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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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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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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