J&J ordered to pay $4.7 Billion for Talc Powder Cancer

(July 12, 2018)  J&J Talcum Powder Lawsuitwas ordered to pay 22 women nearly $4.7 billion for   cancer they developed after using J&J talcum powder.  The women had all used Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and/or J&J’s Shower-to-Shower.  A St. Louis jury agreed with the women’s attorneys that J&J’s talcum powder contained asbestos that gave them cancer.  Six of the 22 women had died of ovarian cancer before the six-week trial.  The jury award included $550 million in compensatory damages and $4.14 billion more in punitive damages.

The 12 St. Louis Circuit Court jurors deliberated for less than a day.  They unanimously held both J&J and J&J Consumer liable for strict liability and negligence for all of the plaintiffs’ injuries.  They awarded each woman suing alone $25 million, and generally awarded each woman whose lawsuit included her husband $12.5 million each.

The jury also found both J&J companies liable for punitive damages for each of the plaintiffs.  The jury deliberated for the punitive damages phase less than two hours.  They then awarded the heavy punitives – $3.15 billion for J&J, $990 million for J&J Consumer.  In addition to the unanimous vote for damages, the jury voted 11-1 for the J&J punitive damages verdict, and unanimously for the J&J Consumer verdict.

The women’s attorney, Mark Lanier, told the jury Jonson & Johnson covered up evidence of asbestos in their products for more than 40 years.  “We hope this verdict will get the attention of the J&J board,” he said, “(and) lead them to better inform the medical community and the public about the connection between asbestos, talc, and ovarian cancer.”

During the punitive damages phase arguments the jury heard after delivering their first verdict, Mr. Lanier told the jury that J&J “deliberately exposed millions of Americans” to a dangerous substance and asked them to impose a verdict the company would notice.

During regular closing arguments, Mr. Lanier told the jury the evidence was there that J&J had covered up testing data and scientific studies that it knew showed the cosmetic-grade talc in Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower contained asbestos.

In closing, Mr. Lanier also described for the jury the plaintiffs and their families, and reminded jurors of details of their testimony. He also told jurors they knew J&J had the motive (money) and the means (asbestos-tainted talc) to cause the injuries suffered by his clients.

CSI St. Louis
“This is CSI St. Louis, in a sense,” said Mr. Lanier.  “It’s your job to determine who is responsible, and the evidence says it’s Johnson & Johnson (and) that responsible party needs to be brought to justice.  (As) I told you at opening, it’s an easy thing to do.  You’ve seen it on TV. You’ve just got to follow the evidence.”

J&J Defense: “Stories are just fiction.”

Speaking for J&J’s defense in closing, attorney Peter Bicks criticized Lanier’s style.  Mr. Bicks told the jury an old lawyer aphorism that says: “When the facts are on your side, use the facts, when the law is on your side, use the law, and when you’ve got neither, bang the table.”   He credited Mr. Lanier credit as being a “showman” and a “storyteller, but some stories are just fiction.”

Mr. Bicks argued that the fiction being told is that J&J is only about profit and keeping an unsafe product on shelves to make a buck.  He reminded the jury of prior testimony from J&J’s own representatives, Susan Nicholson and John Hopkins.  They had told the jury not only that J&J talc was tested and found to be asbestos-free, but that they used it on themselves and their children.

Mr. Bicks said the talc litigation was driven by plaintiffs’ lawyers.  He said all the plaintiffs had discovered the alleged link between talcum powder and cancer through television ads sponsored by attorneys.

Following the verdict, J&J spokesperson Carol Goodrich also objected to the form of the trial. She said that allowing 22 plaintiffs to proceed in one case resulted in prejudice against J&J.  She said that despite their individual circumstances [some had died, some had survived, etc.], the verdict awarded each roughly the same amount.

Ms. Goodrich also said most of the women had no connection to Missouri, which J&J attorneys are sure to point out in an appeals process that she said would be forthcoming.

J&J ordered to pay $4.7 Billion for Talc Powder Cancer

Only time will tell if this verdict will be thrown out.  Many others have following judgements from this St. Louis court.  Things went south for plaintiffs generally after the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year made a ruling which made it very difficult for injured people to sue a corporation in any state but their own or in the state where the corporation is located.

The American court system continues to move further and further to the right, at the behest of corporations at the expense of citizens.  But at the very least, this attention-grabbing verdict gives plaintiffs some hope that justice is still possible for them.  People injured by corporations which exist first and last to make profits for their own executives and shareholders need to be held accountable.  We congratulate the plaintiffs on the verdict and we congratulate Mr. Lanier, who we know – despite what the future may hold – is unquestionably right about at least one thing:  this St. Louis jury did give Johnson & Johnson a verdict the company will notice.

The case is Ingham v. Johnson & Johnson et al., case number 1522-CC10417, in the 22nd Judicial Circuit of Missouri.

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J&J ordered to pay $4.7 Billion for Talc Cancer

 

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Experts can share Roundup Cancer Link

A California judge has ruled a plaintiff’s experts can share a Roundup cancer link with a jury in the first trial against Monsanto over its most popular poison Roundup.  A Monsanto lawsuit will consequently go forward.

Monsanto attorneys had attempted through numerous Daubert challenges to have the judge remove all of the plaintiff’s expert witnesses from the trial.  The judge’s decision to allow the testimony of three plaintiff’s experts could have far-reaching consequences.   Any testimony which links Roundup to cancer – more specifically non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma – may threaten Monsanto’s majority market share of the chemical farming poison industry.

Judge Vince Chhabria in San Francisco said evidence that Roundup causes cancer seems “weak,” but the judge allowed that there was enough of it to let a jury hear the plaintiff’s experts’ opinions of that evidence.  That decision means hundreds of lawsuits against Monsanto over its Roundup poison may move forward.

The lawsuits filed by cancer victims and their families say Monsanto knew for decades about Roundup’s cancer risk, yet failed to warn people of the dangers.

WHO Declares Glyphosate a Probable Carcinogen

Roundup lawsuits against Monsanto gathered steam in 2015 when the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) declared glyphosate — the listed active ingredient in Roundup — a “probable human carcinogen.”  That finding unleashed a firestorm of protest from the chemical giant and its industry partners, and a flood of friendly press stories defending Monsanto and Roundup.

Monsanto EPA Collusion

Fallout from criticism of the WHO’s Roundup cancer declaration also revealed collusion, or at the very least, the rank appearance of collusion, between the EPA and Monsanto.  An EPA scientist was shown in emails to have worked behind the scenes to help the chemical giant discredit any cancer link between Roundup and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. That EPA scientist (Jess Rowland) was shown in emails to have communicated with Monsanto to help the company thwart further study into the link between Roundup and cancer.  Another EPA scientist, dying of lymphoma herself, pleaded in an email with her Monsanto-linked colleague to tell the truth of Roundup’s link to cancer.

The EPA scientist working secretly to help Monsanto stuck by his guns in defending the company, but his dying colleague’s last efforts were not in vain.  Her telling email became public knowledge following lawsuit discovery which came to light when plaintiffs’ attorneys filed cases against Monsanto over Roundup.

Related:  Glyphosate poisons Cereal

Monsanto’s well-coordinated attacks against the WHO continue today, as press services across the country  — such as Reuter’s, Fortune magazine, and several others – continue a propaganda campaign to dismiss any Roundup cancer link.

Who’s using Junk Science?

In trying to have all of the plaintiff’s experts dismissed, Monsanto defense lawyers had tried to call all of the studies which found a Roundup cancer link “junk science.”  The hubris and hypocrisy of that Monsanto attack is astonishing.

In finding glyphosate a probable carcinogen, the WHO looked only at studies which were NOT sponsored, paid for, or otherwise connected with Monsanto.  WHO looked only at INDEPENDENT studies, those which were independent of Monsanto.  When the chemical giant’s defenders — like Reuter’s, Fortune, Snopes, and other fake news outlets — claim that hundreds of studies prove glyphosate is safe, they are looking only at studies paid for by Monsanto or sponsored by the company with a vested interest in the outcomes of those studies. Such studies which allow for no third-party (a disinterested third party) verification are the very definition of “junk science.”  Virtually all of the studies not paid for by Monsanto find some link between Roundup exposure and cancer.  Or else those studies which found no link between Roundup and cancer had major flaws.

Related:  Monsanto sued for False Advertising

Judge Chhabria spent a week in a March 2018 listening to testimony from epidemiologists on both sides of the argument. The judge asked both sides questions about the potential strengths and weaknesses of research on the cancer risk of glyphosate.

Testimony of UCLA Epidemiologist

A UCLA epidemiologist, Beate Ritz, testified that her review of scientific literature led to her conclusion that glyphosate and glyphosate-based compounds like Roundup can cause non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  Ms. Ritz said that a 2017 National Institute of Health study which found no association between glyphosate and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma had major flaws.

Monsanto Expert Testimony

Monsanto trotted out its own expert for the judge, a cancer epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.  Lorelei Mucci lauded the 2017 NIH study and reached the opposite conclusion which Ms. Ritz had.  Ms. Mucci told the judge:  “When you look at the body of epidemiological literature on this topic, there’s no evidence of a positive association between glyphosate and NHL risk.”

Judge:  “We don’t yet know”

Judge Chhabria concluded that there was “at least a strong argument that the only reasonable conclusion one could draw right now is that we don’t yet know” whether the herbicide is causing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Monsanto developed glyphosate in the 1970s.  It classified the poison as an antibiotic, and among its many dangerous properties, it also contributes to the growing worldwide problem of antibiotic resistance.

Besides its link with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, glyphosate has also been linked to kidney disease, liver damage, birth defects, Parkinson’s disease and more. The poison is sold today in more than 160 countries. Farmers in California, the most agriculturally productive state in the U.S., use it on more than 200 types of crops.  Unwitting homeowners continue to use it on their lawns and gardens.

Monsanto also sells “terminator seeds” that can withstand the glyphosate as it kills the surrounding weeds and spawns superweeds which have evolved to withstand glyphosate’s toxic assault.  Glyphosate also kills the surrounding friendly flora and fauna in the environment as well as the friendly flora and fauna in the human gut.

The state of California added glyphosate to its list of chemicals known to cause cancer following the IARC pronouncement that glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen. Monsanto continues to attack the IARC, and it has sued the state of California to de-list glyphosate.

The U.S. EPA, which has been shown to be industry-compromised by its own internal emails with Monsanto, claims glyphosate is safe for people when used in accordance with label directions.  A draft report by EPA in 2017 claimed glyphosate is not likely to be carcinogenic to people. The EPA report noted that science reviews by some other countries had reached the same conclusion, though Monsanto’s political and financial ties to those organizations make any such declarations questionable. Several countries, including France and Sweden, have banned glyphosate and Monsanto and other chemical company’s GMO’s.

Monsanto’s well-funded propaganda has paid off for the company in some respects, as a federal judge in Sacramento in February 2018 blocked California from requiring Roundup to carry a label stating that it is known to cause cancer.  The judge said the warning would be misleading because almost all regulators have concluded that there is no evidence glyphosate is carcinogenic.

Experts can share Roundup Cancer Link

The problem with any such decision is that Roundup has been shown to be many times more toxic than glyphosate alone. An industry-controlled glitch in the country’s chemical regulatory system allows chemicals like glyphosate to be tested alone, which is preposterous.  Glyphosate is only one active ingredient listed in Roundup, and nobody applies glyphosate alone, without all of its ostensibly inactive additives.  Many of the so-called “inert” ingredients in Roundup have recently been shown to not be inert at all.  The gatekeepers cannot be allowed to play that duplicitous little game any longer.  Too much is at stake. Our lives depend on getting the real science of Roundup poison out to the public at large, so that all the people can see what kind of chemical monsters are poisoning our food and our lives.

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Pelvic Mesh MDL Closing to New Cases

(July 11, 2018) The pelvic mesh Federal Judge Joseph Goodwinmultidistrict litigation (MDL) court is closing to new cases.  Judge Joseph Goodwin, who oversees the MDL court in Charleston, W. Va., made the announcement last month.

Medical Mesh News Desk reports that the pelvic mesh MDL court was created in January 2012.  At its height, it was handling nearly 105,000 cases. Judge Goodwin issued orders on June 21, 2018 that no more cases would be filed in his federal court.

No More Cases Accepted in MDL 2327
With the MDL closing, any new case filings will need to be in state court, according to the order issued by Judge Goodwin. The judge issued the same order in each of the seven pelvic mesh MDLs filed in his federal court.

Charleston, WV MDL Court Closing
The largest MDL court was established for Ethicon (Johnson & Johnson).  Judge Goodwin wrote in Pretrial Order #304 in the Ethicon MDL #2327, that since January 2018, his court has requested cases no longer be transferred to MDL 2327.

Related:  Johnson & Johnson, Ethicon Mesh Losses Mount

On June 19, 2018, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation entered a Minute Order:

“The court ORDERS that plaintiffs may no longer direct file claims against Ethicon, Inc. or Johnson & Johnson or any related entities in the Ethicon MDL (as set forth in PTO # 118) or in any other pelvic mesh MDL assigned to the court.”

The other six MDLs  with the same order include all of the major pelvic mesh makers – C.R. Bard MDL 2187; American Medical Systems MDL 2325; Boston Scientific MDL 2326; Coloplast MDL 2387; Cook Medical MDL 2440; Neomedic MDL 2511.

State Court Cases
Heretofore, it appears that any plaintiff’s lawyer wishing to pursue a newly-signed pelvic mesh case will need to file it in a state court venue, either in the state where the mesh maker is located or in the state where the plaintiff lives.

Mesh News Desk reports that it is not known whether the plaintiff will be able to share in the extensive MDL “Discovery” already gathered to support the MDL cases for trial.  Discovery costs can quickly reach half a million dollars or more in a single case, so the question is an important one. One advantage of an MDL court is that discovery costs can often be shared across several cases, so in theory at least, that cost savings is one advantage of the MDL court which could disappear in the face of any future pelvic mesh litigation pursued in state courts. The MDL system can also decidedly cut trial preparation time.

But before the doors close entirely, the federal West Virginia MDL court will host two Wave trials, Wave 7 and 8, against Ethicon.

Wave 7 and 8 Trials
Wave 8 cases in the Ethicon MDL, the last major trial by the federal MDL court, should be concluded with discovery by October 2018 and made trial ready in a June 13th order by Judge Goodwin.

Ethicon / Johnson & Johnson still faces Wave 7 trials of approximately 150 pelvic mesh-injured women whose cases will be heard in the West Virginia federal court. Final settlement conferences are scheduled for August 1, 2018, with trial set to begin August 14.

The West Virginia MDL once contained 104,749 cases representing plaintiffs filing pelvic mesh cases against seven mesh makers. New cases slowed to a trickle beginning in 2018.

Pelvic Mesh MDL Closing to New Cases

The cases of Carolyn Lewis v. Ethicon; Donna Cisson v Bard; Jo Huskey v Ethicon; Tyree v. Boston Scientific; among others, have all been heard in Charleston since 2012.

Thousands Dismissed with Prejudice for non-revision
In the Ethicon MDL, Medical Mesh News Desk also reported that Judge Goodwin just announced that he was dismissing thousands of cases with prejudice because they were non-revision cases.

In Pretrial Order #293, issued Wednesday, April 11, 2018, Judge Goodwin said that the court would dismiss more than 13,000 Ethicon mesh cases in which the plaintiff has a mesh in place but has not attempted any removal or revision.

That judiciary decision could prove unfortunate for several women. Many suffer from such compromised health that they fear any return to a doctor’s office could leave them in worse shape than if they took their chances with their current condition or injuries.  Any revision or removal surgery can sometimes leave a person in worse shape than she was in before she opted for the revision or removal.

As Jane Akre reports, “There are many reasons a woman may not have her pelvic mesh removed – compromised health, a risk of going under anesthesia, a new complication to her health, a warning from her doctor that the risks of revision outweigh the benefit – all might preclude having a mesh removal.  Now that may count against her.”

“Dismissed with prejudice” usually means that a plaintiff may not bring another legal action with the same claim. “Dismissed with prejudice” usually means that the case is dismissed permanently, with no future recourse for the plaintiff to seek compensation.

A possible silver lining, according to Mesh News Desk, is that Ethicon/JJ has reportedly agreed that plaintiffs with more than one office revision who have trigger point injections, vaginal physical therapy or vaginal Valium will be treated the same as those plaintiffs who undergo revision surgery within five years.

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EPA helps Monsanto hide non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Link

(July 5, 2018)  The EPA helps Monsanto hide a non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma link with the only active ingredient listed in the chemical giant’s Roundup. That’s the story that emerged when we pull back the curtain and expose the EPA for what it is.  As with many governmental regulators (like the CDC with its giant conflict of interest in vaccination), EPA works ostensibly as a government watchdog to protect people from profit-driven corporations.  In reality, as this latest evidence shows, the EPA works first for corporations and secondarily (if at all) for U.S. citizens.

Related:  Monsanto EPA Ties Cancerous

A new report proves the EPA purposely ignored evidence showing a clear link between glyphosate (in Monsanto’s Roundup and other pesticide poisons) and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The report shows the EPA obscured, cherry-picked, and/or simply ignored data presented by a Scientific Advisory Panel charged with reviewing the EPA’s glyphosate evaluation. The evidence shows the EPA deliberately misrepresented the opinions of the scientific panel.

Roundup Lawsuits
The EPA’s covering for Monsanto comes doubly into play, as many farmers, landscapers, agricultural workers, and homeowners have taken Monsanto to court over Roundup links to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The plaintiffs accuse the chemical giant of lying about glyphosate’s safety profile.  Monsanto continues to claim that Roundup is “half as toxic as table salt.”  Hundreds of farmers and homeowners who have suffered with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after using Roundup disagree.  Many have filed Roundup lawsuits that accuse Monsanto of hiding Roundup’s cancer-causing effects.  The research obscured and/or ignored by the EPA shows the link between Roundup and cancer is real.

EPA ignored glyphosate cancer link – 2017
Bloomberg reported that a panel of scientists not connected with Monsanto assembled in 2017 to review the EPA’s glyphosate evaluation. Fifteen experts comprised the Scientific Advisory Panel. Nearly all of them took issue with the EPA’s conclusion on glyphosate.  Eleven of the 15 disagreed with the EPA’s hasty decision to give glyphosate and Monsanto a free pass over Roundup and glyphosate’s links with cancer.

Four of the six reviewers assigned to evaluate epidemiological data criticized the EPA for disregarding pertinent data regarding glyphosate’s potential link with cancer.  All four of the “dissenters” are biomedical researchers at leading research universities. The two who approved of EPA’s glyphosate evaluation are private consultants, which means they work almost exclusively for industry interests.

EPA officials inexplicably tossed out all but one meta-analysis of epidemiological data. They claimed the rest of the results were “statistically invalid.” But the panelists discovered that this specious claim simply was not true. They found the data was valid.

EPA Monsanto Collusion Unveiled
After taking a second look at the data, the panelists found the discarded meta-analyses were statistically significant. That data showed that farmers exposed to glyphosate had an increased risk ratio for non-Hodgkin lymphoma of 1.27 to 1.5. Those figures mean those farmers experienced a 27- to 50-percent higher risk of cancer than control groups.

One of the researchers pointed out that women in America stopped taking post-menopause estrogen because of a 22-percent increased risk in breast cancer. The risk association of glyphosate nearly doubles that risk.

EPA Assessment “Highly Imbalanced (and) “Seriously Flawed”
A University of Washington at Seattle biostatistician, Lianne Sheppard, said the EPA’s assessment on glyphosate was “highly imbalanced. She said the EPA clearly downplayed relevant findings.

“The agency’s conclusion is seriously flawed and needs to be strongly revised,” said Ms. Sheppard.

EPA obscured criticisms of Itself
Besides willfully disregarding statistically significant information regarding glyphosate’s potential to cause cancer and promote tumor growth, the EPA has also taken steps to downplay the Panel’s criticisms of the EPA itself.

The EPA’s report on the Scientific Advisory Panel’s peer review does everything possible to hide the fact that most of the panelists criticized the EPA and its handling of the glyphosate analysis.

The EPA not only failed to disclose the number of scientists who launched criticisms at the EPA, it repeatedly used a lying euphemism in an attempt to cover up its fraudulent work. The EPA’s’s report used the lie of a phrase “some panel members” an astounding 76 times. Any 12-year-old child can see that substituting the word “some” for “a majority” or even “most” is simply a disingenuous way to lie and mislead.

That majority of panelists who criticized the EPA’s pseudo science could also criticize its pseudo independence, the EPA glaring conflict of interest with the pesticide industry. The EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs received nearly 30 percent of its funding from the pesticide industry last year. So who is this agency working for – the pesticide industry or the people targeted by the industry to buy pesticides?

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Quest Labs will pay $1.8 Million for overbilling scheme

(July 2, 2018)  Quest.8 Million for overbilling scheme"> Labs will pay $1.8 million for an overbilling scheme that defrauded Medicare and Medicaid.  That payment will likely not come as a surprise to the many Quest customers who level similar charges on the Quest review page at ConsumerAffairs.com.  There, some 267 Quest Diagnostics Consumer Reviews and Complaints (55 in the last year) average out to give Quest a dismal 1-star rating on a 1-5 star scale.  Those 267 reviewers are all verified, according to the web site.

Quest Diagnostics, Inc. and Quest Diagnostics Clinical Laboratories agreed to pay the U.S. $1.79 million, in April 2018, to settle claims of violations of the False Claims Act.

Echoing charges from many of the reviewers who question Quest’s billing practices on the Consumer Affairs web site, Quest was accused by the U.S. government of submitting duplicative claims to Medicare for several different tests.  Quest claimed its double billing was due to IT issues that affected some test codes in its system.  Quest denied any wrongdoing and said the problem won’t reoccur since the company updated its billing systems.

That said, we offer a typical example of the many one-star reviews of Quest Diagnostics.  One of the 267 verified reviewers, “S. Of Calif.”, published this statement on Jan 20, 2018:

“I have gone to Quest Diagnostics on my doctor’s recommendations since 2006. In that time I have had close to a million dollars in work performed by hospitals, clinics, and Quest labs. I have the entire time experienced with Quest only incorrect billing of my insurance on a consistent basis the entire time. I have multiple insurance overages. Quest not only billed my insurance companies but they, each time, have billed me forcing me to either pay the invoice or contact them to get it straightened out. This appears to be systemic with their billing practices. No other medical provider do I have this problem with. Now I am getting collection notices for bills that they were supposed to correct after alerting Quest that they had failed to bill it correctly. They refuse to correct the situation that they created causing me financial hardship and ongoing stress. With regard to the star rating if I could choose negative stars I would.”

Quest Diagnostic Whistleblower Lawsuit Settlement
Former Quest employee Eliza Martinez will receive $358,000 as her reward for blowing the whistle on Quest’s allegedly fraudulent billing practices.

Ms. Martinez testified that she saw Quest perform duplicate tests on the same patients on the same day, and then she saw Quest bill Medicare twice for that exact same test.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California investigated after Ms. Martinez filed the complaint. The settled claims are only allegations, by law; the government established no determination of liability.

One would think Quest makes enough dough not to overbill people or the government.  Quest generated some $7.5 billion in revenue in 2016.  The company runs more than 2,200 patient service centers that conduct lab tests.  Quest’s website says Quest “[s]erves about half of the physicians and hospitals in the U.S.”

Many of the Quest reviewers also question whether a company can be trusted to do its lab work right when it offers terrible customer service (never answering the phone is another common complaint) and then not only double bills but also erroneously turns those bills over to a collection agency.

Quest Lawsuit
It’s a fair question to ask, especially now that we know Quest has missed some diagnoses.  Quest is being sued today for missing a cancer diagnosis in more than 200 women in Ireland.  Quest has settled with a woman involved in at least one of those cases.  More than a dozen of the women have reportedly since died of cancer, while their survivors and others who believe they were misdiagnosed are also suing Quest for damages.  Quest lawsuits are being filed as a result.

Given the whistleblower lawsuit and the 267 awful reviews of Quest Diagnostics, one can only wonder whether this company is performing its diagnostic duties with the due diligence its customers expect and deserve.

Related
•  Quest Lawsuit
•  Whistleblower Lawsuit| Lawyer
•  Quest Labs will pay $1.8 Million for overbilling scheme

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Human Rights First helps Refugees

June 20 was World Refugee Day, which is somewhat ironic because the U.S. government’s “zero tolerance” policy has recently separated some 2,300 children from their parents.  Many are trying to escape to the United States to save their families’ lives.

Human Rights First is one organization singled out by ActBlue as one of a handful of organizations deserving support to help keep refugee families together.

Human Rights First helps Refugees

Human Rights First is one of the United States’ leading providers of pro bono legal services to refugees hoping to find safety in America.  With offices in New York; Washington; DC, Houston, Texas; and Los Angeles, Calif.,  HRF works with many of the country’s top law firms to win asylum and a path to citizenship for thousands of people escaping other countries.  HRF helped write the book on asylum reform.  The organization has been protecting refugees for four decades.

HRF also provides research and media outreach.  It works to push legislators to enact laws that reflect the ideals for which the U.S. was historically a global leader.  Human Rights First released a comprehensive report this week on unsafe refugee detention centers in Texas.  HRF continues its work to bring these issues to the press, U.S. legislators, and the executive branch of the administration.

Many of us want to do something proactive to help refugees.  Houston attorney David Matthews has been a longtime board member of Human Rights First.  He proudly supports the work of the organization and encourages everyone who can to donate in helping HRF help refugees and other peoples of the world caught in geo-political struggles that threaten their lives.

Mr. Matthews requests that his friends and supporters please consider making a donation to help Human Rights First help refugee families as they look to the United States for safety and a better life.

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J&J Talc Supplier agrees to Settle Lawsuits

(June 14, 2018)  A J&J talc supplier has agreed to pay at least $5 million to settle 22 ovarian cancer law suits, Reuters reported last week.  Imerys Talc America supplied Johnson & Johnson with talc for its Shower-to-Shower and Baby Powder products. Imery’s has agreed to the reported $5 million figure in order to settle a talcum powder lawsuit filed by 22 women.

The women all allege they developed ovarian cancer from regular, repeated use of J&J talc-based powders for feminine hygiene.  Their lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson is being heard now in Missouri’s 22nd Circuit Court in St. Louis.  Bloomberg News reported that Imerys agreed to the settlement just before the trial began.  A company spokesperson confirmed the agreement.

No Fault for Imery’s
Imerys has not admitted fault for any of the plaintiffs’ injuries. The company continues to deny its talc was tainted with asbestos, as does Johnson & Johnson.  No exact settlement terms will be made public.

Talcum Powder Mesothelioma Verdicts
Johnson & Johnson and Imerys are named in more than 9,000 lawsuits which allege talc used to make Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower was tainted with asbestos. Lawsuit petitions all state that the talc caused regular users to develop ovarian cancer or mesothelioma.

Johnson & Johnson Talc Powder Mesothelioma Trials
A California jury ordered J&J and its talcum suppliers – including Imerys – to pay a woman $27.1 million for her claim that asbestos-tainted Baby Powder caused her mesothelioma. The jury also added $4 million in punitive damages. It found J&J acted with malice, oppression, or fraud.

In April 2018, a New Jersey’s jury in Middlesex County Superior Court awarded a man $117 million in compensatory and punitive damages. He had alleged his life-long Baby Powder use was the only possible explanation for his mesothelioma. The jury found J&J and Imery’s Talc 70% and 30% liable (respectively) for damages incurred by the plaintiff and his wife.

Johnson & Johnson prevailed in a California mesothelioma trial that concluded in November 2017, but it has lost other talcum-mesothelioma cancer lawsuits.

A third California case was declared a mistrial in May 2018, and a recent South Carolina talc-meso trial was also declared a mistrial after the jury deadlocked.

Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer Verdicts
Plaintiffs have won four and lost two talc-cancer verdicts in Missouri’s 22nd Circuit Court.

•  February 2016: A jury ordered Johnson & Johnson and Imerys to pay $72 million* to the family  of an Alabama woman who died from ovarian cancer.
•   May 2016: A jury ordered J&J to pay $55 million to a South Dakota woman.
•   June 27, 2016: A jury ordered J&J to pay $70 million to California woman.
•   March 2017: A jury founds in favor of J&J against a Tennessee woman.
•   May 2017: J&J and Imerys were ordered to pay $110.5 million to a Virginia woman.**

*The $72 million verdict was later dismissed after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Bristol-Myers Squibb v. Superior Court of California. The high court held that a plaintiff must file suit where defendants are headquartered or else in the state where the plaintiff was injured.

**J&J challenged the $110 million verdict, but it was upheld. The trial court ruled jurisdiction was appropriate because J&J had used a Missouri-based company to label, package and distribute.

J&J Talc Supplier agrees to Settle Lawsuits

Johnson & Johnson is appealing the other four Missouri verdicts.  There has also been a concerted PR campaign from industry quarters to attack the Missouri court as unfairly favorable to plaintiffs.

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J&J Talc Trial for 22 Women

( June 8, 2018)Talcum Powder Lawsuit  A J&J talc trial for 22 women began last week in St. Louis.  Six of the women plaintiffs have died of ovarian cancer.  The 16 still alive also have ovarian cancer, which they said they got as a result of their daily use of Johnson & Johnson talcum powder products – either J&J’s Baby Powder or Shower to Shower. Their lawsuit charges that  J&J willfully ignored evidence that the powder was tainted with deadly asbestos.

The 22 women hail from all across the nation.  The court anticipates hearing from each of them or from a surviving family member over the course of the trial.

Related:  J&J Talc Powder Cancer Lawsuit

Johnson & Johnson representatives and company lawyers say the talc in Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower is a cosmetic grade that was, and is, free of asbestos.  J&J says many  scientific and governmental organizations that have investigated any talc-cancer link have not been persuaded.

But the women’s attorney, Mark Lanier, argued in opening statement that J&J worked furiously to keep the talc-asbestos evidence hidden from the public.

The Houston attorney told the jury of an Italian mine that supplied J&J’s talc for baby powder.  The Italians warned J&J that they had asbestos in their talc mines.  He said, “[T]he company sends two of their big dogs over to Italy to get in front of that company and say, ‘Please stop this English translation from going out until we can work on it and take out the asbestos section.’”

Rigged Talc Asbestos Tests?
Mr. Lanier told the jury he expected J&J’s defense attorney to show them “document after document” in his own opening in an attempt to prove the company performed hundreds of tests to rule out any possible asbestos in J&J talc products.

“They rigged the tests,” shrugged Mr. Lanier.  “They rigged the tests.”

Mr. Lanier called J&J’s baby powder the company’s “sacred cow.” He said talc mines are “marbled” with asbestos like streaks.  He said testing should be done on “concentrate” asbestos, like orange juice.  He said asbestos doesn’t reveal itself via “onion properties” like smell, visibility, sneezing or eye-watering.

The defense attorney did not fall short of performing as Lanier had anticipated for the jury. “Millions of women who’ve used baby powder have not gotten cancer,” he said.  “And most who have ovarian cancer did not use baby powder.”

“We believe and have always believed that there isn’t [asbestos in J&J talc],” said the defense lawyer.  “Independent laboratories said there’s no asbestos. Universities and research centers said there’s no asbestos. Government agencies, no asbestos. Johnson & Johnson’s testing, no asbestos. The talc suppliers’ certificates, no asbestos.”

He said at least one of the plaintiffs had brought her own bottle of baby powder to a deposition, and when asked to read the back of the bottle, read, “Pure cornstarch”– not talc.

He further alleged that every one of the 22 women had a family history of cancer.

“Asbestos is everywhere,” the defense attorney told the jury.  “[T]heir experts will say to you that everybody, you, me, everyone has asbestos in their tissue because of what is in the atmosphere. I don’t think there’ll be any dispute about that.”

Witnesses expected in this trial include materials scientist Bill Longo and mineralogist Dr. Alice Blount for plaintiffs.  Matthew Sanchez of R.J. Lee Group and gynecological oncologists Cheryl Saenz and Warner Huh are expected to testify for J&J.

The trial for the 22 women is expected to last a couple of weeks.  It comes on the heels of several previous talc-cancer trials over Johnson& Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower. It has been a mixed bag of results so far, as plaintiffs have won some and J&J has prevailed in some.  In addition, some large verdicts for women have been overturned on appeal.

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Monsanto hid Roundup Cancer Link, says dying Plaintiff

(May 23, 2018)  Monsanto hid a Roundup cancer link, says dying plaintiff DeWayne Johnson, 46. Mr. Johnson has terminal cancer which he says was caused by Monsanto’s Roundup. A former groundskeeper, Mr. Johnson will become the first person to face the chemical giant in a U.S. court over an alleged Roundup-cancer link. Mr. Johnson’s case against Monsanto will open in San Francisco County Superior Court beginning June 18, 2018.

Groundskeeper used Roundup for years
A father of three, Mr. Johnson was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma at the age of 42. His lawsuit states that he had worked for a California school district, “where his responsibilities included direct application of Roundup and RangerPro, another Monsanto glyphosate product, to school properties.”

Monsanto hid risks, polluted science – attorney
Mr. Johnson’s s attorney told The Guardian: “Monsanto does not want the truth about Roundup and cancer to become public. (We) look forward to exposing how Monsanto hid the risk of cancer and polluted the science.”

Related:  Roundup non-Hodgkin’s Lyphoma Lawsuit

Monsanto hid Roundup Cancer Link, says dying Plaintiff

Monsanto tried to keep experts hired by Mr. Johnson from testifying. Monsanto also tried to keep his legal team from using certain research. Some of Monsanto’s efforts to quash evidence were granted, according to the order signed by San Francisco Superior Court judge Curtin Karnow last week. The judge did, however, rule that Mr. Johnson’s lawyers could use various peer-reviewed studies and some expert evidence for the trial.

Some of the judge’s judgments may have been influenced by a California appeals court which last week turned back a Monsanto challenge to keep the state of California from including glyphosate – the main active ingredient Monsanto declares in Roundup – on its list of probable carcinogens. Following the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) designation of glyphosate as a probable carcinogen, the state followed its legal mandate and added glyphosate to its own list of probable carcinogens. Monsanto attempted to have the state stopped from listing glyphosate as a carcinogen, but failed in the California courts.

Thus far, however, US and EU watchdogs have not banned glyphosate and Roundup from widespread agricultural use.  Glyphosate use has, however, been banned or restricted in large parts of Europe because of its alleged links to many health problems, ranging from birth defects and kidney failure to coeliac disease, colitis and autism.

France, the Netherlands and Sweden have all said they would not support an assessment by the European food safety authority (Efsa) that glyphosate is harmless.

Monsanto denies all
Monsanto says Mr. Johnson’s cancer was not caused by exposure to Monsanto products. Monsanto has rejected all allegations and scientific findings regarding the carcinogenicity of glyphosate.  Monsanto has effectively kept government regulators looking at glyphosate when it is never used alone, and Roundup has been shown to be many times more toxic than glypohoste alone.

Roundup Lawsuits
Approximately 4,000 plaintiffs have filed Roundup lawsuits similar to Mr. Johnson’s, claiming that they or their relatives were given cancer – usually non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma – from exposure to Monsanto’s Roundup.

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Court rejects Monsanto Challenge to Cancer Warning

(May 18, 2018) Unless you’ve been living in a cave for three years, you already know Monsanto’s glyphosate was declared a probable carcinogen (in March 2015) by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).  That declaration threatened – and threatens – billions of dollars in Monsanto profits. Glyphosate is the main active ingredient listed in Roundup, Monsanto’s best-selling poison. Roundup is the cornerstone of Monsanto’s worldwide efforts to control agriculture.  All agriculture.  It’s a high-stakes game.  If farmers and homeowners were to learn that Roundup can kill them just as it kills weeds and pollinator bees, they might stop using it altogether.  Many more people might learn about Monsanto’s links to cancer now.  A court just rejected Monsanto’s challenge to a cancer warning over glyphosate.

Related:  Snopes Lies for Monsanto

After the 2015 IARC cancer ruling on glyphosate, the state of California followed its own laws and listed glyphosate on its list of chemicals known to cause cancer. Monsanto promptly sued the state to de-list glyphosate. California countersued for the right to enforce its own laws.  A California district judge heard both sides’ arguments, then ruled yesterday.  It was an important victory for citizen’s rights in the face of millions in corporate dollars and an army of Monsanto attorneys who tried to exonerate the poison king from Missouri.

Court rejects Monsanto Challenge to Cancer Warning
Fortunately, California’s Fifth District Court of Appeals in Fresno rejected Monsanto’s argument that glyphosate is not carcinogenic.  That meant California can exercise its right to list glyphosate as a carcinogen and prevent it from being discharged into public waterways.

Roundup Kills

Roundup kills; that’s what it does.  It kills things.  It kills people, too.  It kills them with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other types of leukemia.  Many, many people have been hoodwinked for a long, long time over Roundup, for more than 20 years. Millions of gallons of Roundup poison have now been dumped on farmland all over the world. Millions of gallons of Roundup have run into the world’s waterways. So much Roundup has polluted the world that glyphosate is now found in most rainwater, as well as in most human beings and in most food tested. It has even been found in organic foods, in organic wine, though thankfully not in as great a volume as in GMO foods like corn and soy which are sprayed directly with the poison.

Thanks to Monsanto, the U.S. Congress, the EPA, and the US FDA, Roundup is now nearly as ubiquitous as oxygen. But that doesn’t mean we all have to continue to put up with it, or to  acquiesce in our own slow poisoning. (Called “softkill” in military parlance.) We don’t need to acquiesce to the destruction of mother earth and all of its gifts: pollinator bees, birds, plants, people.

Mainstream Media and Monsanto Advertising

A google search of “Monsanto Roundup cancer” will first turn up a litany of screeds aimed at attacking and discrediting the IARC. Corpocracy-addled publications like Reuters and Forbes, and several of Monsanto’s own responses are the first thing you will find.  On the web, newsfakers like Snopes.com blatantly lie for Monsanto.  They all claim the IARC “edited out” evidence showing glyphosate was safe.  What IARC did was not edit out; it chose not to include those studies presented by Monsanto or its research minions, who all found that glyphosate was safe (of course).   Most searches of “Roundup cancer” will be dominated on page one by screeds meant to discredit the IARC, and all of them mis-state, as does Monsanto, the agency’s methods for determining that glyphosate is a probable carcinogen.

Why is the mainstream media so solidly behind Monsanto, providing a unified front?  The answer is too easy.  Monsanto spends millions of dollars advertising Roundup, and it gets what it pays for.  Monsanto gets favorable coverage, as MSM falls into lockstep with Monsanto’s own messaging. Nearly every mainstream outlet mirrors Monsanto’s own mean-spirited, fact-challenged rebuttals to the IARC’s declaration that glyphosate is a probable carcinogen.

The attacks on IARC all say the same thing, that the agency ignored evidence which exonerated glyphosate and Monsanto. What all those IARC attack pieces fail to say is that the IARC looked only at INDEPENDENT research evidence of gyphosate’s carcinogenicity. It did not include research paid for by Monsanto or performed by Monsanto employees or the company’s “scientific” minions. Virtually all of the attack pieces – and they dominate every ‘Roundup cancer’ or ‘Monsanto Roundup cancer’ search page – fail to mention that Monsanto’s own research with obviously vested interest was not included. The evidence IARC “overlooked” was not overlooked. It was rejected by the agency as not credible, given its sources and obvious conflict of interest.

California Contradictions
California is a state full of contradictions. In a Draconian horror show three years ago, the state killed informed consent for vaccinations, for all intents forcing vaccinations on kids if they wanted to attend California public schools. That meant, and means, that state officials can inject California schoolchildren with virtually any vaccinations the state, and money-toting lobbyists from Merck Pharmaceuticals and other multi-national drug companies, think the students “need,” regardless of their wishes or the wishes of their parents. That is an awful slippery slope, when the state removes parental rights. Forcing vaccinations and removing informed consent is nothing less than communistic. Removing informed consent is what they do in China, not in America.

But at least in these dark days where corporations are spending more and more money – ala Citizens United and other government-sanctioned takeovers – to take away more and more of our individual rights, it is nice to see that sometimes a judge stands up for the rights of the individual not to be poisoned by corporate chemicals and the endless corporate lust for unfettered profits.

Of course this fight is far from over, though environmental activists have been quick to applaud the Fresno ruling.  A lawyer for the Natural Resources Defense Council in San Francisco, Rebecca Riley, called it “a win for science and democracy.”

Ms. Riley added, “The ruling clearly backs the voters’ choice to rely on expert scientific bodies to add dangerous chemicals to its list.”

Monsanto Appeal Likely, of course
Upholding states’ rights is always a cause for celebration in these dark days of complete corporate takeover of the commons and our politicians, but Monsanto will likely take this case to the next level. It will probably ask the Supreme Court for another review. Monsanto at this juncture has little choice but to continue the big lie that Roundup is safe. It has too much invested not too, and too much liability if the world is allowed to discover the truth.

One can only fully expect Monsanto to continue to manipulate glyphosate “science” with its well-funded “scientists.” All of them help keep regulators like the Monsanto-compromised EPA and FDA focused on glyphosate alone. This ongoing subterfuge is an unfolding tragedy for the world, because Roundup has been found to be 125x more toxic than glyphosate alone, 125x more toxic than regulators claim.

For all this talk about glyphosate, it is Roundup at which EPA and other regulators need to be looking, not the red herring of glyphosate.

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