Repeated Misconduct by Plaintiffs’ Counsel Led to $2B Roundup Verdict, Monsanto Says
The Recorder | By Amanda Bronstad
“Repeated misconduct by plaintiffs’ counsel” influenced jurors who awarded more than $2 billion to a California couple in a trial over Roundup herbicide, according to Monsanto Co. in court documents seeking to overturn the verdict.
In a motion for a new trial filed Monday, Monsanto, now owned by Bayer AG, cited several remarks from plaintiffs attorneys during trial, such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency having “blood on their hands” and that glyphosate was “in the food. It’s all over the place.” Such “inflammatory argument” was among a list of reasons why Alameda County Superior Court Judge Winifred Smith should overturn the May 13 verdict or, at the very least, substantially reduce the award, Monsanto’s lawyers wrote.
“The verdicts do not reflect the evidence presented in the case; they reflect deep passion and prejudice borne from plaintiffs’ counsel’s improper argument rested on inflammatory, fabricated, and irrelevant evidence that should have been excluded,” wrote Monsanto attorney Lee Marshall, a San Francisco partner at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, in a motion for new trial filed Monday. “Counsel here engaged in misconduct throughout trial, culminating in an over-the-top closing statement littered with precisely the type of misconduct that California law flatly prohibits—a performance that capped a trial in which counsel routinely ignored the court’s rulings and sought to invoke fear in jurors.”