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Monsanto Trial(s) Update

Organics Admin
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Organics Admin

COO at Aladay LLC
Organic Farmer, Property Preservation Specialist and Custom Glass & Wood Worker. Blogger extraordinaire...
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEE

December 1, 2018

Contact: Robin McCall Media Relations

Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman, PC

Los Angeles • Philadelphia • Washington, D.C.

Main Office

Los Angeles Office

10940 Wilshire Blvd., 17th Floor

Los Angeles, CA 90024

Phone: (310) 207-3233

Email: rmccall@baumhedlundlaw.com

Web: Monsanto Roundup Trial Schedule

Next Monsanto Trial Begins February 2019

We have updated our Monsanto Roundup Trial Schedule page as some trial dates have changed.

We have also added a quick list of all trials in date order at the top of the page (which I’ve also included below).

Upcoming Monsanto Trial Dates

02/25/2019 – Federal Court – Hardeman
03/18/2019 – CA JCCP – Pilliod (2 plaintiffs)
04/01/2019 – St. Louis City Court – Hall
04/22/2019 – St. Louis County Court – Gordon
05/25/2019 – Federal Court – Stevick or Gebeyehou
09/09/2019 – St. Louis County Court – 4 plaintiffs
01/21/2020 – St. Louis City Court – 10 plaintiffs
03/23/2020 – St. Louis City Court

Guest Writer: Diana R H Winters Interview on Suing Monsanto

Organics Admin
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Organics Admin

COO at Aladay LLC
Organic Farmer, Property Preservation Specialist and Custom Glass & Wood Worker. Blogger extraordinaire...
Organics Admin
Follow Me!!

Latest posts by Organics Admin (see all)

Suing a company the size of Monsanto

Diana R H Winter conducted an excellent Interview about three weeks agto with the law firm that took Monsanto to task recently,  of course we are speaking of, Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman.

Suing mega-corporations like Mnsanto can be daunting. We all know they have unlimited financial resources. Have we reached a point when the obvious can no longer be ignored??? Have we come to the proverbial crossroads when the general public has had enough?

Enough of the Agrichemical Industry’s front shills that apear to provide a auroa of legitimacy to the poisons in our food supply? Front Shills like Know Ideas Media, the Genetic Literacy Project type of propaganda information dispensors of the  Monsanto Propaganda Machine? Have We the People gotten to the point where #DumocratLogic no longer makes sense and we’ll allow for Common Sense to take over? If you’re like me you’re sitting there saying…. I sure hope so.

Diana has been kind enough be our guest writer and share her interview. Be sure to tune in to GMO Tuesday as I will be looking at the Factory Farming catastrophy created in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence. We ask that you garnish good thoughts and send some positive mojo to the good folks in the Caolina’s and thosein the path of Florence…Godspeed.

Diana R. H. Winters

Michael Roberts and I were lucky enough to spend an hour talking with Michael Baum and Pedram Esfandiary from the law firm of Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman.  The firm represents approximately 700 plaintiffs in lawsuits against Monsanto alleging that the plaintiffs’ exposure to the Roundup herbicide caused them or a loved one to contract non-Hodgkin lymphoma.  Some of these lawsuits have been consolidated in a multidistrict litigation in United States District Court in San Francisco, a Judicial Council Coordination Proceedings (“JCCP”) in Oakland and consolidated cases in St. Louis (near Monsanto’s headquarters).   Shortly after this interview, one of these state cases proceeded through trial, and a jury in San Francisco returned a verdict of $289.2 million against Monsanto, including $250 million in punitive damage.  Brent Wisner of Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman was co-lead trial counsel in this case.

Baum and Esfandiary also represent plaintiffs in a separate class action against Monsanto Co. alleging that the company falsely promoted Roundup as interfering with an enzyme that was not found in humans or pets, although this enzyme does actually interfere with essential, beneficial microbiota found in both humans and pets.  This class action accuses Monsanto of making “false, misleading, and deceptive” claims.

These lawsuits against Monsanto are brought to help individuals who have suffered harm, but also impact our food system as a whole, and have the potential to influence change in the regulatory landscape.

Michael Baum in the senior managing partner of Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman, and he has been lead counsel in thousands of personal injury, drug catastrophe, and mass disaster litigations.  He is a graduate of UCLA Law School.  Pedram Esfandiary joined the firm in 2016.  He holds a law degree from the University of Birmingham Law School, UK, and a Master of Laws degree from the USC Gould School of Law.

Baum, Hedlund has quite a bit of information about these lawsuits on their website.  See here for information on the Monsanto Papers, which are documents obtained by the firm during discovery.  And see here for information on how the class action differs from the individual lawsuits.  For more information on Monsanto, contact info@baumhedlundlaw.com.

NOTE: The interview has been edited and condensed for readability.

Diana Winters [DW]

Michael Roberts [MTR]

Michael Baum [MB]

Pedram Esfandiary [PE]

DW: Can you tell us a little bit about your background and what brought you to these Monsanto cases?

MB: Well I actually started doing various forms of product liability cases in pharmaceutical products. And I’ve worked on a wide range of [] wrongful death and product liability cases. One of the women that works in our office had an uncle who was a farmer up in San Luis Obispo area, and used nothing but Roundup, which is a glyphosate-based herbicide. And he and his dog both developed lymphoma and died, [from] non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and they asked us to look into it. Another UCLA grad, Brent Wisner, at our office, and I had been …looking into ways of using litigation to influence or prove or expose what is going on with the pesticide industry interfering with the food supply [by] contaminating it, or killing the bees and the pollinators that honey farmers and almond growers and pistachio growers [rely on].

So we were interested in the area, and started pulling data on the relationship between glyphosate based formulations like Roundup that are used to kill weeds, and non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and found that there had actually been a publication in March of 2015 at IARC, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, that [noted] the association between glyphosate based products and non-Hodgkins lymphoma and other forms of cancer. And the strongest correlation was with non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

DW: What is the International Agency for Research on Cancer? Is it a United States-based organization?

MB: World Health Organization. A lot of neutral independent scientists are appointed by the World Health Organization as part of the International Agency for Research on Cancer. They are leading academics and scientists from around the world, and they are do non-industry funded research, which is important in this area because so much of academic research is corrupted by industry. I’ve been on the soapbox for a long time.

DW: Okay, and so you started to collect this data, and—?

MB: … [The report showed] elevated levels of carcinogenicity related to Roundup and glyphosate-based products. So with that body of science we had enough to file a lawsuit. So we … summarized it, and decided to represent the family of the farmer in San Luis Obispo who … believed that Roundup was safe for humans because it said so on the label. The label says it affects an enzyme found in plants, but not in humans or pets, [so was] safe to use on food. And he had a citrus farm and he went around and sprayed all of his trees and around his trees with Roundup thinking it was safe.

DW: And [] under what theory was the case brought?

MB: That [the farmer’s] exposure to Roundup while he was spraying it around his farm caused non-Hodgkins lymphoma. And there are a couple of mechanisms for how it does that.

[Baum explains here that the glyphosate in Roundup and other herbicides combines with another molecule in the herbicide, a surfactant, which multiplies exponentially the harmful effects of the glyphosate.]

PE: [] What is significant here is that Monsanto managed to focus regulatory agencies and the public on just glyphosate whereas what is being used is Roundup, a formulated product, [including] the surfactants and [other chemicals] that contribute to the carcinogenicity of the product. There are impurities in there that come about as a result of the manufacturing process. One of them is dioxane, which is a recognized carcinogen. Another one is formaldehyde which is another recognized carcinogen, as well as NNG . These are all individual carcinogens that are in the Roundup formulation.

MB: So the surfactant is supposed to be inert. And the way they define inert is that it is not the active molecule that is interfering with the enzyme pathway that glyphosate influences. And they test them separately, not together.

 

DW: Even though they are together in the product?

MB: Yes.

PE:  So the EPA [studies] of Roundup, [are not of] Roundup, [but] of the molecule glyphosate.

MB: So one of the issues is that glyphosate by itself, under the conditions, is not as carcinogenic as the formula that has the surfactant in it. And so studies—some of the internal documents that we got from Monsanto, and that we declassified and circulated around the world, was their internal discussion saying we can’t say that Roundup is not carcinogenic because we haven’t actually tested that and don’t want to know the outcome.

 

MTR:  It’s interesting, you sent these documents to Europe how many years ago?

MB: A year and a half.

 

MTR:  A year and a half ago.

MB: Just before Roundup and glyphosate-based products were supposed to be getting their license renewal for the next fifteen years.

 

MTR:  The outcome of that, was what?

MB: It stopped it being renewed for fifteen years.

DW: There were a bunch of these cases, right? The non-Hodgkins lymphoma cases?

MB: Yeah, we represent about 700 people.

 

DW: So these are separate cases that have been combined in a multi-district litigation?

PE:  Both the state level and federal level, it is multi-district litigation. In California, we have a JCCP, which is a Judicial Council for Coordinated Proceedings.

MB: It is the California equivalent of an MDL.

MB: There is a consolidated group of cases in Saint Louis. And all told there have probably been around 8,000 cases filed.

 

[DW asks about the timeline of other filed cases.]

MB: As we …were looking around to see how and where to file, one of my colleagues from this other litigation I worked on, … invited us to come to [a meeting with other lawyers filing Roundup cases in January 2016]. So we were part of that initial crew of law firms that came together to sort of strategize where and how to file, and what experts to get, things like that.

DW: Why are some of the cases brought in federal court and some in state court?

PE:  Well, it’s just legal strategy. So the federal cases have been consolidated, and the … MDL judge has bifurcated those cases, which means he wants to consider general causation first, which is the question of whether this product can generally cause cancer in human populations, before he proceeds to considering specific causation, i.e. whether it caused cancer in any individual plaintiff. And that is a significant hurdle for the plaintiff’s bar to overcome, especially in federal court with the Daubert standard[1] for expert testimony.

So that is one reason. Another reason is because of the high standards for admitting expert testimony in federal court versus state court. State proceedings tend to be a lot more kind of full steam ahead, and getting to a trial is going to be maybe not easier but a more streamlined process.

MB: So one of the issues in federal court due to the bifurcation was that we were limited on what discovery we could do, and then … everything had to be related to general causation. We wanted to get our hands on some of those internal documents which showed this corruption going on, and ghostwriting [of scientific articles], and having journal editors and journal peer reviewers on Monsanto’s payroll. That is real corruption. And that doesn’t relate to whether or not glyphosate as a molecule causes cancer, it relates to—wrongful conduct by the company but doesn’t necessarily mean it could cause cancer. So we had run into quite a bit of resistance from Monsanto to give us those documents, and from the judge considering whether or not he would give them to us. We ended up getting some, but not all—so we wanted to have the state court litigation where there wasn’t necessarily going to be bifurcation, and that would allow us to get access to some of these [documents].

Read entire interview here

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Until Next Time

Happy Gardening