This Land is Our Land

Oh my gosh, I worried all afternoon about what/how I would write about Judge Bolanos’s ruling.  Given the momentum of the last few weeks, I felt it would inevitably be bad news. I even had an acupuncture session this morning to balance my energy, and I’m not even an acupuncture type of person.

The courthouse computer servers must have nearly shut down for how many times I was looking for new filings under the Johnson v Monsanto case today. Fortunately, the courthouse emailed out the ruling directly to the media. I felt like I was opening my son’s report card, nervously squinting a little and reading through my fingers to partially blind myself from bad news.

No need for the fingers – this was a SOLID report card from Judge Bolanos. The heading on the ruling reads:

ORDER DENYING MONSANTO COMPANY’S MOTION FOR JUDGMENT NOTWITHSTANDING THE VERDICT and CONDITIONALLY DENYING MONSANTO’S MOTION FOR NEW TRIAL

The speediest of speedy and dispassionate journalists tweeted and reported immediately, proving that I’m better off as a biased, emotional, and tortoise-slow blogger who takes her merry time processing the news.

With that, here are highlights of Judge Bolanos’s order.

Regarding Judgement Notwithstanding the Verdict (JNOV)

Monsanto argued about the permissibility of certain evidence used in the trial as a basis for a JNOV ruling. Bolanos writes in her ruling: “In ruling on a motion for JNOV, a court may not change a prior ruling as to the admissibility of evidence. ‘We must take the record as we find it. We cannot strike or disregard any evidence favorable to the prevailing party merely because it was erroneously received.’”

As those of us who were present at the trial remember, and despite Monsanto’s claims otherwise, Plaintiff expert oncologist Dr. Nabhan did acknowledge that many cases of NHL are idiopathic. “In performing his differential diagnosis, Dr. Nabhan explained that because Mr. Johnson was much younger than the average patient who developed the disease this raised a “red flag” that his cancer is not likely to be idiopathic and more likely to be caused by an exposure.” Bolanos says that: “Dr. Nabhan did not need to eliminate every other possible cause of Plaintiff’s cancer. Because there is no substantial evidence of an alternative explanation for Plaintiff’s NHL, the jury here was free to give weight to Dr. Nabhan’s testimony that GBHs were a substantial factor in causing the cancer.”

Monsanto argued that the non-economic damages of $37 million was excessive, and that Johnson should not receive $1 million per year for every remaining year of a healthy person’s lifespan. When calculating the non-economic damages, the Court presumes that the jury followed the legal instructions, and the $37 million holds. “For the reasons stated, the Court declines to grant Monsanto’s JNOV regarding liability.”

Regarding Monsanto’s Arguments to Dismiss Punitive Damages

Monsanto argued at length that there is no evidence that a specific “managing agent” acted with malicious conduct or with a conscious disregard for safety. They argue that none of the Monsanto employees who were deposed and shown in video testimony had a “managing agent” position. Of course, while those employees may not have had traditional corporate titles, they certainly held the responsibilities worthy of such titles. Nevertheless, Bolanos writes that “Plaintiff is not required to identify a particular managing agent if he can illustrate by clear and convincing inference that the company as a whole acted maliciously,” and that “Monsanto’s argument about the lack of evidence of conduct by a managing agent must fail.”

In previous cases, “punitive damages have been upheld where a defendant has failed to conduct adequate testing on a product…Punitive damages have also been upheld where ‘there was a “reasonable disagreement” among experts.’” Bolanos therefore rules that: “The jury could conclude that Monsanto acted with malice by consciously disregarding a probable safety risk of GBHs and continuing to market and sell its product without a warning.” That’s likely my favorite sentence in the document.

Despite the $250 million the jury felt Johnson should be awarded, punitive damages are limited by the Fourteenth Amendment that stipulates due process. Bolanos cites that: “Punitive damages found to exceed the ceiling of what due process allows must be reduced.” With a well articulated series of arguments, Bolanos reduces the punitive damages to be a 1:1 ratio stating: “In a case such as this where there is a punitive element to the compensatory damages award, the law supports only a one to one ratio for punitive damages.”

Finally, “In enforcing due process limits, the Court does not sit as a replacement for the jury but only as a check on arbitrary awards. The punitive damages award must be constitutionally reduced to the maximum allowed by due process in this case – $39,253,209.35 – equal to the amount of compensatory damages awarded by the jury based on its findings of harm to the plaintiff.

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Final Thoughts

I hope that Lee Johnson can sleep better tonight knowing that his story has not been lost, and that 12 jurors saw the truth and stood up for him.

Final, Final Thoughts

We should all thank the jurors profusely for their well-written, thoughtful letters to the Judge. This Order strongly hints that Judge Bolanos took the jury’s opinions into careful consideration when determining her ruling. Guess what?? Our system still works if we can all bravely step up, like these jurors did, on behalf of justice.

Hopefully, we will see Bayer’s stock price take a blow tomorrow, though all hope is not lost for them yet. Monsanto/Bayer will most certainly appeal this ruling.

Oh & By The Way

I eat organically about 90% of the time. I recently took a glyphosate urine test and it showed an unfortunately high level of glyphosate in my body. Oh for the love of…

What more can be done? We need to continue working together to eradicate the use of glyphosate and restore our collective health. Johnson’s bravery, today’s ruling, and the jurors’ diligence continue us down that path!

If you are interested in getting tested, Moms Across America has a fantastic list of services for urine testing and hair testing. I did my urine testing through HRI Labs.

 

© 2018 Kelly Ryerson ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

6 Comments

  1. GOOD NEWS INDEED!
    One query I have is that given that the patent expired (’91 and finally 2000), how do we adjudge who is to blame for a lot of private uses, who will not have documented details of their purchases..
    Your urine test results were unfortunate – the Green Members of the European Parliament recently tested their levels and came out at an average of 1.73. Is that any consolation?
    Our household runs 100% organic regime, but we do socialise and so open up a contamination route.
    Our water company does not show glyphosate as a separately recorded pesticide contaminate, and lumps it in with run of mill stuff, which it reduces to a “safe level”. Funnily enough it does list the organochlorines separately – a hangover, as we all have DDT in our increasingly fatter bodies. Organic water is difficult, especially as rainwater has been shown to contain glyphosate, so we only drink mineral water, which we hope the pesticides haven’t leached to yet.
    Getting a glyphosate test in the UK is difficult, but there are some European test labs, which I will contact.

  2. Thank you for your wonderful update, although the amount was reduced, we still had a win today.
    I have telling people about the dangers of Glyphosate since I learned about it when my husband was diagnosed with Non Hodgkins Lymphoma Stage IV in December of 2015, and I find it very difficult to eat anything since his death in July of 2016. Having gone through Chemotherapy with him and its side effects, the horrible, unending suffering he endured from the cancer, I still can’t taste my food, and when I do eat, I throw most of it away. Knowing what ‘s in our food system has destroyed my appetite, but I must eat to go on and try a live my life. Thank you again GG now I am going to have my urine tested also. Keep up the wonderful work, we need you. Deborah Brooks

  3. I don’t even need a urine test to see the bright red blood in the toilet after spraying in my neighborhood. Seventh time this year.

    As a celiac who went gluten-free at 30 I’m probably the only 50-year-old who looks into a mirror and thinks “Ewww ick, I look as *bad* as I did at 17”–which, this morning, I did. (White hairs fall out first but unfortunately I’ve been sick enough to have lost a lot of black hair too, this year.)

  4. I would like to ask everyone to join me on Twitter where I ask every day.

    Pleas ask your followers & join me everyday asking @POTUS @FLOTUS @realDonaldTrump @EPAAWheeler @US_FDA @SecretarySonny PLZ get the poison out of our food

    You can me @aladayllc

    Thanks

GG loves comments!! Let me know your thoughts!