Third Roundup Case Jury told to punish Monsanto with $1B Verdict

(May 9, 2019)  The thirdB Verdict"> jury to hear a Roundup case this year was told by the plaintiffs’ attorney yesterday to punish Monsanto with a $1 billion verdict.  In the five-week-long trial which wrapped yesterday after closing arguments, an attorney for Alva and Alberta Pilliod told the jury that Monsanto needed to be punished for misleading the couple and the world about the dangers of Roundup. Both Alva and Alberta Pilliod developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after decades of using Monsanto’s Roundup. Their attorney said Roundup caused them to develop NHL; Monsanto’s attorneys argued that it had not.

The Pilliods’ attorney told the jury they should find that Monsanto failed to warn his clients of Roundup’s cancer risks, and award them $1 billion in punitive damages and $55 million in combined economic and noneconomic damages. He said that if the Pilliods had known Roundup could cause cancer, they would have never touched it.  He argued that the jury needs to send Monsanto a message.

The Pilliods’ case is the third to go to trial out of 13,400 lawsuits pending that allege Roundup causes cancer. Their trial began March 28, a day after a separate California federal jury handed down an $80 million verdict against Monsanto in favor of Ed Hardeman.

The first trial concluded in August 2019 when a state jury in San Francisco awarded former school groundskeeper DeWayne “Lee” Johnson a $289 million verdict against Monsanto.  A state judge later slashed the verdict to $78 million, despite multiple pleas from the jurors to leave their full award in place.  Monsanto has also appealed that entire verdict

On May 8, closing arguments in the Pilliods’ trial drew a crowd of people into the small state courtroom, including DeWayne Johnson, Bobby Kennedy, Jr., Oliver Stone, and a juror from Mr. Johnson’s trial.

Roundup Born in Fraud
In the Pilliods’ closing argument, their attorney Brent Wisner described decades of Monsanto executives’ attempts to cover up or suppress science that linked Roundup to cancer. He said the weedkiller was “born in fraud,” because the U.S. EPA approved it in 1974 based on fraudulent studies conducted by Industrial Bio-Test Laboratories.  The EPA discovered the lab’s fraudulent work in 1976, but Monsanto was nevertheless allowed to keep Roundup on the market. Monsanto also repeatedly refused to conduct certain cancer studies in the 1980s and 1990s even after the EPA and its own toxicologist told Monsanto it needed to conduct those tests.

Monsanto spent years, meanwhile, trying to manipulate the scientific literature by ghostwriting academic articles while also feeding the EPA those same articles and others based on “bad science,” according to Mr. Wisner.

The Pilliods’ attorney said Monsanto executives also adopted a corporate strategy to combat the finding of the International Agency for Research on Cancer on Roundup’s active ingredient, glyphosate. The IARC concluded that glyphosate is a probable carcinogen in 2015, and Mr. Wisner reminded the jury that they had seen evidence of how Monsanto was moving to discredit the IARC even before the scientists had issued their finding.

US EPA captured by Industry
Mr. Wisner said Monsanto’s “bad science” included the fraudulent Industrial Bio-Test studies as well as the ghostwritten studies that “permeate” scientific literature today. He said the EPA is still citing those studies in its findings because the government has been captured by the industry. He also argued that Monsanto continued to sell Roundup with polyethoxylated tallow amine (POEA), a surfactant that makes glyphosate 50 times more toxic than glyphosate alone and is banned in Europe.

Roundup/Glyphosate and Lymphoma
Meanwhile, said Mr. Wisner, Monsanto refused to conduct cancer tests on Roundup and ignored studies showing it is easily absorbed through the skin, stored, then transported to the bones where lymphoma develops.

Mr. Wisner also argued that not one of Monsanto’s experts in this trial was an expert on chemicals that cause cancer.  He said they focused only on epidemiological data, and ignored animal studies and mechanistic data showing Roundup’s cancer links.

Monsanto Rebuttal – A Lawyer’s Charade

Monsanto’s attorney said during closing that the Pilliods shouldn’t be awarded anything. He said Mr. Wisner had performed a “charade” in a “rehearsed routine” in front of the jury with the plaintiffs’ toxicologist Dr. William Sawyer. He said Dr. Sawyer is a seasoned expert who has testified in 300 cases.  The Monsanto attorney said that during Dr. Sawyer’s testimony, Mr. Wisner and Dr. Sawyer planned an exchange in which the expert warned the lawyer to wear gloves when he picked up an open Roundup bottle, even though they both knew it contained only water. Monsanto’s attorney said the stunt was meant to mislead the jury about Roundup’s danger. He said the men disrespected the jury’s intelligence and the justice system.

Monsanto’s attorney also argued that Mr. Wisner and the Pilliods’ experts gave “wildly misleading” Roundup exposure estimates throughout the trial. He said Roundup doses given mice in cancer studies were 2 million times more Roundup than what the Pilliods had been exposed to.

In reality, argued Monsanto’s attorney, the couple both had years of health issues and a lengthy smoking history that together weakened their immune systems and put them at a higher risk of developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma. He noted that Alva Pilliod had 22 instances of skin cancer since the 1970s, five brain infections from the herpes virus, and genital warts. He said Alberta Pilliod had Hoshimoto’s disease and bladder cancer.

Monsanto’s lawyer argued that Roundup is safe to use. He said multiple regulatory agencies around the world, including Health Canada, the U.S. EPA and the Australian government have repeatedly concluded that Roundup doesn’t pose a cancer risk. He said the Pilliods are asking the jury to “throw out” 40 years of EPA findings.

The Monsanto attorney also said the Pilliods’ case doesn’t meet the heightened burden of proof to warrant a punitive damages award. He admitted that some of the language in Monsanto’s internal emails “probably” didn’t use the right phrases, but said the Pilliods’ attorneys were “cherry-picking” phrases from hundreds of Monsanto’s internal emails to make the company look bad.  He also defended the ghostwritten scientific articles by saying they don’t address the issues at hand.

Mr. Wisner attempted to counter the Monsanto accusations that he had played a charade with Sawyer to manipulate the jury, but the judge stopped him, saying, “knock it off.”

After the Pilliods’ closings, Monsanto’s counsel asked the court to declare a mistrial, arguing that Wisner had made multiple arguments that were off-limits. But Alameda Superior Judge Winifred Smith denied the motion and refused Monsanto’s request to give a curative jury instruction.

The jury began its deliberations this morning.

Third Roundup Case Jury told to punish Monsanto with $1B Verdict
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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Several states may ban pesticide linked to lower IQ, ADHD

(May 2, 2019) Several states are trying to ban a pesticide – chlorpyrifos – that some US EPA executives are fighting to keep on the market, despite the fact that the EPA’s own scientists have called for its banning. Kaiser Health News reported last week that lawmakers in several states are trying to ban a widely used pesticide that the Environmental Protection Agency inexplicably supports.

Chlorpyrifos

A  pesticide derived from nerve gas used in WWI, chlorpyrifos kills insects by attacking their nervous systems.  It also causes a host of problems for human beings, especially young children, pregnant women, people working in fields or living in areas sprayed with the poison, or anyone eating the pesticide-contaminated fruits and vegetables. Many, if not most, non-organic fruits and vegetables are sprayed with this poison.

Kaiser Health News reported last week that several studies have linked prenatal exposure of chlorpyrifos to lower birth weights, lower IQs, ADHD, and other developmental problems, including autism spectrum disorder. Nevertheless, in 2017, top EPA officials closely aligned with pesticide industry lobbyists ignored the conclusions of the EPA’s own scientists. The compromised EPA officials rejected a proposal made during the Obama administration to ban chlorpyrifos in fields and orchards.

States Move where EPA Fails

Consequently, some states have been forced to take matters into their own hands. Hawaii was the first to act, banning chlorpyrifos last year.  California, Oregon, New York, and Connecticut are now trying to do the same thing.

If California, the country’s largest agricultural state, is successful at banning the poison, many other states could follow suit, according to Virginia Ruiz, director of occupational and environmental health at the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization, Farmworker Justice.

In light of the EPA’s inaction on the matter, which has continued for at least a decade, Congressional Democrats introduced bills earlier this year to ban chlorpyrifos nationally.  But  given typical beltway acrimony and political prostitution arranged with millions of dollars in lobbying money from pesticide makers, states may have a much better chance at succeeding than Congress.

Presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y) introduced a separate bill last week that would prohibit schools from serving fruits and vegetables sprayed with chlorpyrifos.

Three Dozen Studies show Chlorpyrifos Dangers

“I don’t see this as something we should still be debating,” said Irva Hertz-Picciotto, an epidemiologist and director of the Environmental Health Sciences Center at the University of California-Davis. Ms. Hertz-Picciotto testified during a California Senate Health Committee hearing April 10 on California’s bill to ban chlorpyrifos. She said more than three dozen studies have demonstrated a connection between prenatal exposure of chlorpyrifos and developmental disabilities, including symptoms of autism.

“No study has identified a level at which we can consider it safe,” she told lawmakers. And therein lies the EPA problem with breaking its own rules, which state that it cannot green light a pesticide which has not been shown to be safe.  With chlorpyrifos, the opposite applies.

In 2000, the EPA, which is charged with regulating pesticides at the federal level, ordered chlorpyrifos for residential use off the market. But the poison is still used liberally on many crops that include citrus fruits, grapes, and almonds. It’s also sprayed on golf courses and in other non-agricultural settings.

In 2015 under the Obama administration, the EPA proposed a complete ban of chlorpyrifos, citing evidence of health risks.  But in 2017, President Trump’s EPA administrator, the disgraced industry apologist and partner Scott Pruitt, refused to ban it.

“Despite several years of study, the science addressing neurodevelopmental effects remains unresolved,” the EPA says on its website. The agency did not return requests for comment. But the EPA rules are clear that this pesticide should be pulled entirely, that it should have been pulled 20 years ago when the agency banned it for home use.

US Court Orders Chlorpyrifos Off Market

Last summer, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered chlorpyrifos completely off the market, but the EPA is now fighting that decision.

EPA Averse to its own Science & Scientists?

“The EPA is contradicting the findings of its own scientists,” declared Aseem Prakash, the director of the Center for Environmental Politics at the University of Washington. Mr. Prakash accused the EPA of serving the interests of the chemical industry over people’s health.

“It’s bizarre,” he said. “We have the research.”

Lorsban, Dursban from Dow AgroSciences

Several companies make chlorpyrifos products. The most recognized brand names in the US are Dursban and Lorsban, made by Corteva Agriscience, formerly known as Dow AgroSciences.

Pesticide Makers Respond

Industry “experts” paid by pesticide makers tell a different story. A former Dow Chemical Company employee Carol Burns, who now works as an epidemiologist for Corteva Agriscience, which profits from chlorpyrifos, argued that during the California Senate hearing that many studies link neurodevelopmental problems in children with the chemical compounds known as organophosphates.  However, she said, they don’t link with chlorpyrifos specifically.

Ms. Burns claimed the science is not as clear cut as the EPA scientists and others have said that it is.

“Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate, but not all organophosphates are chlorpyrifos,” said Ms. Burns.  She added that some of those studies focused on children born in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Since then, children face less exposure to the chemical as a result of increasing restrictions on its use.

Chlorpyrifos, Chlorpyrifos Everywhere

Like Monsanto’s cancerous glyphosate, chlorpyrifos goes everywhere.  It can be inhaled during application.  It can drift into nearby areas.  It can be ingested as residue on food. It can also run off and fields and contaminate drinking water.

Brief exposure can result in dizziness, nausea and headaches, while more acute poisoning can cause vomiting, tremors and loss of coordination, according to the National Pesticide Information Center.

But the most harmful exposure appears to be long-term exposure, even at low levels, for young, developing brains. A 2014 study by Hertz-Picciotto and other UC-Davis researchers found that pregnant women who lived near fields treated with chlorpyrifos, primarily during their second trimester, had an elevated risk of giving birth to a child with autism spectrum disorder.

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Monsanto faces Punitive Damages in Third Roundup Cancer Trial

(April 26, 2019) Monsanto faces punitive damages in the third Roundup cancer trial, unless a California judge in the case changes her mind.  The judge said yesterday that she will likely allow jurors to consider punitive damages if they find that using Monsanto’s Roundup caused both a husband and wife to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. If this jury does find Roundup caused the couple’s lymphoma, they will be the third jury in three trials to find Roundup causes cancer and that Monsanto knew or should have known it does.

The question of punitive damages would not have arisen at this stage of the trial – which began on March 28 and is not yet complete – except for the fact that Monsanto’s attorneys motioned to have punitive damages excluded from this trial. Monsanto’s attorneys’ aggressive move to make this motion appears to be ill advised. Its end result is to invite this and similar stories to be written, all of which further shed light on Monsanto Propaganda vs. the Truth of Roundup’s Carcinogenicity. It also sheds light on the recent litigation history of Monsanto’s repeated failures to buffet Roundup’s safety profile.

Monsanto Roundup Lawsuit Update:  13,400 Cases

Bayer AG’s CEO on Friday, April 26, said Monsanto faces 13,400 lawsuits over Roundup. He made the announcement to shareholders while defending Bayer’s $63 billion acquisition of Monsanto in 2018.

Monsanto Vile, Despicable, Malicious?

Bayer AG, which acquired Monsanto for $63 billion last year, alleged that no evidence exists to show Monsanto’s conduct was malicious, a prerequisite for punitive damages. A Monsanto attorney called the notion that Monsanto knew of Roundup’s cancer risks in the 1980s “completely speculative.” He also said a defendant’s conduct in such a case must be “vile and despicable.”

Those adjectives do present a pretty high bar (or rather a low one, in this instance) for a judge’s granting of punitive damages.

The Monsanto attorney said, “There is absolutely no evidence that its conduct rises to that level,” he said.

The plaintiffs’ attorney, however, noted that both juries in the previous two Roundup trials awarded punitive damages over claims that Roundup causes cancer and Monsanto knew that it did, yet failed to warn Roundup users.  In this trial, he said there is “considerably more evidence” Monsanto’s conduct was malicious.  In this trial, evidence has come in which includes Monsanto’s ghostwriting of academic articles in scientific journals which misled the scientific community about Roundup’s safety profile.

Judge Winifred Smith

Alameda Superior Judge Winifred Smith said her tentative ruling was to likely deny Monsanto’s motion to strike punitive damages.  She did say, however, that she would read all the briefs before deciding.

The arguments over punitive damages came during a hearing on jury instructions, the verdict form, and the Monsanto motion to strike punitive damages.

Husband and Wife both have cancer

Plaintiffs Alva (76) and Alberta Pilliod (74) brought the Roundup lawsuit after they were both exposed to decades of spraying Roundup on their four properties.  They both now suffer from aggressive non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer. The Pilliods rested their case-in-chief on April 23. Monsanto/Bayer will call their first witnesses Monday.

Monsanto’s lawyer claimed yesterday that the few small studies that suggested Roundup’s active ingredient, glyphosate, might be carcinogenic weren’t published until the 1990s. He argued no other evidence showed glyphosate could cause cancer. He claimed the first real evidence didn’t surface until the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) concluded glyphosate is a probable carcinogen in 2015. He said, therefore, that Monsanto couldn’t have been reasonably expected to warn consumers about Roundup’s potential risks.  He claimed Monsanto didn’t warn people because the company didn’t think it was dangerous and “no one else did.”

Monsanto’s main trial attorney further claimed “the science had not evolved to (reach) the conclusion (Roundup) causes non-Hodgkin lymphoma. At most, it’s a probable carcinogen,” he said.

The plaintiffs’ attorney said, however, that evidence shows Monsanto repeatedly refused to conduct certain cancer studies on Roundup since 1983.  He said Monsanto refused to change its Roundup formula to replace the ingredient polyethoxylated tallow amine, which has been banned in Europe and allegedly makes glyphosate 50 times more toxic.

Monsanto also didn’t warn consumers to take extra safety precautions when using the product, said the plaintiffs’ trial attorney. Instead, Monsanto continued to advertise Roundup with advertising that showed people spraying the product without gloves, while wearing t-shirts and shorts.

Monsanto’s conduct recklessly put people’s lives in danger, said the plaintiffs’ attorney.  That conduct constitutes malice under the law.  He added that there wouldn’t be any lawsuits if the court accepted Bayer’s argument that no one knew about glyphosate’s cancer link in the 1980s. He said what Monsanto knew about glyphosate’s cancer risks and when are being revealed through litigation.  He compared the process to the Tobacco cancer litigation in the 1990s.

Besides the punitive damages arguments, the parties also argued over whether the jury should be instructed using the “but for” causation standard — meaning, a harm would not have happened if not for a party’s actions — or the less-demanding “concurrent causation” standard that can hold more than one party liable for causing a disease.

Monsanto’s counsel claimed the court should use the but-for standard, because the Pilliods’ experts refused to concede that there could have been other contributing factors that caused the Pilliods’ cancer. However, the Pilliods’ lawyer argued that the tougher standard wasn’t warranted and that the other trials used the concurrent causation standard.

Judge Smith said she would examine the case law before deciding the issue. She also said the verdict form should ask the jury to make separate findings for Alva and Alberta Pilliod.

“I think it’s important that [the jury] understand these are two separate cases being decided together,” she said.

11,200 Roundup Lawsuits
The Pilliod trial is the third case to go to trial out of approximately 11,200 lawsuits pending that allege Roundup causes cancer.

1. The first trial against Monsanto over Roundup’s links to cancer was held last summer in state court in San Francisco. That jury reached a $289 million verdict against Monsanto, including $250 million in punitives. A total later cut to $78 million. Bayer filed its opening brief appealing that judgment in state appeals court April 23.

2. The second Roundup cancer trial was Ed Hardeman v. Monsanto. It ended last month in federal court with an $80 million verdict which included $75 million in punitive damages. Bayer, of course, said it would appeal the verdict. 

More of Bayer/Monsanto’s Dirty Pool

The Pilliod’s attorney told the judge yesterday that Bayer/Monsanto released the names and contact information of the jurors in the first Monsanto Roundup trial.  He asked the judge to prohibit Monsanto from releasing the names and contact information of the jury in this case. The Monsanto attorney told the judge Monsanto wouldn’t release the names of the jurors in this case.

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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* Monsanto loses $289 Million Verdict

* California Winephosate

* Monsanto earns Monsatan Moniker

* Monsanto faces Punitive Damages in Third Roundup Cancer Trial

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NYC Leaders Move to ban Roundup

(April 22, 2019) NYC leaders have moved to ban Roundup (with glyphosate) in city parks.  Two councilmen are working to stop the city park system from using the carcinogenic weed killer which raises the risk of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. They’ve introduced legislation that would ban city agencies from spraying glyphosate-based weed killers and other pesticides in parks and other public spaces.

Environmental Health News reports that the NYC council action is the latest in a series that shows a growing concern over pesticide use, particularly the products made by Monsanto. It is another indication of a groundswell of people, homeowners, educators, farmers, business leaders and others who are rejecting Monsanto – and now Bayer – assurances that glyphosate-based pesticides are safe.

Growing Movement to Ban Glyphosate

Cities, school districts, and suppliers across the US are increasingly halting use of Monsanto pesticide products. Residents in Leesburg, Virginia called on the town’s officials last week to stop using glyphosate along area stream banks, and local school children also petitioned for a ban.

Since the World Health Organization declared glyphosate, the main listed active ingredient in Roundup and other Monsanto concoctions, a probable carcinogen, Monsanto has lost every jury verdict over its best-selling poison.  In the last year it has been ordered to pay Roundup non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma victims $289 million (later reduced to $78 million) and $80 million, with a third Roundup trial now in progress in California.

Discovery in the lawsuits against Monsanto has uncovered a trove of internal Monsanto emails in which company executives discuss ghostwriting articles for academics like disgraced corporate apologist Henry I. Miller and others.  The Monsanto Papers have shown how hard the company has worked and how much money it has spent, to spin all studies over Roundup in its favor, regardless of the toxicity and the links to cancer that many studies not sponsored by Monsanto have found.

Trial evidence has also shown Monsanto worked closely with the Environmental Protection Agency to block a toxicity review of glyphosate by a separate government agency. See Monsanto EPA Collusion?

Monsanto Defense

Monsanto has claimed in all of the trials, and in full page propaganda missives published in the New York Times and elsewhere, that hundreds of studies and decades of Roundup use have proven it safe. Monsanto has also been accused by plaintiffs’ attorneys of “geofencing,” specifically targeting San Francisco juries’ zip codes in social media ads and notices, as well as peppering them with pro-glyphosate propaganda in local newspapers.  Court testimony has shown that virtually all of Monsanto’s studies were too short term to be relevant, or were skewed in their design for one reason or another, always erring on the side of exonerating glyphosate and Monsanto. The company also spent millions — trial evidence has shown — trying to marginalize and discredit the WHO after it determined in 20015 that glyphosate is a probable carcinogen.

Many corporations have also been paying attention to the trials and their results.

Retail giant Costco has stopped selling Roundup. A Florida-based golf and landscaping supply store called Harrel’s stopped offering Monsanto’s Roundup on March 1 this year. CEO Jack Harrell, Jr. said the company’s insurance supplier will no longer insure it.  In addition, Pike Nurseries, a large independent company, said it would no longer stock Roundup due to declining sales.

More than 11,000 cancer victims are suing Monsanto, alleging exposure to Roundup and other glyphosate products the company sells caused them to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Longtime Monsanto researcher Carey Gilliam of US Right To Know, reported that Susquehanna Financial Group analyst Tom Claps has warned shareholders to brace for a global settlement of between $2.5 billion and $4.5 billion. “It’s not a matter of ‘if’ Bayer will reach a global Roundup settlement,” Claps told investors in a recent report. “It is a matter of ‘when.”

Monsanto MDL Judge Orders Mediation

U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria has ordered Bayer to enter into mediation, to discuss just such a potential settlement of the Roundup litigation. He put the next Monsanto trial in his court on hold to give mediation a chance to work for a settlement.

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Monsanto loses Third Pesticide Case

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

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

Monsanto Appeal

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

Monsanto Lassoes Plaintiff’s Health

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

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

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

Monsanto’s Legal Harassment

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

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

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

Injured by Banned Monsanto Product

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

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

Monsanto Failed to Warn Farmer

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

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

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

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

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

Monsanto faces Thousands of Lawsuits

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

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Conroe, Texas Priest named in Sex Abuse Lawsuit

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

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

J.R. vs. Sacret Heart Catholic Church

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

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

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

Father Manuel LaRosa-Lopez

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

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

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

Boy Abused during Confession

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

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

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

Statute of Limitations

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

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

Texas Priest named in Sex Abuse Lawsuit

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

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Deadly Crosby Plant Explosion

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

James Earl Mangum “Bubba”

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

Isobutylene Danger

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Monsanto loses second Roundup Trial – $80 Million Verdict

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

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

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

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

Controversial Two-part Trial Format

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

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

Monsanto Rebuttal

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

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

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

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

Monsanto loses second Roundup Trial 

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

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Houston Law Firm investigating Injuries from Ship Channel Fire

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

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

International Terminals Company at Ground Zero

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

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

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

Nausea, headaches, Other Symptoms

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

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

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

Resident:  “The trust is not there.”

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

Benzene Alert

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

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

U.S. Chemical Safety Board Investigation

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

The Houston Ship Channel

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

Lawsuit over Clean Air Violations

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

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Monsanto spends Millions to promote Pesticides, GMO Lies

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

11,000 Lawsuits

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

The Monsanto Propaganda Money Trail

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

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

Center for Food Integrity / Monsanto Partnership

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

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

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

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

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

Monsanto “Industry partner” attacks IARC Cancer Panel

Ms. Malkan wrote:

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

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

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

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

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

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