The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Judge: Groundskeeper Failed to Show Monsanto Acted with ‘Malice’ in Landmark Case
A California judge opened the door Wednesday to a do-over of the landmark trial that awarded California groundskeeper DeWayne Johnson $289 million in damages from agri-chemical giant Monsanto after he claimed constant use of the company's Roundup weed-killer caused his cancer.
San Francisco Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bolanos issued a tentative ruling ordering a new trial, arguing that Johnson did not present "clear and convincing evidence of malice or oppression" on the part of Monsanto, The Associated Press reported.
The jury had awarded Johnson $39 million in compensatory damages and $250 million in punitive damages. It is the second award, based on the assumption that Monsanto deliberately withheld information about the safety of Roundup, that might be subject to a new trial. Bolanos said Johnson had not produced evidence that Monsanto employees believed the Roundup he was using would cause cancer. Bolanos further said she may also reduce the $39 million to $31 million if she upholds the ruling that exposure to Roundup did indeed cause Johnson's non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Bolanos asked for written arguments from the lawyers for both sides by Friday and will issue her final ruling once she has reviewed them.
"There's nothing that I heard that suggested the judge was persuaded otherwise on the question of punitive damages, so that tentative ruling is likely going to stand," said University of California Hastings Prof. David Levine told ABC 7.
Johnson said nothing during the two-hour hearing Wednesday.
"The Company continues to believe that the evidence at trial does not support the verdict and the damage awards," a Bayer spokesperson told The Guardian following the tentative ruling.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer listed glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen in 2015, and Johnson's attorneys had presented Monsanto emails that they said showed the company had worked to suppress negative findings about glyphosate and encourage positive ones.
The journal Critical Reviews in Toxicology issued an "Expression of Concern" last month over published articles finding glyphosate safe whose authors had failed to acknowledge their ties to Monsanto.
Whatever Bolanos ultimately decides, there are 8,000 plaintiffs bringing similar complaints against Monsanto, and some trials will start as soon as next year.
"I think we are going to win a lot more than we lose. There will always be appeals until Bayer is ready to settle the whole liability," one of Johnson's attorney's Timothy Litzenburg told The Guardian. "There are a lot of people out there suffering from this horrible disease that might've been avoided with a tiny label."
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Extreme weather events supercharged by climate change in 2012 led to nearly 1,000 more deaths, more than 20,000 additional hospitalizations, and cost the U.S. healthcare system $10 billion, a new report finds.
A Bay Area conservation group struck a deal to buy and to protect the world's largest remaining privately owned sequoia forest for $15.6 million. Now it needs to raise the money, according to CNN.
The Rugby World Cup starts Friday in Japan where Pacific Island teams from Samoa, Fiji and Tonga will face off against teams from industrialized nations. However, a new report from a UK-based NGO says that when the teams gather for the opening ceremony on Friday night and listen to the theme song "World In Union," the hypocrisy of climate injustice will take center stage.
By Wudan Yan
In June, New York Times journalist Andy Newman wrote an article titled, "If seeing the world helps ruin it, should we stay home?" In it, he raised the question of whether or not travel by plane, boat, or car—all of which contribute to climate change, rising sea levels, and melting glaciers—might pose a moral challenge to the responsibility that each of us has to not exacerbate the already catastrophic consequences of climate change. The premise of Newman's piece rests on his assertion that traveling "somewhere far away… is the biggest single action a private citizen can take to worsen climate change."
On Monday, Sept. 23, the Climate Group will kick off its 11th annual Climate Week NYC, a chance for governments, non-profits, businesses, communities and individuals to share possible solutions to the climate crisis while world leaders gather in the city for the UN Climate Action Summit.
By Pam Radtke Russell in New Orleans
Local TV weather forecasters have become foot soldiers in the war against climate misinformation. Over the past decade, a growing number of meteorologists and weathercasters have begun addressing the climate crisis either as part of their weather forecasts, or in separate, independent news reports to help their viewers understand what is happening and why it is important.