First, The Associated Press reported that Bayer, the German company that acquired Monsanto in June, officially filed to appeal the first historic verdict that found in favor of plaintiff Dewayne Johnson, who claimed repeated use of Roundup weed killer gave him the non-Hodgkin lymphoma that doctors say will kill him.
But, as Bayer prepares its appeal, it will face fresh trials. Also on Tuesday, the first federal case to go to court was selected from a docket of more than 620 pending cases, Reuters reported. The trial will be the second out of around 9,3000 pending U.S. lawsuits and will take place in February 2019.
All of the trials hinge on whether glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, does or does not cause cancer. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maintains it most likely does not, but the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer ruled it was "probably carcinogenic to humans" in 2015.
In the first trial, a jury ruled in favor of Johnson in August and initially awarded him $289 million in damages. Bayer moved to have the verdict tossed all together, but Judge Suzanne Bolanos upheld the verdict while significantly slashing the punitive damages to reduce Johnson's total compensation to $78 million. Johnson accepted the reduced amount to avoid a second trial, and Bayer vowed to appeal, a promise the company made good on Tuesday.
"We continue to believe that the liability verdict and reduced damage award are not supported by the evidence at trial or the law," Bayer said in a statement reported by The Associated Press.
The next plaintiff Bayer will face is California resident Edwin Hardeman, U.S. District Judge Vince Chaabria in San Francisco decided Tuesday. His trial will serve as a "bellwether" or test trial for the federal litigation to help both sides figure out options for damages and settlements. Reuters explained Hardeman's story:
Hardeman began using the Roundup brand herbicide with glyphosate in the 1980s to control poison oak and weeds on his property and sprayed "large volumes" of the chemical for many years on a regular basis, according to court documents. He was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph system, in February 2015 and filed his lawsuit a year later.Hardeman's is the first federal glyphosate case to go to trial. Another California state case will get its day in court in March, after an elderly couple asked for an early trial because of declining health. A third is set to begin in St. Louis, Missouri later next year.
The move comes after regional authorities declared a state of emergency over the weekend after sightings of more than 50 bears in the town of Belushya Guba since December.
This year's letter from Bill and Melinda Gates focused on nine things that surprised them. For the Microsoft-cofounder, one thing he was surprised to learn was the massive amount of new buildings the planet should expect in the coming decades due to urban population growth.
"The number of buildings in the world is going to double by 2060. It's like we're going to build a new New York City every month for the next 40 years," he said.
By Shana Udvardy
After a dearth of action on climate change and a record year of extreme events in 2017, the inclusion of climate change policies within the annual legislation Congress considers to outline its defense spending priorities (the National Defense Authorization Act) for fiscal year 2018 was welcome progress. House and Senate leaders pushed to include language that mandated that the Department of Defense (DoD) incorporate climate change in their facility planning (see more on what this section of the bill does here and here) as well as issue a report on the impacts of climate change on military installations. Unfortunately, what DoD produced fell far short of what was mandated.
Trump is losing his rallying cry to save coal. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) voted on Thursday to retire two coal-fired power plants in the next few years despite a plea from the president to keep one of the plants open.
Earlier this week, the president posted an oddly specific tweet that urged the government-owned utility to save the 49-year-old Paradise 3 plant in Kentucky. It so happens that the facility burns coal supplied by Murray Energy Corporation, whose CEO is Robert Murray, is a major Trump donor.