accidently exposed to Lasso, by definition such exposure is rare.”

Monsanto faces Thousands of Lawsuits

Monsanto faces thousands of US lawsuits over glyphosate exposure.  Last month it was ordered by a San Francisco jury to pay some $80 million to a retiree suffering from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Last summer, a California jury ordered Monsanto to pay a former school groundskeeper $289 million (later reduced to $78 million) after it found the company responsible for the man’s diagnosis of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Related

Share

Conroe, Texas Priest named in Sex Abuse Lawsuit

(April 6, 2019)  A Conroe, Texas priest was named in a civil lawsuit yesterday in a sex abuse case filed in Houston’s Harris County Courthouse. The plaintiff – referred to as “J.R.” in the petition – is an adult male who now lives in Galveston. Defendants are the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Conroe; and Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Galveston, Houston – which employed Father Manuel LaRosa-Lopez, who was known as “Fr. Manuel” when he was working for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston in Conroe.

Father Manuel LaRosa-Lopez first came to the greater pubic’s attention when he was arrested by Conroe police last year for allegedly sexually abusing minors.

J.R. vs. Sacret Heart Catholic Church

The lawsuit petition reads that “Fr. Emanuel and other employees of the Defendants (were) obligated to arrange, render, and coordinate the religious and educational care of the children enrolled in (the school).”

The Defendants had, says the petition, “total responsibility for the protection and prevention of the numerous acts of sexual mental and physical abuse by (clergy) member, Fr. Manuel.”

The Sacred heart Catholic church diocese is charged with having knowledge of Fr. Manuel’s sexual abuse of several students, and then hiding that knowledge from civil authorities and putting him back in circulation, where he was able to abuse other children.

Father Manuel LaRosa-Lopez

J.R., the petition alleges, was abused in 2000, eight years after the first incidence of Fr. Manuels’ sexual abuse of minors was first revealed to church officials.

In 1992, a sixth grade boy accused Fr. Manuel of inappropriately touching him. The church then hired an attorney to investigate whether the Church was required to notify Child Protective Services.  Archbishop Emeritus Joseph Fiorenza wrote to an attorney saying a psychological exam would be conducted on Fr. Manuel before he was re-admitted into the seminary. The wayward priest then spent nine months in the Shalom Recovery Center. He was re-admitted to the seminary in the spring of 1993.

In 1999 and 2000, an underage male and female accused Fr. Manuel of sexual abuse. The female victim and her family reported the abuse in 2001 and then moved to Israel. Fr. Manuel then went back to the Shalom Recovery Center for nine more months, from April 2001 to Jan. 2002.

Boy Abused during Confession

J.R., says the petition, was abused by Fr. Manuel during the summer of 2000.  Then 15, the boy had gone to make a confession, as many Catholics regularly do, to a priest in the confessional booth.  Rather than hearing J.R.’s confession and then offering guidance or absolution through an assignment of prayers and penance, Fr. Manuel attempted to engage the boy in a profane conversation about sex with a same-sex partner.

J.R. said that he was confused by the questions and wondered if this was part of a new confessional process.  The 15-year-old did not respond to any of the several questions the priest asked him. Fr. Manuel then opened the partition window between them in the booth and exposed himself to J.R.

J.R. came forward after he saw in the news that Fr. Manuel had been arrested.  Shortly before that arrest, J.R. had confided his abuse at the hands of Fr. Manuel to a therapist.

Statute of Limitations

Sexual abuse cases brought more than two years after the alleged crime can often be successfully defended under statute of limitations laws in Texas.  However, writes J.R’s. lawyer, David Matthews, in the lawsuit petition:

“Defendants are prevented from relying on any statute of limitations defense by virtue of their acts of fraudulent concealment, because of Defendants’ knowledge of the wrongful acts of Fr. Manuel, while allowing him contact with trusting children, their representations that Fr. Manuel was fit for priesthood and supervision of children, their silence on his known sexual abuse, and their fixed purpose to conceal the wrong.“

Texas Priest named in Sex Abuse Lawsuit

The petition demands a jury trial. The case is J.R., Plaintiff v. Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Conroe and Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.

Related

Share

Deadly Crosby Plant Explosion

(April 3, 2019)   Early this morning, 26 different agencies were investigating a deadly explosion that hit Crosby, Texas yesterday.  One man was killed and two more were hospitalized after an explosion around 10:45 a.m. rattled the southeast Texas community. The explosion was apparently sparked by a transfer line that ignited a tank full of a chemical called isobutylene.

James Earl Mangum “Bubba”

The man killed was 27-year-old James Earl Mangum, nicknamed Bubba.  Reports say Mr. Mangum may have been attempting to fix an isobutylene leak in the plant when it exploded.

Isobutylene Danger

Isobutylene is a highly flammable colorless gas that can cause dizziness, drowsiness and unconsciousness. Benzene was also reported to have been burning yesterday.

The Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office reported that the fire was contained by 4:20 p.m., but officials this morning were still keeping the public away from the plant. Cautionary roadblocks went up in case of another flare up of the type which occurred just two weeks ago in the ship channel explosion and fire in Deer Park.  The two people injured in yesterday’s explosion are reportedly in critical condition.

Charges Filed against KMCO
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a petition last night against KMCO for violations of the Texas Clean Air Act. In addition, Harris County Fire Marshalls Office issued a subpoena to the plant as part of their investigation. The subpoena will preserve documents related to KMCO and to aid investigators in figuring out the cause of the fire.

EPA, TCEQ Weigh in
The Environmental Protection Agency is monitoring air quality. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) also sent emergency response people, along with an air quality van.

TCEQ Executive Director Toby Baker said: “I applaud the attorney general for acting swiftly on my requests to hold KMCO fully responsible.”

KHOU 11 reported that employees and residents in the area were badly shaken up by the explosion. A KMCO employee identified as “Justin” told KHOU 11: “It was terrifying. . . There’s always a danger, but you never expect it to happen.”  Justin said employees made a mad dash for the exits.

History of Violations: $3.5 Million Plus
Federal court records show KMCO was criminally convicted in 2016 for two counts of knowingly violating the Clean Air Act.  The company was fined $3.5 million, including $200,000 in a community service payment to the Southern Environmental Enforcement Network (SEEN).

The company was fined for failing to monitor leaks of ground-level ozone (smog) producing air pollutants at its chemical processing facility in Crosby from 2008 to 2012. KMCO also admitted that it falsified records to secure permits. According to court records, KMCO also operates under the names of Crosby LP and Ramsey Properties. A sister company, KTX LP, was also charged in the case for a different explosion in Port Arthur.

KMCO was also charged with air pollution violations in 1986 in Harris County District Court. It pleaded no contest and paid a $300 fine. Harris County sued KMCO in that case and has also sued it twice more more for pollution crimes. A case filed in 2017 is still pending. KMCO also has been fined nearly $400,000 by state and U.S. regulators.

OSHA has fined KMCO roughly $250,000. The company was cited for 66 violations at its Crosby plant from 2010 to 2013. One of the cases was opened on Dec. 24, 2010, the same day two plant employees were injured. The company was fined more than $65,000 in that case for 15 serious violations, including safety management of highly hazardous chemicals, hazardous waste, emergency response, and control of hazardous energy.

KMCO has also been fined about $140,000 by TCEQ for 11 violations. The highest fine was for $35,370 in 2013 when the company released too much carbon monoxide emissions and didn’t conduct stack tests.

Deadly Crosby Plant Explosion
The KMCO web site says the company “delivers superior specialty chemical manufacturing and toll processing services to many of the world’s largest chemical companies. Our facility has batch and continuous distillation and multiple reaction capabilities producing over 900 million pounds per year of toll manufacturing products.”

KMCO owns plants in Crosby and also in Port Arthur, Texas. The Crosby plant – located at 16503 Ramsey Road off Crosby Dayton Road near Highway 90 – employs more than 180 people full-time. It contains more than 600 tanks (minus one or two after the latest explosion and fire), 28 reactors, 250 rail storage areas.

Chemical Production: Anti Freeze & More
The Crosby plant produces antifreeze; brake fluid; oil field-, glycol-, and cement-grinding products.

Related

Share

Monsanto loses second Roundup Trial – $80 Million Verdict

(March 28, 2019) A California jury yesterday ordered Monsanto to pay more than $80 million to a man who developed non-Hodgkins lymphoma after using Roundup weedkiller poison.  It was the second of two trials which Monsanto has now lost over its best-known product.

After a day of deliberations, the jury found Monsanto guilty on a failure-to-warn claim, a design-defect claim, and a negligence claim.  They voted unanimously to award plaintiff Edwin Hardeman $200,967 in economic damages, roughly $5 million in future and past economic damages, and $75 million in punitive damages. He had used Roundup for more than two decades.

Monsanto is now 0-2 in Roundup trials.  This second trial was the first in federal court against Monsanto, which also lost the first state court trial over Roundup last summer, in a $289 million verdict later reduced to $78.5 million.

“A jury has spoken twice after hearing evidence from both sides,” said attorney David Matthews, whose law firm is handling Roundup lawsuits against Monsanto.  “They have loudly denounced this pesticide as causing cancer.  We hope Monsanto will finally listen.  Our health is our wealth. It must not be needlessly compromised.”

Controversial Two-part Trial Format

Unlike the first trial, this one featured a controversial two-part format (against the plaintiff’s wishes) in a curious “bifurcation” arrangement.  The first part, dubbed “causation,” ended on May 19 (see: Down goes Monsanto!) when the jury ruled unaimously that Roundup was a substantial factor in causing Mr. Hardeman’s cancer. That ruling sent the trial into a second phase which allowed the plaintiff’s side to offer some (but far from all) evidence of Monsanto’s secret moves to control worldwide media spin over Roundup, hire ghostwriters to promote Roundup while posing as disinterested third parties, and massage and manipulate federal EPA regulators.

In the second phase, the plaintiff’s side was able to show the jury evidence of how Monsanto was aware, since at least 1980, of five epidemiological studies, seven animal studies, three oxidative stress studies, and 14 genotoxicity studies that linked Roundup products to cancer. Lawyers for the plaintiff in closing Monsanto never warned consumers and refused to conduct its own long-term research because the company was afraid of what it would find.

Monsanto Rebuttal

Monsanto’s attorneys argued that glyphosate, Roundup’s only active ingredient listed on the product, is the most studied pesticide in the world and no health organizations or regulatory body had ever found glyphosate could cause cancer, until recently.

To award punitive damages, Monsanto’s attorneys told the jury they would have to believe company employees committed criminal conduct and are lying about Roundup safety.

The jury determined that Monsanto employees committed criminal conduct and were lying about Roundup safety.

Mr. Hardeman’s case is the first to go to trial in federal court in California’s northern district over allegations involving Monsanto’s Roundup and Ranger Pro poisons. Some 700 cases have been consolidated before Judge Vince Chhabria. He said during a hearing earlier this year that he will likely “push the pause button” on federal litigation after the verdict in the next Roundup trial, in order to allow the parties to consider settlement negotiations. The next Roundup trial is scheduled to start in start court in Oakland, Calif. May 20.

Monsanto loses second Roundup Trial 

The case is Hardemanv. Monsanto Co. et al., case number 3:16-mc-80232.  The MDL is In re: Roundup Products Liability Litigation case number 3:16-md-02741 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Related

Share

Houston Law Firm investigating Injuries from Ship Channel Fire

(March 25, 2019)  Matthews & Associates Law Firm in Houston, Texas is investigating injuries caused by a fire in the Houston ship channel that started in Deer Park last week. Oil byproducts from a damaged storage facility run by Intercontinental Terminals Company went up in flames on March 17.  The fire contaminated the Houston Ship Channel, creating a cloud of cancer-causing benzene and other toxic chemicals.  It was one of the Gulf Coast’s worst chemical disasters in more than ten years. The fire burned for three days, then reignited on Saturday, May 23.

In the fire and aftermath, a  cloud of cancer-causing chemicals that includes benzene hung over the ship channel for more than a week.  The ignited chemicals were reportedly used in nail polish remover, paint thinner, and gasoline.  Detections of benzene at the ITC site prompted officials to announce shelter-in-place orders for Deer Park and Galena Park.  The U.S. Coast Guard banned vessel traffic on part of the industrial shipping route.

International Terminals Company at Ground Zero

The incident started with a wall collapse and fire at Intercontinental Terminals Co.’s already-damaged chemical storage complex on Sunday, March 17.  Toxic gasoline ingredients, firefighting foam, and dirty water flowed from the site into the channel, while a benzene plume hung over the water.  The toxic cloud posed a threat not only to ship crews and firefighters, but also to the thousands of people who live in the area.  As the toxic cloud blew toward the city, Houstonians were told to remain indoors for several days to avoid the fallout, but long-term health effects are far from certain.

The disaster began when tanks holding byproducts of the oil-refining process at ITC’s facility erupted in flames.  A mile-high plume of black smoke towered over the area and the city of Houston for days.  Fire crews finally brought the the blaze under control on March 20, but it flared up again on Saturday, March 23.

Benzene alerts shut down Deer Park and other suburbs for half a day, while local news channels warned Houstonians to stay indoors to avoid contaminated air and fallout from the fires.

Nausea, headaches, Other Symptoms

At least a thousand people complained of nausea, headaches and other symptoms.  They sought  treatment at a nearby pop-up clinic.  Fifteen of the most-severe cases were taken by ambulances to nearby hospital emergency rooms.

“It’s been a never-ending, re-occurring case of things not working out as planned,” said Deer Park Mayor Jerry Mouton during a media briefing on March 23, as the second fire broke out.

Local residents and millions of Houstonians were left wondering what would happen next.  The Deer Park fire and fallout appears to be the worst industrial disaster in the area since 15 people were killed in the 2005 explosion at BP Plc’s Texas City refinery.

Resident:  “The trust is not there.”

“There’s more tanks in there. Is it going to reignite?” Mercy Reyna, 50, asked a Houston Chronicle reporter.  Along with many others who live near ground zero, Ms. Reyna has  been suffering from headaches, eye discomfort, and chest tightness.  “The trust is not there,” she said.  “We feel like we’re not being told the truth of what’s going on.”

Benzene Alert

After the initial blaze was extinguished, ITC made two unsuccessful attempts to drain a charred tank holding pygas, a petroleum derivative composed largely of benzene.  Early on Friday, ITC executives estimated they would have that tank emptied in about 12 hours.  But then the wall failed and flames erupted nearby.

Benzene is a carcinogenic chemical, colorless or light yellow liquid at room temperature.  It has a sweet odor and is highly flammable.  It evaporates into air quickly, but its vapor is heavier than air and may sink into low-lying areas. Hence the warning to all Houstonians.  And after it falls from the air, benzene dissolves only slightly in water; it will float on top of water.

U.S. Chemical Safety Board Investigation

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board announced that it would be investigating the fire.  The Texas National Guard dispatched troops to assist local authorities with air monitoring after the cancer-causing benzene wafted across the area.  Besides prompting take-shelter alerts for some four million Houstonians, several roads were closed to traffic.

The Houston Ship Channel

The Houston ship channel is one of the busiest commercial shipping facilities in North America.  It connects Houston’s manufacturing and oil-refining network to Galveston Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.

Lawsuit over Clean Air Violations

The company said on March 22 that there were about 60,000 barrels (2.52 million gallons) of hazardous chemicals still held in the damaged section of its complex, the next day it no longer knew how much remained.  Meanwhile, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said he’ll file a lawsuit accusing ITC of violating clean-air laws.

Related

Share

Monsanto spends Millions to promote Pesticides, GMO Lies

(March 22, 2019)  Monsanto spends millions of dollars to promote pesticides like Roundup, spread GMO propaganda, and attack organic food choices with paid shills posed as disinterested scientists or honorable academics.  The good news is that more and more of the truth is emerging daily.  Much of that truth has come to light from legal “discovery” which has given us The Monsanto Papers.

11,000 Lawsuits

The truth about Monsanto is being unearthed by lawsuits filed by more than 11,000 people now suing the biotech giant for giving them non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  The lawsuits all allege that exposure to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide (classified by EPA as a pesticide) caused them to develop lymphomas that include chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

The Monsanto Propaganda Money Trail

Discovery in recent Roundup lawsuits has unveiled the propaganda money trail.  It shows just how Monsanto fools some of the people some of the time.  The money trail shows how Monsanto assembles front groups seeded with morally bankrupt scientists.  The money trail shows us how Monsanto runs astroturf organizations with payrolled employees disguised as normal citizens with some talent for the truth.  The Monsanto money trail shows us how the company hires professional bloggers to poison the blogosphere, just like Monsanto poisons the earth – a definite theme emerges here.  Monsanto’s bloggers flat-out lie about organic foods and Monsanto’s own products.  They also use click bait to draw unsuspecting people into “discussions” about pesticide-laced, genetically modified foods being superior to organic food, or foods not genetically perverted and loaded with pesticides.

How else could a company that sells the poisoning of the natural world itself as a virtuous act defend itself without hiding behind ostensibly third-party “scientists” and bloggers?  Monsanto has a long history of lying to the public and being the darling of government “regulators” like the Monsanto-captured EPA and the Monsanto-captured FDA.  In a blatantly illegal act, the latter broke the law in allowing genetically modified foods to be unleashed on us all in the first place.

Center for Food Integrity / Monsanto Partnership

Witness just one blinding glimpse of Monsanto’s duplicity in setting up dummy groups to hoodwink people and then hide behind those groups as honest arbiters of “science.”  Ever heard of the so-called, “Center for Food Integrity”?  Monsanto has. It owns the organization, which poses as an arbiter of good science.

Stacy Malkan reported for US Right To Know in May 2018:

“The Center for Food Integrity (CFI), formerly the Grow America Project, is an industry-funded 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization that conducts research, lobbying and public relations campaigns to “earn consumer trust” for food and agrichemical companies, including DowDuPont, Monsanto, Cargill, Costco, Grocery Manufacturers Association, Hershey, Kroger and trade associations for meat, dairy and soybeans.”

In the five-year period from 2012-2016, CFI spent $23,225,098 on various marketing and messaging programs to promote industry messaging to build trust in genetically engineered foods, pesticides, food additives and antibiotics in meat”

The Center for Food Integrity has zero interest in integrity.  For $23 Million, you can get almost any morally-bankrupt person (or maybe just a morally-compromised person who needs to pay his rent) to say just about anything.  (Right, Mr. Miller?)

Monsanto “Industry partner” attacks IARC Cancer Panel

Ms. Malkan wrote:

“This internal Monsanto document identifies the Center for Food Integrity as an “industry partner” in Monsanto’s public relations plan to discredit the World Health Organization’s cancer research arm, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), to protect the reputation of Roundup weedkiller. In March 2015, IARC judged glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup, to be probably carcinogenic to humans.

Monsanto recognized that the WHO’s pronouncement of glyphosate as a probable carcinogen could be the beginning of the end for Roundup, and maybe even for the company itself.  And so Monsanto set its attack dogs to work at “The Center for Food Integrity,” and in many other dark fouled corners of the earth where the light doesn’t shine, but where money doesn’t just talk; it screams.

Monsanto money is still screaming in a  California court where a jury of six this week unanimously ruled that Monsanto’s Roundup was a substantial factor in a man’s developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  Monsanto’s attempts to geofence the sequestered jury over the “safety” of Roundup didn’t work, thankfully, and the trial has now entered its second phase.

The jury is now being allowed to hear about some of Monsanto’s behind-the-scenes efforts to manipulate public opinion and federal regulators, though the judge in the case — who formerly worked in a law firm which represented Monsanto – continues to keep a tight rein on just how much of Monsanto’s manipulations he is going to allow the plaintiff’s side to share with the jurors.

Meanwhile, all the rest of us can do is pray that the truth will out, that common sense will reign, that more and more people will come to understand the painfully obvious, that nothing good can come of us poisoning our own food and land and water.

Related

 

Share

Matthews & Associates – Best Law Firms in America

Matthews & Associates Law Firm has been chosen as one of the Best Law Firms in America by U.S. News & World Report.  The distinction is awarded as a result of feedback from clients, professional references, and lawyers across the country.  Matthews & Associates is honored in 2019 as a Tier 1 firm representing plaintiffs in personal injury lawsuits.

For eligibility, a  law firm must have at least one attorney who is recognized in the current edition of Best Lawyers in a “Best Law Firms” ranked practice area / metro area.  Attorney David P. Matthews, the founder of Matthews & Associates Law Firm, has been listed in the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Lawyers in America since 2016, for his personal injury work representing plaintiffs.

Methodology Overview

The U.S. News & World Report Best Law Firms explains its methodology: “Clients and/or Professional References are emailed a survey addressing a firm’s expertise, responsiveness, understanding of a business and its needs, cost-effectiveness, civility, and whether they would refer another client to the firm.  Data is also collected from Best Lawyers ballots, which can only be completed by attorneys who are currently recognized by Best Lawyers.”

Tier 1 Ranking

Matthews & Associates has the highest ranking available, a “Tier 1.” The “Best Law Firms” web site explains that because selected firms were often separated by small or insignificant differences in overall score, they use a tier system rather than ranking law firms sequentially.

David P. Matthews among Best Lawyers in America

Firm founder David Matthews worked as a partner for 18 years in one of the oldest plaintiff’s law firms in Texas until 2007, when he opened his own law firm at 2905 Sackett in the Upper Kirby section of Houston, Texas.  The firm now employs 13 lawyers and some 60 full-time staff, including researchers, paralegals, nurses, and investigators.

Matthews & Associates represents people who have been injured by corporate malfeasance, greed, negligence, or incompetence.  The firm has successfully delivered financial compensation to thousands of clients in medical device and pharmaceutical drug litigation, as well as many other types of personal injury cases.

Drug Cases, Medical Devices, and More

The firm has represented thousands of injured people in medical device litigation such as transvaginal or pelvic mesh, as well as those with pharmaceutical drug cases involving Pradaxa, Reglan, Vioxx, Rezulin, and many other popular prescription drugs.

In addition, the firm has also handled cases for people injured in explosions, car and truck accidents, and many other types of litigation.

Today, besides dangerous drugs and medical device injury cases, the firm also handles California wildfire lawsuits, abuse by clergy (demanda de abuso por el clero), talcum powder cancer cases, Monsanto Roundup litigation, and MRI dye injuries.

The firm also prosecutes petrochemical and gas explosion accidents, construction cases, birth injury, premises liability, product liability, electrocutions, and several other types of personal-injury-related cases.

Related

Share

Pope and Cardinal clash in Sex Abuse Crisis

(February 21, 2019)  Pope Francis and Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston clash in how to handle the Catholic church’s sex abuse crisis.  While the pope has promised the world that he will move quickly to stop sex abuse by clergy and remove wayward priests, the pontiff’s actions have led Cardinal O’Malley and others to ponder whether the church’s leader will follow through on those promises.

Though Cardinal O’Malley stops well short of criticizing his “superior,” he is clearly disappointed that Pope Francis’ latest actions’ fail to fulfill his promises to timely identify and remove predatory priests and prevent further sex abuse crimes.  Cardinal O’Malley is one of the few heroes in the tragic story of runaway sex abuse and unconscionable coverups that plague the Catholic church.  He has already toiled for years trying to help heal several dioceses which nearly imploded as a result of his predecessor’s shortcomings.

The Healer – A Hero of our Time

Cardinal O’Malley made his name as a healer when several abuse scandals struck the Catholic church in the 1990s.  As bishop of Fall River, Mass., and then of Palm Beach, Fla., he dealt with abuse cases that implicated his predecessors.  He reached settlements and won the trust of many victims, which was no small feat given their history.  Cardinal O’Malley fought back tears when he spoke in public of the harms done to children.

In 2003, church leaders made him archbishop of Boston to tackle the biggest sex abuse crisis they’d ever seen.  That scandal included an egregious coverup of clerical sex abuse that was made legend in the film “The Spotlight,” which focused on the Boston Globe reporters who broke the story.  Besides coming clean on the church’s crimes against children, Cardinal O’Malley sold the palatial official residence where he was stationed and used that money to pay sex abuse victims.  He moved into a small apartment rectory.

Further Christlike, he was active in the Catholic church’s poverty relief work around the Western hemisphere, which is how he met Cardinal Mario Bergoglio, the future Pope Francis.

Their relationship was mutually beneficial and respectful for decades, but the way the pope’s latest actions have clashed with his previous promises has changed things for Cardinal O’Malley.

The cardinal first persuaded the pope to let him lead an advisory panel to study the problem and work on a solution.  In 2015, the panel recommended a special tribunal to try bishops who ignore or cover up abuse. The panel eventually proposed that sex abuse allegations should involve outside investigators, not just priests, and that Vatican files on abuse should be shared with victims and civil authorities.   The pope at first agreed with the panel, but the next year he changed his mind.  Victims’ representatives then resigned from the panel for what they said was Vatican inaction.

So the panel shifted focus to organizing academic conferences, but the pope then reshuffled the panel’s membership.  “Mistakes were made in appointments,” he said. His use of the passive voice did not bode well for the veracity of his statement.   The passive voice is a rhetorical device often used to deflect the culpability of the speaker, or to hide something more than tangentially relevant to the subject at hand.  The pope also said that the commission had not been honest with him.

One of the victims’ advocates who had quit the panel said Cardinal O’Malley told her: “I can’t understand why he would have said that.”

Still, Cardinal O’Malley did not criticize the pope, at least not directly. But then on a trip to Chile in January 2018, the pope defended a local bishop accused of covering up sex abuse, claiming that the allegations against him were “calumny” without proof.

Cardinal O’Malley then issued a public statement critical of the pope: “It is understandable that Pope Francis’ statements yesterday. . . were a source of great pain for survivors of sexual abuse.  Words that convey the message, ‘If you cannot prove your claims then you will not be believed,’ abandon those who have suffered.”

The pope has also remained close to Archbishop Theodore McCarrick of Washington, who is currently awaiting the results of a church trial on multiple counts of sex abuse and other misconduct.  A former Vatican diplomat accused the pope of ignoring earlier reports of sexual misconduct with adults by McCarrick, who has said he is innocent of one of the charges against him.  The pope has said he would not authorize a full-fledged investigation into the McCarrick scandal.

Deflating Expectations

The pope stunned Cardinal O’Malley and other U.S. priests during their visit to the Vatican last summer when he suggested that they cancel their annual national assembly planned for November 2018 where they planned to discuss anti-abuse proposals.  The Americans politely declined to cancel their assembly.

And then the pope announced a February 2019 summit on sex abuse that excluded the most competent and compassionate victims’ advocate in the country:  Cardinal O’Malley.

“We have to deflate expectations,” the pope told reporters.

Related

Share

Monsanto Product increases Cancer Risk

Exposure to the Monsanto chemical glyphosate increases one’s cancer risk by 41%, according to a new analysis.  Classified as an herbicide (which is a type of pesticide), glyphosate is the only named active ingredient in Roundup, the world’s most popular killer.

Roundup non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Linked

To arrive at the 41% increased risk, University of Washington researchers evaluated glyphosate exposure studies already completed, along with some other studies concerning other weed killers.  The UW researchers concluded that Monsanto’s Roundup significantly increases the risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), a cancer of the immune system.

The study’s authors published their findings in the journal Mutation Research. They wrote:  “All of the meta-analyses conducted to date, including our own, consistently report the same key finding: exposure to GBHs (glyphosate-based herbicides) are associated with an increased risk of NHL.”

The U.S. EPA had, in its initial assessment, also determined that Roundup was potentially a human carcinogen, but then Monsanto went to work on some of the agency’s employees until the EPA was finally bent to do the chemical giant’s bidding.  Roundup’s link to cancer was first discovered more than three decades ago by one of the industry-captured agencies which Monsanto now uses as cover.

Monsanto EPA History

The actual carcinogenic risks of glyphosate can be difficult to decipher given Monsanto’s long-standing financial relationships with career politicians from both sides of the twisted aisle, as well as with individuals working in appointed positions in the U.S. government, most pointedly in the EPA.

EPA declares Glyphosate  Potentially Carcinogenic

The U.S. EPA – the so-called Environmental Protection Agency – first classified glyphosate as a Class C carcinogen in 1985.  But the agency later inexplicably reversed course and gave Monsanto license to sell it.

Glypohosate’s carcinogenic potential was first considered by an EPA panel on February 11, 1985.  In a consensus review dated March 4, 1985, the Toxicology Branch Ad Hoc Committee classified glyphosate as a Class C Carcinogen. A Class C Carcinogen has  ”Suggestive evidence of carcinogenic potential” according to the EPA.

Monsanto then tried to persuade the EPA that glyphosate was not carcinogenic.  Monsanto got help from Dr. George Levinskas.  As the company’s Director of Environmental Assessment and Toxicology, Levinskas was a lead player in the cover up of the carcinogenic potential of the now banned PCBs in the 1970s – which continue to damage people and animals to this day.

Monsanto Massages the Message

According to Sustainable Pulse, in April 1985 Dr. Levinskas wrote an internal company letter stating: “Senior management at the EPA is reviewing a proposal to classify glyphosate as a class C “possible human carcinogen” because of kidney adenomas in male mice.  Dr. Marvin Kuschner will review kidney sections and present his evaluation of them to the EPA in an effort to persuade the agency that the observed tumors are not related to glyphosate.”

EPA Changes Glyphosate Carcinogen Classification

It was a hard sell for Monsanto, but not that hard.  The company was, after all, dealing with a government agency which also counts the toxic poisoning of Americans’ drinking water as one of the 20th century’s greatest accomplishments (See Mullenix 2014).   In 1991, the EPA simply changed classification of glyphosate from Class C “Suggestive of Carconogenic Potential” to Class E to suggest “evidence of non-carcinogenicity for humans.”

Two EPA scientists refused to sign for the classification change, which, fortuitously for Monsanto, occurred just as the company was developing its first Roundup-Ready (glyphosate-resistant) GM crops (Eureka!).  GMO seeds depend on the copious use of glyphosate, which, besides helping to raise the world’s cancer statistics, has also engendered the growth of superweeds which have developed immunity to the glyphosate poison.  Birds, bees, humans and other animals, unfortunately, have not been so lucky.  One would have to be living on the moon now to not know how Monsanto pesticides like Roundup and Bayer’s neonicotinoids have helped kill off more than half the world’s pollinator bees.

Another industry-captured regulator, the European Food Safety Authority, also maintains that glyphosate is safe.  And  Bayer, which acquired Monsanto in 2018, has called glyphosate a “safe and efficient weed control tool.”

World Health Organization: Glyphosate a Probable Carcinogen

In 2015, however, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”  The chemical has since triggered thousands of lawsuits brought by people who believe their exposure to Roundup caused their non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

The authors of the UW report analyzed all published studies on the impact of glyphosate on humans.

Co-author and doctoral student Rachel Shaffer said in a statement: “This research provides the most up-to-date analysis of glyphosate and its link with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, incorporating a 2018 study of more than 54,000 people who work as licensed pesticide applicators.” The scientists also assessed studies on animals.

Focusing on data relating to people with the “highest exposure” to the herbicide, the researchers concluded that a “compelling link” exists between glyphosate exposure and a greater risk of developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Senior author Lianne Sheppard, professor in biostatistics and environmental and occupational health sciences, said she was “convinced” of the carcinogenic properties of the chemical.

Bayer Responds to Defend Monsanto

Bayer called the new analysis a “statistical manipulation” with “serious methodological flaws.” The company added for good measure that the study “provides no scientifically valid evidence that contradicts the conclusions of the extensive body of science demonstrating that glyphosate-based herbicides are not carcinogenic.”

The UW study authors do note some limitations of their analysis, such as that “limited published data” was available to them.  They also wrote that the studies they evaluated varied in the population groups they targeted.  They noted that the glyphosate exposure levels of the participants differed between reports.

A biosciences professor at the University of Central Lancashire, Francis Martin, told CNN that since glyphosate is used as a general purpose herbicide there will be exposure in the general population.  He further noted that the report was limited by the small number of existing studies, though he also stressed the authors were “honestly self-reflective on the limitations of the analyses.”

Mr. Martin said the report shows a need for new, well-designed robust studies, because the ones available are indeed small.

Monsanto endless trumpets that hundreds of studies have found roundup and glyphosate safe, but virtually all of those hundreds of studies were done by Monsanto or at the behest of Monsanto, and none of them were done on a long-term basis; so for Monsanto’s purposes in using them to defend Roundup, they are virtually worthless.

Related

Share

Monsanto used Reuters to Fake News

(Feb. 16, 2018)  Monsanto used the news agency Reuters to fake news in 2017.  The chemical giant (bought last year by Bayer for some $62.5 Billion) used a Reuters reporter to create a demonstrably false news story that attacked a scientist and an organization that found Monsanto’s Roundup was probably carcinogenic.  Lawyers suing Monsanto for a man who developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma brought the evidence to the attention of the presiding judge last month in an attempt to get it entered into evidence for the jury to see.

Monsanto objects to Evidence

Monsanto, meanwhile, has objected to the jury’s hearing any mention of show Monsanto fed fake news to a Reuters reporter.  Judge Vincent Chaabria is still deciding how much, if any, of this new evidence the jury will hear in the second Roundup cancer trial scheduled to start this month.

The judge has apparently agreed, for the most part, to Monsanto’s demands to “bifurcate” the trial into two parts, a move which undoubtedly serves Monsanto’s interests to the detriment of the plaintiff.  The new arrangement will keep jurors from hearing any evidence of Monsanto’s behind-the-scenes machinations to protect its poison products from the hard glare of independent studies and public scrutiny.

This second trial over a Roundup cancer link – and the first in a federal court – is set to be heard very differently than the first, which last summer found that Monsanto had failed to warn a California groundskeeper of a Roundup-cancer link.  The jury in that trial decided unanimously that Monsanto was guilty of offenses that resulted in  punitive damages.  In this second trial,  the jury will first hear only scientific and legal arguments concerning direct causation.  Then, if and only if the jury determines that Roundup caused the plaintiff’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, will they then be allowed to hear how Monsanto worked (and works) behind the scenes to propagandize public perception and manipulate scientific opinion.

Monsanto Propaganda Poisons Discourse

It is well known now that Monsanto pays for its own vested interest studies (none of which has ever gone more than 12 months) which are then used to “convince” friendly regulators like the U.S. EPA that Monsanto products are safe.  Many Monsanto employees, like Michael Taylor, move from the Monsanto payroll into US government regulation jobs with FDA or EPA, and then back to Monsanto’s payroll.  It is now also well known how Monsanto works to manipulate and control public perception by ghost writing articles like those signed by the disgraced Stanford academic Henry Miller.  Mr. Miller, for one, published his pro-GMO Monsanto propaganda in Forbes magazine before Forbes’ editors realized that, like Reuters last month, they, too, had been used by Monsanto to mislead the public.

Monsanto, Reuters Team for Fake News

In the latest bombshell, a Reuters reporter named Kate Kelland was used as a willing dupe by Monsanto to publish propaganda attacking the credibility of the International Agency for Cancer Research, whose 2015 proclamation that glyphosate is probably carcinogenic did as much as anything to unleash what now amounts to nearly 10,000 lawsuits by people who say their lymphoma was caused by their exposure to Monsanto’s Roundup and glyphosate.

The clear motive of the fake news effort was to defend Monsanto against the very serious allegation that Roundup “herbicide” probably causes non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  For anyone paying attention, the result should be a fatal blow to the credibility of not only Monsanto and Reuters (when one sees below how easily the “news’ agency allowed itself to be used for a nefarious purpose), but also to what all of us have been taught we should swallow daily as “The News.”

A History of Attacking Critics

Monsanto has taken several lines of attack against any person or organization which has found credible evidence that Roundup causes cancer, specifically non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Whenever Monsanto has perceived a threat to its business model – based on poison chemical farming and genetically modified organisms – it has moved quickly, and viciously, to neutralize or attack  that threat.

Monsanto has moved quickly to neutralize or discredit scientists (like Giles Seralini and others) or regulatory bodies such as the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) whenever those scientists or regulators have found evidence of carcinogenicity in Monsanto’s poison products like Roundup.

Even before the IARC declared Monsanto’s glyphosate a probable carcinogen in 2015, the chemical giant was already maneuvering to unleash attacks on the agency.

Monsanto’s Latest Puppet Journalist

New documents filed in federal court last month threaten to expose Reuters news reporter Kate Kelland for acting as Monsanto’s latest puppet.  She signed her name to a completely false narrative about cancer scientist Aaron Blair and the IARC that classified glyphosate as a probable carcinogen.

Court Documents?  What Court Documents?

In 2017, Reuters put Ms. Kelland’s by-line on a controversial story that she attributed to “court documents.”  But those so-called “documents” now appear to have been given her by a Monsanto executive.  That person fed Ms. Kelland several key points Monsanto wanted made.  It was fake news because those “documents” which Ms. Kelland cited were not filed in court.  They were also not publicly available at the time she wrote her story. So she apparently lied about them being “court documents.”  That lie – if it is the lie it now appears to be – allowed her to avoid disclosing Monsanto’s role in pushing the story.

Putting Words in a Scientist’s Mouth

U.S. Right to Know reported that Ms. Kelland’s Monsanto-sourced story portrayed cancer scientist Aaron Blair as hiding “important information” that found no links between glyphosate and cancer from IARC.  Ms. Kelland wrote that Mr. Blair “said the data would have altered IARC’s analysis.”  But a review of the full deposition shows that Mr. Blair said no such thing.

The Missing Link

Ms. Kelland provided no link to the documents she cited.  That conveniently made it impossible for readers to see for themselves how far she and Reuters had veered from veracity.  It was Monsanto propaganda pure and simple.

Monsanto Propaganda Assails World

To further promote the fake news, Monsanto used Google advertisements, its chemical industry allies, and chemical-industry-friendly “news” outlets.  Pliant media outlets around the world picked up the “hot new story” and trumpeted it everywhere.  (It reminded one of another fake news coup, of Dick Cheney echoing that the New York Times’ Judith Miller had – falsely, it turned out – reported evidence of Iraq WMD.  Mr. Cheney then used that fake news – so shamelessly promoted by the country’s paper of record – to rally the country to attack Iraq and begin the country’s longest-ever-running war, with no end yet in sight.)

New information revealed in court filings shows just how heavily Monsanto promoted the false narrative to Reuters and Ms. Kelland.  In a January 15 court filing, plaintiff’s attorneys cited internal Monsanto correspondence dated April 27, 2017.  They say it shows how Monsanto executive Sam Murphey sent the false narrative to Ms. Kelland with a slide deck of talking points as well as out-of-context portions of the Blair deposition which was not filed in court. The attorneys said the correspondence shows Monsanto’s man asking her to publish a piece accusing Dr. Blair of deceiving IARC.

Monsanto and Bayer lawyers are trying to keep the correspondence with Ms. Kelland sealed from public view.  Some of the emails between the Reuters reporter and Monsanto still have not been released.

Monsanto Works to Discredit IARC

Plaintiff’s attorneys also write in their letter brief that Monsanto’s internal documents show Ms. Kelland was seen as a a key media contact in their efforts to discredit IARC.

USRTK fairly points out that companies routinely give media outlets story suggestions that benefit the companies from the companies, but reporters need to present facts, not corporate propaganda attacking reputable scientists.

This Reuters story was especially important because Monsanto used it to attack IARC on multiple fronts.  Part of that attack included an effort by Monsanto to get Congress to strip funding from IARC.

Reuters and Ms. Kelland failed the public by not revealing that Monsanto was the story’s source. USRTK says, “Reuters owes the world – and IARC – an apology.”

The News?

But an apology hardly cuts it.  This episode shows that Reuters, like the New York Times in the Iraq WMD propaganda blitz, is a captured news agency that cannot be trusted.  Hopefully this episode will teach us all to be very careful to assess veracity each time we open a newspaper or a web site or listen to anyone read us what their corporate masters call “the news.

Related

Share