Costco quits selling Roundup

(July 22, 2019) Costco announced this summer that it will quit selling Roundup.  A Costco spokesperson announced May 29 that the company is not planning to sell Monsanto’s best-selling concoction this season. Some 12,000 Roundup lawsuits now plague the beleaguered chemical company.

Costco’s decision came shortly after Monsanto lost its third straight trial tying Roundup to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. A Costco spokesperson announced: “Costco is constantly reviewing its (product) lineup, and is not planning to sell RoundUp this season.”

The announcement came closely on the heels of Monsanto’s latest trial loss over Roundup, a $2.055 million verdict for a couple who both developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma following years of Roundup exposure. Alva and Alberta Pilliod, a couple in their seventies, have both been diagnosed with lymphoma. Alva suffers from a non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that has moved into his bones and spine. Alberta has brain cancer linked to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

The decision not to carry RoundUp is not one that most giant box stores have followed. Home Depot, Walmart, Target, Kroger and others continue to sell Monsanto’s toxic pesticide despite the many Roundup lawsuits which followed cancer warnings issued by the World Health Organization. In 2015, the WHO declared that glyphosate – Roundup’s only listed active ingredient, despite much evidence that shows Roundup’s surfactants greatly increase the toxicity of the entire Roundup cocktail – is a “probable carcinogen. ” The WHO arrived at its conclusion after reviewing approximately 1000 independent studies, none of which were sponsored by Monsanto.

Retailers that sold people Roundup have not been named so far in the lawsuits against Monsanto, nor has the U.S. EPA, which regulates (if one can call it that) Roundup and glyphosate for consumer, commercial or agricultural use. So far, most Roundup lawsuit petitions have not named any of these peripheral parties in the more than 12,000 new lawsuits that have been filed to date against Bayer AG, which now owns Monsanto.

Curiously, the U.S. EPA first banned glyphosate more than 30 years ago, then inexplicably reversed its decision. Roundup remains on most shelves today despite the growing body of scientific evidence linking Roundup and lymphoma, along with Monsanto’s three huge legal losses over the product. The company is now 0-3 in Roundup cancer trials.

Meanwhile, Monsanto and Bayer AG continue to repeat their claim that “four decades of extensive science” prove Roundup is safe. Recent evidence suggests, however, that at least some of that “science” may have been forged. Unsealed documents released as part of another court case suggest Monsanto may have faked its own safety studies to produce its own corrupt science.

According to US Right to Know,the third Roundup-cancer case to go to trial  revealed several damning facts about Monsanto.  They include:

  • Monsanto spent millions of dollars to develop covert PR campaigns. The money financed ghostwritten studies and stories aimed at discrediting independent scientists whose work found Monsanto’s poison products were not as safe as Monsanto advertised them to be.
  • When the US Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry sought to evaluate glyphosate toxicity in 2015, Monsanto engaged the assistance of EPA officials to delay that review.
  • Monsanto enjoyed a close relationship with certain industry-compromised EPA officials who have repeatedly backed Monsanto assertions about the safety of its glyphosate products.
  • Monsanto’s internal worker safety recommendations called for wearing a full range of protective gear when applying glyphosate herbicides; but Monsanto failed to warn the public to do the same.
  • As part of the third trial, evidence showed Monsanto hired a corporate intelligence company “to take the temperature on current regulatory attitudes for glyphosate.” That company’s report indicated that a domestic policy advisor at the White House said: “We have Monsanto’s back on pesticides regulation. We are prepared to go toe-to-toe on any disputes they may have with, for example, the EU. Monsanto need not fear any additional regulation from this administration.”

Monsanto\EPA Collusion

Other shocking news also came out of the third trial against Monsanto: emails were released showing EPA officials may have colluded with Monsanto to help slow the release of the dangers of the pesticide from the public. EPA also fed Monsanto consistent updates.

So why does the EPA continue to allow the sale of Roundup?  Why do many retailers continuing to sell it, given glyphosate’s research-based link to genetic damageAlzheimer’s disease, and a wide range of other health issues that include ADHD, Alzheimer’s Disease, autism, birth defects, celiac disease, colitis, heart disease, inflammatory bowel syndrome, kidney disease, liver disease, Parkinson’s Disease?

Glyphosate Unsafe at any Dose

Another study released by the US Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) Education Fund, cites research that shows as little as 1 part per trillion of glyphosate can stimulate breast cancer and disrupt the body’s delicate hormonal system.

The Global Glyphosate Study found that the so-called “safe” amounts set by the EPA aren’t actually safe at all and are instead linked to microbiome imbalances and DNA damage. A microbiome is the sum of all the microbes in the body. It differs from person to person, creating a sort of microscopic “fingerprint.” While our understanding of microbiomes is still new and incomplete, an imbalanced microbiome may be a risk factor for many possible diseases.

Fourth Roundup Trial

The fourth Roundup cancer trial is slated for this fall in St. Louis, Monsanto’s hometown.

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Fourth Roundup Trial set for Monsanto’s Hometown

(July 9, 2019) After losing the first three Roundup trials by decisive, unanimous jury verdicts in California, Monsanto is set to face its fourth Roundup trial next month in the company’s hometown. Whether Roundup cancer plaintiffs or Monsanto will enjoy any edge in a Roundup trial staged in St. Louis is an open question.

Which side has the edge in St. Louis?

Some may feel the plaintiff’s side has the edge in St. Louis. Unlike the three California trials, Monsanto employees can be forced to appear on the witness stand in the Missouri venue. In addition, recent legal history at the gateway to the West has seen several juries levy large verdicts against corporate defendants.

On the other hand, Monsanto has donated lots of (tax deductible) monies to local charities, and it may be difficult for the plaintiff’s side to find a juror in the area who either hasn’t worked for the chemical giant, or who doesn’t know a family member, friend, or acquaintance who has.

Plaintiff Sharlean Gordon

The plaintiff in the fourth trial is Sharlean Gordon, a cancer-stricken woman in her 50s. Her case – Gordon v. Monsanto – begins Aug. 19 in St. Louis County Circuit Court. The venue is located just a few miles from the St. Louis-area campus that long functioned as Monsanto’s world headquarters, until Bayer bought Monsanto in June 2018. Ms. Gordon’s case was filed in July 2017, in a petition that includes more than 75 plaintiffs. Hers is the first case in the first group in St. Louis to go to trial.

According to her lawsuit petition, Ms. Gordon purchased Roundup and used it for at least 15 continuous years, through approximately 2017. She was diagnosed with a form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2006.  She has suffered two stem cell transplants, and, at one point in her treatment, spent a year in a nursing home. She is now so debilitated that it is difficult for her to walk or even  move at all.

Roundup-non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Link

Sharlean Gordon’s case — like that of some 12,000 others filed around the U.S. — alleges that using Monsanto’s glyphosate-based herbicides caused her to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Ms. Gordon’s lawyer called the evidence against Monsanto, along with the company’s conduct, “the most outrageous I’ve seen in my 30 years of doing this. (The) things that have gone on here, I want St. Louis juries to hear this stuff.”

Ms. Gordon’s trial will be followed by a September 9 jury trial also set for St. Louis County, in a case brought by plaintiffs Maurice Cohen and Burrell Lamb.

Monsanto 0-3 vs. Roundup Plaintiffs

The August and September trials follow a stunning $2 billion jury verdict decided against Monsanto on May 13, 2019. In that case, an Oakland, California jury awarded married couple Alva and Alberta Pilliod, who both suffer from cancer, $55 million in compensatory damages and $1 billion each in punitive damages.

Monsanto Covered Up Evidence

The Pilliod trial jury found that Monsanto has spent years covering up evidence that Roundup, along with its only listed active ingredient – glyphosate – cause cancer.

That latest ($2 Billion) verdict came just over a month after a San Francisco jury ordered Monsanto to pay $80 million in damages to Edwin Hardeman, who also developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma after using Roundup. In the first Roundup trial last summer in San Francisco, a jury ordered Monsanto to pay $289 million to groundskeeper Dewayne “Lee” Johnson. Mr. Johnson was diagnosed with terminal cancer after he used Monsanto’s top-selling poisons in his school groundskeeper’s job.

Plaintiffs’ lawyers in the California cases were unable to compel Monsanto scientists and executives to testify because they had to travel more than 100 miles or out of the state where they live or work. In St. Louis, that dynamic changes dramatically. Plaintiffs’ attorneys in the St. Louis trials plan to subpoena several Monsanto scientists to appear on the witness stand to answer questions directly in front of a jury.

Monsanto / Bayer Investor Confidence Shattered

The three huge trial losses have left Monsanto and its German owner Bayer AG under heavy criticism from angry investors and shareholders. Monsanto’s unsettled investors have pushed share prices to their lowest levels in nearly seven years. Monsanto’s poison Roundup problems have erased more than 40 percent of Bayer’s market value.

Some angry investors are calling for Bayer CEO Werner Baumann’s head. Mr. Baumann pushed for Bayer’s Monsanto acquisition, which closed in June 2018 just as the first Roundup trial was starting.

Bayer maintains that no valid evidence proves a cancer causation link with Monsanto’s herbicides. Bayer says it believes it will win on appeal. U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria, however, has ordered Bayer to begin mediation talks aimed at potentially settling the sprawling mass of lawsuits that includes roughly 13,400 plaintiffs in the United States alone.

All the plaintiffs are cancer victims or family members of same. All allege Monsanto engaged in a plethora of deceptive tactics to hide the risks of its poison herbicides. Charges include Monsanto’s manipulating the scientific record with ghostwritten studies, colluding with regulators, using outside people and organizations to promote the safety of Monsanto products while making sure they appeared to be acting independently of the company.

Roundup Lawsuits in Canada

Meanwhile, the Roundup litigation that began in the U.S has crossed into Canada. A Saskatchewan farmer leads  a class action lawsuit against Bayer and Monsanto. His allegations mirror those brought in the U.S. lawsuits.

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Chlorpyrifos Tragedy enabled by EPA

The ongoing chlorpyrifos tragedy that has unfolded over several decades shows once again how our Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been captured by industry. EPA executives have violated the agency’s own rules in order to keep chlorpyrifos on the market. The story of chlorpyrifos – along with Monsanto’s cancerous Roundup – shows just how blatant the corruption of the agency has become.

Related: Monsanto Trials reveal EPA Industry Ties 

What is Chlorpyrifos?

Chlorpyrifos is a highly toxic pesticide harming our children and us, as industrial chemical farming operators continue to use it despite well-established data proving its neurotoxicity.

Chlorpyrifos (pronounced: klawr-pir-uh-fos) is widely used in U.S. chemical agriculture. Industrial farmers spray it on crops to kill different  pests. It smells slightly skunky or sulfuric, somewhat like rotten eggs or garlic. It can harm those who touch, inhale, or eat food it has poisoned, and that involves a lot of food, including most of the naton’s GMO corn and many of our non-organic fruits and vegetables.

Lower Birth Weight, Reduced IQ, Loss of Memory, More

Acutely toxic, chlorpyrifos is linked with neurodevelopmental harms in children. Prenatal chlorpyrifos exposures are linked with lower birth weight, reduced IQ, loss of working memory, attention disorders, delayed motor development.

Acute poisoning suppresses the enzyme that regulates nerve impulses in the body and can cause convulsions, respiratory paralysis, and sometimes even death. Chlorpyrifos is one of the pesticides most often linked to pesticide poisonings. Besides “accidental” exposures, the poison has harmed  thousands of people directly, purposely, as it was first used in trench warfare as a nerve gas agent to sicken or kill the other side’s soldiers.

How are people exposed to chlorpyrifos?

Today, civilians are exposed to chlorpyrifos through residues on foods commonly sprayed with it, like corn, wheat, fruits and vegetables; by drinking water contamination; from toxic spray that drifts from pesticide applications. Farm workers are exposed to chlorpyrifos from mixing, handling, and spraying it. They also face chlorpyrifos exposure while entering fields where it was recently sprayed.

EPA Bans Chlorpyrifos’ Home Use in 2000

Even the EPA has found unacceptable risks to human beings, banning chlorpyrifos for home use in 2000. (Apparently the agency thinks the chemical has magical “targeting” properties when used on our food and made to run off into our drinking water.) Children are especially at risk because they often stick their hands in their mouths. They also eat more fruits and vegetables and drink more water and juice for their weight compared with adults.

EPA reneges on Chlorpyrifos Ban

Many grassroots citizen’s groups, like Earthjustice, have demanded that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ban chlorpyrifos, as it is known to harm human health, water, and wildlife. The U.S. EPA was mandated by the courts to make a decision in 2017. However, two days before the deadline, the slippery agency refused to ban chlorpyrifos. The EPA then reversed its own proposal to ban the pesticide.

After years of work in the courts, Earthjustice attorneys presented oral arguments – on behalf of the organization’s clients – at a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals en banc re-hearing on Mar. 26, 2019. Earthjustice attorneys argued that chlorpyrifos must be banned from all food uses.

Some 24 days later, the Ninth Circuit issued its ruling: U.S. EPA is ordered to decide by Jul. 18 whether to ban chlorpyrifos.

Patti Goldman, the lead attorney, explained the legal issues behind the case shortly before the Ninth Circuit rehearing:

“The Ninth Circuit had, on Aug. 9, 2018, previously ordered U.S. EPA to finalize its proposed ban on chlorpyrifos within 60 days, based on undisputed findings that the pesticide is unsafe for public health, and particularly harmful to children and farmworkers. The agency stalled, requesting the court to re-hear the case.”

The Earthjustice client list includes the League of United Latin American Citizens; Pesticide Action Network North America; Natural Resources Defense Council; California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation; Farmworkers Association of Florida; Farmworker Justice; Greenlatinos; Labor Council for Latin American Advancement; Learning Disabilities Association of America; National Hispanic Medical Association; Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste; and United Farm Workers.

Why Chlorpyrifos needs banning

A growing pile of evidence shows prenatal exposure to even very low levels of chlorpyrifos – those far lower than what EPA has been using – permanently harm babies. Peer-reviewed studies tracking real-world chlorpyrifos exposures of mothers and their children have reached similar conclusions.

In November 2016, EPA released a revised human health risk assessment for chlorpyrifos that confirmed that there are no safe uses for the pesticide. EPA found that:

  • All food exposures exceed safe levels. Children aged 1–2 are exposed to levels of chlorpyrifos 140 times what even the EPA deems safe.
  • There is no safe level of chlorpyrifos in drinking water.
  • Pesticide drift reaches unsafe levels at 300 feet from the field’s edge.
  • Chlorpyrifos is found at unsafe levels in the air at schools, homes, and communities in agricultural areas.
  • All workers who mix and apply chlorpyrifos are exposed to unsafe levels of it, even with maximum personal protective equipment and engineering controls.
  • Field workers are allowed to re-enter fields within 1–5 days after pesticide spraying, but unsafe exposures continue 18 days (on average) after applications.

With these shocking findings, one can only wonder how the EPA can now fight to stop or delay a complete ban on this poison. The disgraced former U.S. Attorney General Scott Pruitt began the latest round of EPA corruption when he reversed an Obama-era plan to phase out and ban the chemical entirely. Mr. Pruitt is gone, thankfully, as he resigned under duress; but his dirty work lives on, at least for now.

Chlorpyrifos Lawsuits

Besides lawsuits against the U.S. EPA for failing to enforce its own edicts, chlorpyrifos lawsuits are being filed for people and their children who have been harmed by this toxic chemical made by Dow, who also brought us the war crime poison Agent Orange, along with a nasty list of other toxic chemicals poisoning the world.

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Penn. Court Ruling gives Clergy Abuse Victims Time

(June 24, 2019)  A Pennsylvania Superior Court ruling this month gives clergy abuse victims more time to file a claim.  On June 11, 2019, the state’s highest court reversed a lower court which had found the claims of a woman time-barred after she alleged that she was abused as a child in the church.  This reversal in her case potentially opens the door for many others to pursue claims which were previously thought to be time barred by statutes of limitations.

Related:  Pennsylvania Priest Abuse Lawsuit

The woman’s case – and perhaps the fate of hundreds of others – turned on the work of a special Pennsylvania grand jury.  Last summer, that jury published the results of a two-year study which found that more than 1,000 Catholic students had been abused by more than 300 priests in the last several decades in the Penn diocese. The church’s cover-up of all those crimes led to the June 11 ruling.

Church’s Cover-up Opens up SOL

The Penn Superior Court ruled on June 11 that the woman’s lawsuit is not time barred because the church engaged in fraud and covered up her abuser’s previous crimes prior to his sexually abusing her. When the plaintiff had previously filed her case and attempted to pursue a lawsuit against her alleged abuser and the diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, church officials claimed not to know that her abuser had also been previously accused of abusing other children before her.  Documents uncovered in the 2018 Penn. grand jury investigation appear to show that those church officials were lying. They knew of the priest’s prior history of abuse, yet failed to take proper action.

Fraud, Constructive Fraud, Civil Conspiracy

The Penn. Superior court’s ruling explains that Ms. Rice read the 37th Investigative Grand Jury Report detailing a systematic cover-up of pedophile clergy in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. She sued the Diocese, Bishop Adamec, and Monsignor Michael E. Servinsky 1 (“the Diocesan Defendants”) a few months later. Ms. Rice alleges that they committed fraud, constructive fraud, and civil conspiracy to protect their reputations and that of Reverend Charles F. Bodziak, her childhood priest and accused abuser.

Case was previously Time Barred

Because Fr. Bodziak allegedly molested Ms. Rice in the 1970s and 1980s, the trial court, relying on the Penn. Superior Court’s precedents and the statute of limitations, dismissed her lawsuit. Claiming that the trial court should apply the discovery rule, the fraudulent concealment doctrine, and the statute of limitations for civil conspiracy, Ms. Rice appealed.

Nicolaou v. Martin

Ten months later, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania decided Nicolaou v. Martin, 195 A.3d 880 (Pa. 2018). The High Court emphasized the jury’s prerogative, under the discovery rule, to decide whether a plaintiff’s efforts to investigate a defendant were sufficiently reasonable to toll the statute of limitations. The court wrote that, “Nicolaou has opened the courthouse doors for Ms. Rice’s case to proceed past the pleadings stage, notwithstanding this Court’s precedents to the contrary.”

Fraudulent-Concealment Theory

The court further wrote:  “In addition, Ms. Rice’s alleged circumstances allow her to argue to the finder of fact that the Diocesan Defendants owed her a fiduciary duty to disclose their ongoing cover-up and Fr. Bodziak’s history of child molestation. By failing to disclose, the Diocesan Defendants’ silence may have induced Ms. Rice to relax her vigilance or to deviate from her right of inquiry. The trial court, therefore, erred by not permitting her case to proceed according to her fraudulent-concealment theory. 

Finally, even if a jury rejects those two tolling theories, Ms. Rice’s civil conspiracy count remains viable. She alleges a continuing conspiracy and that the last act in furtherance of the conspiracy occurred in 2016. Based upon these allegations, Ms. Rice has filed this lawsuit well within the statute of limitations for civil conspiracy. 

Accordingly, we reverse the order granting judgment on the pleadings to the Diocesan Defendants and remand for the case to proceed in the trial court.”

Facts Alleged in the Complaint

Ms. Rice alleges in her First Amended Complaint that she belonged – as a child and teenager – to St. Leo’s Church in Altoona. She attended the Catholic school associated with her parish when the Diocesan Defendants assigned Fr. Bodziak to serve as St. Leo’s pastor. They did so despite knowing or having reason to know he had molested young girls. Fr. Bodziak began sexually abusing Ms. Rice in the mid-1970s when she was about nine years old. He  continued abusing her until she turned 14.

Fr. Bodziak asked Ms. Rice’s parents if she could clean the rectory where he lived. They agreed, and while she cleaned his home, the priest gave Ms. Rice wine and sexually assault her. Ms. Rice also played the organ at St. Leo’s Church and sang at masses. Under the auspices of allowing her to practice her music, Fr. Bodziak gave her a key to the church. Then he repeatedly kissed and molested her in the choir loft. The abuse increased to twice a week – in the priest’s car, a nearby cemetery, the rectory, the church itself. Some 35 years later, the Attorney General of Pennsylvania convened the 37th Statewide Investigative Grand Jury to examine child-sexual assault throughout the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese. It issued an official report of its findings on March 1, 2016.

From that report, Ms. Rice first learned that the Diocesan Defendants knew or should have known of Fr. Bodziak’s pedophilia prior to assigning him to St. Leo’s Church. The Defendants kept the evidence about abusive priests in a secret archive, separate from other personnel files. Ms. Rice asserted a confidential relationship between her and the Diocesan Defendants, based upon her work as a parish organist, cantor, and rectory cleaner, coupled with her young age, Catholic schooling, and the trust she had placed in the Diocesan Defendants to guide and to protect her.

The high court ruled that the “Diocesan Defendants purportedly violated their corresponding fiduciary duty to warn her about Fr. Bodziak’s past as a child predator. They thereby placed their own reputation and finances ahead of her safety and mental health.”

Penn. Court Ruling gives Clergy Abuse Victims Time

The case – WL 2427919 – is Renee’ A. RICE v DIOCESE OF ALTOONA-JOHNSTOWN, Bishop Joseph Adamec (Retired), Monsignor Michael E. Servinsky, Executor of the Estate of Bishop James Hogan, Deceased, and Reverend Charles F. Bodziak.

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New NY Law helps Sex abuse Victims

(June 10, 2019) A New York state law change this year helps sex abuse victims seek justice that may otherwise have been lost to them. The Child Victims Act had languished for years at the NY state Capitol before finally becoming law on Jan. 28, 2019. The new law gives victims of child sexual abuse a new opportunity to seek justice against their tormentor(s).

Governor Cuomo signs Bill S2440 into Law

The bill that Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law will give some long-suffering victims a belated victory which they had awaited for years. The governor announced in Manhattan at a special signing ceremony for the bill: “After a 13-year ordeal and after decades of personal pain for so many, I hope you can find a slight sense of peace and a slight sense of vindication that you did not endure this pain without reason.”

What does the new law do?

The 2019 Child Victims Act changes the state’s strict statute of limitations on sexual crimes against children. It opens up a one-year window to revive past claims of any age.

The new law:

  • extends New York’s statute of limitations to allow for criminal charges against child sex abusers until their victims turn 28 for felony cases, up from the current 23.
  • allows victims to seek civil action against their abusers and institutions that enabled them until they turn 55.
  • opens up a one-year, one-time-only period to allow all victims to seek civil action, regardless of how long ago the abuse occurred.

Who Can File for the Child Victims Act?

A survivor of sexual abuse may be able to bring a claim against the abuser or entity responsible for facilitating the abuse if:

  • The abuse began prior to the victim’s 18th birthday.
  • The abuse took place in New York State.
  • The victim suffers from physical, psychological or other injuries; or
  • The victim previously filed a claim that was dismissed based on the (previously) expired statute of limitations (SOL).

Childhood sexual abuse survivors of any age may be able to bring a claim until August 14, 2020.

After August 14, 2020, sexual abuse survivors may only be able to bring a claim until age 55.

Why the Law Change Now?

The new law came into being after citizens and lawmakers in several states responded to the shocking Pennsylvania grand jury report last summer which revealed that more than 300 Catholic priests had abused more than 1,000 school-aged children over several decades. The Pennsylvania report opened the eyes of the country to the ongoing problem of child sex abuse.  The report showed that the abuse was aided and abetted by churches that hid the monstrous crimes while often coddling the criminals and shielding them from prosecution.

Amid the Penn scandal and others involving the church, a full-throated outcry from advocates and some lawmakers said victims should have further recourse against those who either committed the crimes or failed to face the problem.

Mr. Cuomo noted that Pope Francis said the church should not protect abusive priests.

“The priests should be punished,” said Mr. Cuomo at the signing.  “Pope Francis said these people should have access to the courts for legal resolution. (I) think the bishops have worked to protect the church. [T]hey compounded the problem by covering it up and not taking responsibility.”

Opposition to the New Law

In the state Capitol at Albany, the law faced fierce opposition from the church as well as from insurance companies fearing a flood of Priest abuse lawsuits.

Republicans controlled the NY state Senate for the past decade and blocked the measure, though it repeatedly passed the Democrat-led Assembly. Everything changed in November 2018 when Democrats won control of the Senate.

The state Catholic Conference dropped its opposition at the end of 2018 after it got the NY Legislature to back language stating that public institutions can also be sued during the one-year look-back period.

“We therefore remove our previous opposition and pray that survivors find the healing they so desperately deserve,” the Catholic Conference tweeted, though critics said church officials acquiesced only after they knew the new Democrat control of NY government meant the law could no longer be stopped from passage.

The Senate unanimously approved the bill on Jan. 28, and the Assembly passed it 142-3.

New NY Law helps Sex abuse Victims

The most serious felony sexual crimes against children already had no statute of limitations prior to the new law, though mid- and lower-level felonies had a five-year statute of limitations, which kicks in when the victim turns 18.

The statute of limitations will now be based on a person’s age, not the length of time since the allegations.

Clergy Abuse Lawsuits

With the look-back period now opened up, more lawyers and victims are planning to come forward with clergy abuse lawsuits.

The look-back period opens in summer 2019, and remains open for a year, beginning Aug. 14.

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Monsanto Manipulation Machine bared (or Bayered)

(June 4, 2019) The Monsanto manipulation machine has been bared (or shall we say, Bayered) by Carey Gilliam and several other journalists the company has attacked for questioning the safety of Monsanto’s products.  Internal company emails and documents reveal an elaborate campaign to attack independent journalists who have uncovered Monsanto’s endless campaigns to fool the public about the nature and safety of pesticides like Roundup and the company’s genetically-modified “food.” The document trail shows how Monsanto attacks some journalists and manipulates others. It all depends on whether those individuals report the truth of Roundup’s fraudulent acceptance by the EPA and the weed killer’s links to cancer, or whether they help Monsanto maintain its captured-regulatory cloak of legitimacy and the alleged indispensability of the company’s poison products.

Monsanto Misinformation Unmasked

Monsanto has been unmasked in the Roundup cancer litigation as a master purveyor of misinformation and propaganda.  Independent journalists such as Carey Gilliam and others have discovered that Monsanto has set up several entities it disguises as “objective” organizations comprised of professional “experts” or academic “scientists.” The company creates these cutouts to pose as purveyors of truth in a narrative they sell as a world gone mad with “lawyer-driven litigation.”

Roundup Lawsuits plague Monsanto

Roundup cancer lawsuits now plague Monsanto like its Roundup-generated super weeds plague more and more farm fields. More than 13,400 suits have been filed so far. The company’s response to its trouble is the same in the media as it is in the fields – to throw more poison at it. Or in the case of the Roundup information war, to spread ever-increasing amounts of vitriol.

And when that approach fails, as it has repeatedly in every Roundup cancer trial so far, Monsanto moves to just flat-out lie, to tell the people and the judges trying the cases that the science is proven, that hundreds of  legitimate, worthwhile studies show Roundup is safe, that all the world’s regulatory agencies agree that Roundup is safe and doesn’t cause cancer, with the outlier exception of the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

And then this company has the gall to again and again lean on the U.S. EPA’s failure to identify Roundup as a probable carcinogen. It leans on the EPA even when internal emails from key employees of that agency have been outed as all but colluding with Monsanto to stifle safety testing. And then add in the fact that the EPA first green-lighted Roundup on the basis of studies done by a company convicted of fraud for promoting phony studies. Monsanto has built a house of cards, and the wind is blowing toward Missouri.
Three Juries, Three Unanimous Verdicts against Monsanto

All of Monsanto’s propaganda may play well with the company’s friends in Washington D.C. and with the unawares public, but people who have seen real evidence have danced to a different tune than the off-key repetition of Monsanto’s Roundup defense. All three juries in the three Roundup-cancer trials so far have ruled unanimously that Monsanto’s best-selling weed killer Roundup causes cancer. Those juries have all done so despite a massive undertaking by Monsanto to attack  journalists and scientists who question Roundup’s safety profile, while leading and/or rewarding those who help defend the company.

Over the past year, evidence of Monsanto’s deceptive efforts to defend the safety of its top-selling Roundup herbicide has been bared for all to see. Through the three civil trials – one in federal and two in state courts –public release of Monsanto’s internal communications has revealed conduct that all three juries have found so unethical as to warrant large punitive damage awards.

Monsanto Ghostwriting, Regulator Collusion, Media Manipulation

Internal emails have shown how Monsanto scientists casually discuss ghostwriting scientific papers and suppressing any science that contradicts the company’s strident defense of Roundup. Internal documents have also revealed cozy relationships with regulators that suggest collusion.

These documents – which Monsanto fought hard to keep confidential – also give a taste of  Monsanto’s media deceptions, beyond the company’s now well-known policy of manipulating science and regulators. Carey Gilliam of U.S. Right to Know reports that the documents show Monsanto’s most insidious deceit yet may be its strategic manipulation of the media.

Monanto Consultant poses as Reporter

Ms. Gilliam writes, “We recently learned that a young woman falsely posing as a freelance BBC reporter at one of the Roundup cancer trials was in fact a ‘reputation management’ consultant for FTI Consulting, whose clients include Monsanto. The woman spent time with journalists who were covering the Hardeman v Monsanto trial in San Francisco, pretending to do reporting while also suggesting to the real reporters certain storylines or points that favored Monsanto.”

Monsanto publishes “Objective” Academics Review

Monsanto enlisted Reuters, a mainstream publication, to manufacture a story which attacked a member of the IARC which declared Roundup a probably carcinogen in 2015. According to Carey Gilliam, a Reuters reporter for 17 years, Monsanto used an organization called Academics Review to publish two scathing articles about Ms. Gilliam’s work at Reuters when she wrote about Monsanto’s GMO crops and Roundup. Monsanto complained that the reporter should not be including the views of Monsanto’s critics.  Academics Review trumpeted those complaints under the guise of being an independent association.

Internal Monsanto documents show Academics Review is the brainchild of Monsanto. It was designed to respond to “scientific concerns and allegations” while “keeping Monsanto in the background so as not to harm the credibility of the information,” as Ms.Gilliam noted that one November 2010 email from Monsanto executive Eric Sachs stated. According to a March 11, 2010 email chain, Academics Review was established with the help of a former director of corporate communications at Monsanto who set up his own public relations shop and a former vice president of a biotech industry trade association of which Monsanto was a member.

Monsanto’s American Council on Science and Health

Monsanto also likes to point to the American Council on Science and Health as an arbiter of Roundup evidence and all things GMO, but ACSH is anything but a disinterested party. Internal documents show Monsanto money and marching orders behind the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH). This entity absurdly claims to be independent of industry while it publishes articles attacking journalists and scientists whose work contradicts Monsanto’s agenda. And the crying shame is that sham articles written by Monsanto’s ACSH have appeared in USA Today, the Wall Street Journal and Forbes.

Ms. Gilliam writes:  “ACSH has published several articles aimed at discrediting not just me but also Pulitzer-prize-winning New York Times reporter Eric Lipton, who ACSH calls a “science birther”, and former New York Times reporter Stephanie Strom, who ACSH accused of “irresponsible journalism” shortly before she left the paper. Both reporters had written articles exposing concerns about Monsanto. The New York Times’ Danny Hakim has also been targeted by ACSH for writing about Monsanto. “Danny Hakim Is Lying To You,” reads one of several posts by ACSH about Hakim.”

Internal Monsanto emails show ACSH seeking and receiving financial commitments from Monsanto. One email string from 2015 between the company and ACSH details the “unrestricted” financial support ACSH desires while laying out the “impacts” across social media ACSH is achieving. “Each and every day we work hard to prove our worth to companies like Monsanto…” the ACSH email states. A separate email chain among Monsanto executives states “You WILL NOT GET A BETTER VALUE FOR YOUR DOLLAR than ACSH.”

Monsanto Manipulation Machine bared (or Bayered)

How legitimate are publications like USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, and Forbes when they are willing to not only conceal Monsanto’s ties to dummy organizations like ACSH, but also  to help promote the same myths Monsanto writes about itself in publications across the world?  Judges and juries are figuring this company out. If they can wade through the well-paid-for propaganda Monsanto continues to unleash in mainstream publications, the rest of the country will eventually figure it all out, too.

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Cell Phone caused Brain Tumor, says Italian Court

(May 29, 2019) Cell Phone Radiation Lawsuit Cell phone use caused a man’s brain tumor, said an Italian court in April 2017. The judge in the case ruled that a longtime Telecom Italia employee developed a brain tumor as a result of heavy cell phone use.  He ordered that Roberto Romero be awarded 6,000 to 7,000 euros per year, the US equivalent of $6,000 to $7,500.

Mr. Romero’s lawyer, Stefano Bertone, said one factor in the court’s decision was its refusal to accept into evidence studies which were funded by the telecom industry.

Mr. Romero used the company cell phone for three hours a day for 15 years without taking any precautions. He developed an ipsilateral tumor (on the side of the head glued to the phone) and lost his hearing in that ear. Though the tumor was non-cancerous, it required surgical removal.

The Telecom Italia employee sued the state social security agency rather than the company for which he still works. He believes cell phone users should adopt some safety measures. His lawyer, Mr. Bertone, said those measures could include reducing cell use and using anti-radiation ear buds.  (Editor’s note: Regular earbuds may not be protective. Defender Shield sells radiation-reducing ear buds.)

2012 Ruling helped 2017 Case

Mr. Bertone said he believed that a 2012 decision by Italy’s highest court helped pave the way for Mr. Romero’s ruling. The 2012 case saw Italian’s highest court award social security payments to a salesman who used his cell phone five or six hours a day before developing a brain tumor.  The trial court that first heard the salesman’s claim denied it, but Italy’s highest court then took it up and ruled that there was a link between the man’s heavy cell phone use and his tumor.

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Ohio State Doctor sexually abused male student athletes

(May 20, 2019) An Ohio State University doctor sexually abused more than 177 male student athletes in a 20-year reign of perversion which OSU stands accused of being aware of and failing to stop. Suicided sex abuser Richard Strauss worked as a doctor at Ohio State University for twenty years. Today, OSU is being sued by more than 50 former student athletes for the dead man’s alleged sex crimes.

20+ Years of Sex Abuse

For nearly two decades at Ohio State, Strauss sexually abused at least 177 male students, according to an exhaustive independent investigation commissioned by the university. Most of the sex abuse occurred under the guise of providing students medical treatment.

“Doctor” Strauss worked at OSU from September 1978 through March 1998, primarily with the Athletic Department and the Student Health Center. The investigation found that university personnel became aware of Strauss’ abuse as early as 1979.

However, the report reads, “[D]espite the persistence, seriousness, and regularity of such complaints, no meaningful action was taken by the University to investigate such concerns until January 1996,” when they were first elevated to officials beyond Student Health or the Athletics Department.

Strauss was finally suspended from working as a treating physician at OSU in 1996. The university finally removed from its departments, but to its crying shame still kept him on as a tenured faculty member.  The doctor voluntarily retired in 1998 with “emeritus” status from the university, and finally killed himself in 2005.

OSU President’s Apology

In a message emailed to the OSU community this year, university President Michael Drake wrote: “The findings are shocking and painful to comprehend.”

Mr. Drake, who became OSU’s president in 2014, added:  “On behalf of the university, we offer our profound regret and sincere apologies to each person who endured Strauss’ abuse. Our institution’s fundamental failure at the time to prevent this abuse was unacceptable, as were the inadequate efforts to thoroughly investigate complaints raised by students and staff members.”

Drake said OSU would “take additional action as appropriate,” and that the school has begun the process of revoking Strauss’ emeritus status.

A Strauss Survivor Speaks

A survivor of Struss’ abuse, Kent Kilgore, said in a statement to the AP: “Dreams were broken, relationships with loved ones were damaged, and the harm now carries over to our children as many of us have become so overprotective that it strains the relationship with our kids.”

OSU said it launched the independent investigation in April 2019 after a former student came forward with allegations of abuse and “indicated … there may have been others who experienced sexual misconduct by Strauss.”

The investigation carried out by the law firm Perkins Coie was led by a former federal prosecutor and a former federal government ethics attorney. Both had experience in investigations involving male sexual abuse survivors.

The law firm interviewed 520 people, among them the 177 men who said they had been abused by Strauss.

The report of 230+ pages contains a long list of former students telling painful stories of Strauss abusing them as they saw him for medical care. In many cases, as with members of the wrestling team, they had only Strauss to see, as he typically managed to have himself assigned as the sole medical shepherd for all-male teams.

At least 50 former OSU athletes have filed lawsuits against the university for allowing Strauss to prey for 20 years on young athletes, long after the first disturbing reports of his perversions began to surface. Given the sheer numbers of abuse reports and the rumors which swirled around Struss for years, it appears that OSU knew or should have known it had a serial sex predator on its hands, yet the university failed to protect the students in its charge.

Instances of Abuse

The report says Strauss’ abuse often involved “routinely touch (a student’s) genitals at every visit, regardless of the medical ailment presented, including for a sore throat.”

The report states that members of 15 university athletic teams were abused. Strauss’ most frequent target was wrestlers – 48 of them – according to the report, with the abuse often escalating over multiple visits.

Other student athletes said Strauss would frequently shower with teams. He appeared to loiter and stare at naked students in locker rooms, making many uncomfortable.

A former soccer player told investigators Strauss would sometimes run a single lap just as the team was finishing up practice. The report says, “The student noted that it was a commonly-held perception among the players that Strauss was exercising as a pretext to shower with the team, and the student-athletes would try to shower as quickly as possible.”

Dozens of OSU staff coaches or trainers told investigators they had been aware of rumors and complaints against Strauss. The abuse was so well known that some students thought it was simply accepted by other OSU staff.

OSU Doctor’s Perversions an Open Secret

The report states: “Many of the students felt that Strauss’ behavior was an ‘open secret,’ as it appeared to them that their coaches, trainers, and other team physicians were fully aware of Strauss’ activities, and yet few seemed inclined to do anything to stop it.”  Some students said they had the impression the well-known abuse was a form of hazing or a rite of passage.

The university took disciplinary action against Strauss only after a series of student complaints in the mid-1990s. But even after that belated action, he was allowed to open an off-campus private men’s health clinic near the university. He continued to abuse patients there while keeping his title as a tenured faculty professor.

Ohio State Doctor sexually abused male student athletes

Gabe Rosenberg and Adora Namigadde of WOSU reported: “At least 50 students have filed lawsuits against Ohio State, arguing the university knew about and declined to act in response to complaints about Strauss. Their case is headed to mediation.”

Brian Garrett, one of the lead plaintiffs, said in an interview last week: “It’s what we’ve been saying. They’ve failed to act, investigate or act, and now we have validation.”

WOSU said OSU has referred the report to Columbus Police, the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office, and the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

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NJ eases limit on Sex Abuse Lawsuits

(May 16, 2019) New Jersey passed a bill to ease the limit on filing sex abuse lawsuits. Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation May 13 to ease time limit restrictions on when childhood sexual abuse victims can seek damages in civil court. The bill takes effect on December 1, 2019.  It will “revive any action that was previously dismissed on grounds that the applicable statute of limitations had expired for a period of two years following the effective date.”

The bill means means a sex abuse victim now has from 12/1/19 until 12/1/2021 to file a case which was previously time barred.

Related:  NJ.com: Bill extends sex abuse limitations statute

This change to the law comes after a wave of details last year revealed the abuse of minors in the Roman Catholic Church.

The New Jersey governor said in a statement that he recognized opponents’ worries that the expanded statute will expose organizations to financial liability. However, he said that fear is outweighed by concern for sex abuse victims.

“I cannot deny victims the ability to seek redress in court for sexual abuse that often leaves trauma lasting a lifetime,” Governor Murphy said in a statement as he signed the new bill.

Victims now have until Age 55 to Pursue Litigation

The legislation allows child victims to sue until they reach age 55, or else within seven years of their first realization that the abuse caused them harm. The current statute of limitations protects only those up to age 20, or else two years after they first realized the abuse caused them harm.

The NJ bill also gives a two-year window to victims previously barred by the statute of limitations.  It also allows victims to seek damages from institutions.

New Jersey’s Catholic Conference opposed the bill during committee hearings. In a May 13 statement, the Archdiocese of Newark said it was committed to “comprehensive healing of those harmed.”

“(The) Catholic community, the legislature, and the Governor sincerely agree on one key position – the need to restore justice for the victims of sexual abuse in New Jersey,” said archdiocese spokeswoman Maria Margiotta.

Supporters of the new law gathered later Monday for a news conference that turned emotional.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg teared up while thanking survivors who had previously testified in support of the bill.  She said the stories were “so painful and so graphic. Thank God we’re standing here today.”

Churches, BSA, Others Liable

While the Catholic Church has been a focal point of debate on the legislation, it would also make other institutions, like the Boy Scouts – liable. Attorneys in New Jersey and elsewhere have begun recruiting people to sue the BSA, which says it now has policies in place to curtail abuse.

Many states have revisited their criminal and civil statutes of limitations since the 2002 Boston Globe reporting detailing abuse in the Catholic Church. (Dramatized in the 2017 film Spotlight.)  But only a handful of states – including California, Delaware, Hawaii, and Minnesota – have created new windows for abuse victims to file lawsuits. New York enacted a bill earlier this year that creates a window similar to the one in New Jersey, a state which already has no statute of limitations on criminal charges.

188 New Jersey Priests Credibly Accused

New Jersey legislatures have discussed the law change for nearly a decade.  It finally comes soon after the state’s five Catholic dioceses released the names of 188 priests credibly accused of sexually abusing minors over several decades. It also comes after they announced in February 2019 the creation of a compensation fund for victims.

New Jersey’s attorney general launched a task force in September 2018 to investigate the clergy abuse scandal. That task force came after a long grand jury investigation in Pennsylvania found that more than 300 priests had abused more than 1,000 children over several decades.

The bill had broad support from lawmakers and victims’ advocacy groups. The committee hearings on the bill featured hours of emotional testimony from abuse survivors.

Among those opposed to the measure were the state Catholic Conference and the New Jersey Civil Justice Institute.

Patrick Brannigan, the conference’s executive director, told lawmakers that the New Jersey church is fully cooperating with state law enforcement officials who are investigating abuse claims in the state.

He said that the church “sincerely regrets that some in the church failed to protect children.”

Mr. Brannigan also said the church agrees with the intent of the bill but differs on its approach, asking instead that the bill’s take-effect date of Dec. 1, 2019 be made for a later date.

Gov. Murphy also said that lawmakers have committed to send him a new bill correcting an error in the new law. Specifically, he said, part of the law fails to establish a standard of proof for cases against public entities.

Failing to hold them to the same standard as other institutions would be “unjustified,” said Gov. Murphy, and the new legislation would hold public entities to the same standard as other organizations.

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Monsanto loses $2B Verdict in Third Roundup Trial

Married Couple both have Lymphoma

(May 13, 2019) Monsanto lost the third Roundup trial in dramatic fashion today when a California jury found that the company’s Roundup likely caused a married couple to both develop a similar cancer. The jury awarded the two $2.055 billion in damages. It was Monsanto’s third straight loss in three trials. Some 13,400 Roundup cancer lawsuits are still pending against Monsanto. All the cases allege that Roundup causes cancer.

The jury of five women and seven men deliberated for nearly two days before finding that Roundup was a significant contributing factor in causing Alva and Alberta Pilliod to develop a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The jury awarded the pair $55 million in non-economic and economic damages, then hit Monsanto with $1 billion in punitive damages for each person.

Punitive Damages

In ordering punitive damages, the jury had to find that Monsanto “engaged in conduct with malice, oppression or fraud committed by one or more officers, directors or managing agents of Monsanto” acting on behalf of Monsanto.  The total of $2.055 billion doubled what the plaintiffs’ attorney suggested in his closing arguments.

During the five-week trial, the Pilliods’ claimed that decades of spraying Roundup on their four properties gave them both diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.  Alva Pilliod was diagnosed with DLBCL in 2011. His wife Alberta was diagnosed in 2015 with a type of DLBCL called primary central nervous system lymphoma.

The jury heard testimony from competing oncologists, pathologists and toxicologists from each side. Different experts gave different opinions over Roundup’s skin absorption rates and the science regarding claims that Roundup causes cancer.

The Pilliods’ experts pointed to animal studies, mechanistic data and epidemiological data that showed glyphosate is genotoxic, or DNA damaging. They offered evidence that Roundup causes oxidative stress which can cause cancer mutations. They also cited the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s 2015 finding that glyphosate is a probable carcinogen.

Glyphosate vs. Roundup
The Pilliods’ expert toxicologist, Dr. William Sawyer, testified that Monsanto made glyphosate 50 times more toxic by selling its Roundup formula with polyethoxylated tallow amine – or POEA –a surfactant banned in Europe. Dr. Sawyer explained that the surfactants allow glyphosate to easily penetrate the skin, just as they are designed to penetrate plants.

Dr. Sawyer said the body stores POEA under the skin for days and delivers glyphosate doses to the bones, where lymphoma starts. He also accused Monsanto of manipulating its absorption studies by heating and then freezing skin samples before testing them, a process which leads to skewed results.

US EPA used Fraudulent Data
Other experts called by the Pilliods testified that the U.S EPA approved Roundup in the 1970s using fraudulent studies. Industrial Bio-Test Laboratories, which was convicted of fraud, performed the studies later proved to be fraudulent, but EPA allowed the ruse to continue anyway. They said Monsanto kept selling Roundup even after the fraud was exposed, and refused for decades to conduct certain studies of its own Roundup formula, despite requests from the EPA and its own toxicologist.

The Pilliods’ counsel also argued in closing that Monsanto spent decades suppressing science linking its products to cancer by ghostwriting academic articles and feeding the EPA “bad science.”  He asked the jury to “punish” Monsanto with a $1 billion punitive damages award.

Carey Gilliam of U.S. Right To Know reported that the trial showed:

* Monsanto never conducted epidemiology studies for Roundup and its other formulations made with glyphosate to evaluate users’ cancer risks.

* Monsanto was aware surfactants in Roundup were much more toxic than glyphosate alone.

* Monsanto spent millions of dollars on covert public relations campaigns to finance ghostwritten studies and articles aimed at discrediting independent scientists whose work found dangers with Monsanto’s herbicides.

* When the US Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry sought to evaluate glyphosate toxicity in 2015, Monsanto engaged the assistance of EPA officials to delay that review.

* Monsanto enjoyed a close relationship with certain EPA officials who repeatedly backed Monsanto’s assertions about glyphosate’s alleged safety.

* Monsanto’s worker safety recommendations called for wearing a load of protective gear when using glyphosate but did not warn the public to do the same.

Monsanto Rebuttal

Monsanto’s experts argued that the epidemiological data put forward by the decades-long Agricultural Health Study shows that glyphosate doesn’t pose a cancer risk. Monsanto lawyers argued that several regulatory agencies around the world, including the US EPA, Health Canada, and the Australian government have repeatedly concluded Roundup doesn’t pose a cancer risk. They also noted that the rate of non-Hodgkin lymphoma has plateaued over the past two decades, while Roundup use has increased. They argued that if the plaintiffs’ side were correct in alleging that Roundup caused the Pilliods’ cancer, NHL rates should coincide with the rise in Roundup’s ubiquitous blanketing of the earth.

Monsanto loses $2B Verdict in Third Roundup Trial

The California jury found Monsanto liable for failure to warn claims, design defect claims, negligence claims, and negligent failure to warn claims. They awarded the Pilliods’ $52 million in non-economic damages and $3.2 million in economic damages, along with a combined $2 billion in punitive damages.

The Pilliods’ trial began March 28, one day after a separate California federal jury ordered Monsanto to pay a California man $80 million after it agreed that Roundup exposure caused him to develop NHL. The first Roundup cancer trial concluded in August 2018 when a San Francisco jury in state court awarded a former school groundskeeper $289 million verdict that was later reduced – over the jury’s repeated objections – to $78 million. Monsanto has also appealed that reduced award.

The case is Pilliod v. Monsanto Co., case number RG17862702, in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Alameda.

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