$2 Billion Glyphosate Verdict Weed Whacked To $86.7 Million

On July 25, 2019, Judge Winifred Smith of the Alameda County, California Superior Court reduced a $2 billion judgment entered by a jury against Monsanto Company, holding that the damages award was unconstitutionally high. The damages award was the third against the Bayer AG subsidiary in cases regarding whether popular herbicide Roundup causes Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The court reduced the judgment to $86.7 million. The court held that there was clear and convincing evidence that Monsanto committed malice, oppression, or fraud. Specifically, the evidence
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Three Steps Forward, Three Steps Back- California Moves Forward With Legislation to Adopt Overturned Federal Regulations

In a move that seems tailor-made to create additional litigation, California legislators are considering legislation that would automatically adopt any federal environmental regulations that are weakened or eliminated by the federal government. “SB 1 ensures clean air, clean water, endangered species, and worker safety standards that have been in place for as long as 50 years are not rolled back as a result of the anti-environment actions of the president and Congress,” Toni Atkins, Senate president pro tem, said in
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Tug-of-War: EPA and States Take Opposing Action on 1,4-Dioxane

On June 28, 2019, the EPA released its draft risk evaluation for 1,4-Dioxane. The EPA’s initial determination was that 1,4-Dioxane poses no unreasonable risks to the environment and no unreasonable risks to occupational non-users. However, the EPA also concluded that the chemical presents unreasonable risks to workers in certain circumstances. The same day, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control held a public workshop on 1,4-Dioxane risks, and the department is actively considering further regulation. Just two days earlier, the New York legislature
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To Remove or Not Remove – Complete Preemption is the Question!

An interesting dichotomy is developing in how federal courts are determining the proper forum for climate change lawsuits, that is whether they should be heard in state or federal court. This question, while seemingly a technical matter of civil procedure, could be fundamental to whether current and future climate change suits will be successful or whether they will be heard at all. The technical issue at stake is preemption – whether federal issues are determinative of the matters raised in
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Summer of Discontent – EPA looks to eliminate California Air Resources Board

Despite an effort by the automotive industry, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is set to finalize a proposal that would freeze fuel economy standards at roughly 37 miles per gallon for the next six years, rather than raising them to nearly 51 miles per gallon for 2025 models. The rule would also revoke California’s existing waiver to set its own rules under the Clean Air Act, a practice the federal government has allowed for decades. “As we acknowledged earlier this
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Oh, Nuts… California to Enact Ban on Use of Chlorpyrifos

Earlier this month, California state officials announced plans to ban chlorpyrifos, a widely used farm pesticide on crops such as oranges, grapes, and almonds. Chlorpyrifos is still approved for those uses by the EPA. The current EPA administration has been defending the chemical against court challenges after the Obama administration took steps to prohibit its use. In April, chlorpyrifos was formally listed by the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) as a “toxic air contaminant,” which California law defines as “an
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Glyphosate Alert: ATSDR Releases Draft Toxicological Profile and Governments Enact Restrictive Legislation

There have been several notable updates regarding glyphosate. First, and notwithstanding the US EPA’s long maintained position that glyphosate is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans, earlier this month, another US agency, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), issued a draft report on the Toxicological Profile for Glyphosate. The draft ATSDR report was reportedly conducted over the past several years. The report states that, among other things, “a possible
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BREAKING: Second Jury Finds That Glyphosate Causes Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

Approximately seven months after a California state jury found that DeWayne Johnson’s workplace exposure to glyphosate-containing Roundup and Ranger Pro caused him to develop Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, another jury in California, this time in federal court, has arrived at the same conclusion. On Wednesday, March 20, 2019, in a trial overseen by U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria, the jury found that Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller was a substantial factor in causing the plaintiff Ed Hardeman’s Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, that it was more than
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PG&E Wildfire Bankruptcy Doubles Down on Environmental Setbacks for the Golden State

In what the Wall Street Journal touted as “(t)he First Climate Change Bankruptcy,” Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) filed for federal bankruptcy protection last month after claiming that it faced $30 billion dollars in liability for wildfires that ravaged California over the last several years. Investigators have determined that the California utility company caused at least 17 of 21 major Northern California wildfires that occurred in 2017, and inquiries into PG&E’s culpability for 2018 fires that killed scores of people and
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Glyphosate Update: Judge Limits Previous Ruling, Allowing More Evidence at Trial Against Monsanto

The next batch of glyphosate-related trials are scheduled to take place over the next two months. As previously reported, Monsanto (which was acquired by Bayer last year) has been mired in toxic tort litigation over its glyphosate-based weed killer Roundup. The primary allegations center around whether certain exposure to glyphosate is causally related to the plaintiffs’ development of lymphoma. There are more than 9,300 lawsuits currently pending around the country. Early in January, Monsanto scored a victory when U.S. District
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