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Articles Posted in Mass Tort Cases

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The second phase of the bifurcated trial determining whether Monsanto should be held liable for the non-Hodgkins lymphoma suffered by a man after using the Monsanto product Roundup for decades has concluded. The culmination of the trial resulted in a jury award of over $5.6 million in compensatory damages and $200,000 for medical expenses to the plaintiff, and $75 million in punitive damages. The damages awarded are not only meant to compensate the plaintiff for the harm he suffered, but also to punish Monsanto for inappropriate conduct related to the product. While Bayer, the company that purchased Monsanto, issued a statement that it did not believe the subject case would impact future cases, the opposite is most likely true. Although each case must be assessed on its unique facts, it is probable that the subject case will have far-reaching effects on cases throughout the country in which it is alleged that Roundup caused a plaintiff’s harm, including Illinois toxic tort cases.

Evidence Presented in the Second Phase

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Yesterday, a six-person jury concluded that Roundup was a substantial cause of plaintiff’s non-Hodgkins lymphoma. The verdict sends a clear message to Bayer, the company that purchased Monsanto, and for the 11,000 plaintiffs in cases already filed in courts around the country – there is a link between glyphosate and cancer. Because of the case’s national importance, the jury’s recent decision will affect many Illinois toxic tort plaintiffs, as well as those across the country.

According to a recent news report covering the trial, the case involves a man who claimed that use of the defendant’s weed-killer, Round-Up, caused him to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). Evidently, the plaintiff used the weed-killer over 300 times in his 26-year career. The plaintiff also claims that the manufacturer attempted to influence scientists, regulators, and the general public regarding the safety of the product.

The case is important for several reasons. First, it is only the second case in which jurors have had to determine whether the chemical composition in Round-Up is a substantial factor in causing NHL. The defendant manufacturer claims that its product is safe for human use, regardless of exposure levels. However, the plaintiff argues numerous studies contradict the manufacturer’s assertions, showing that the risk of developing cancer increases with the level of exposure to the product. The only previous case involved a successful claim by a California man who recovered $289 million earlier last year.

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If not properly maintained, Illinois nursing homes and skilled care facilities can be breeding grounds for various types of bacteria that can lead to outbreaks of serious diseases or illnesses. While most Illinois nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, and skilled care facilities take the necessary precautions to ensure that the facilities are kept sanitary, not all facilities prioritize cleanliness as they should. In these facilities, residents are at an increased risk of contracting serious illnesses.

According to a recent news report, a resident in a Manteno veterans’ home was diagnosed with Legionnaire’s disease earlier this month. Evidently, the resident was diagnosed early in the morning, and by the afternoon the Veteran’s Administration had implemented an “active water management program” and was reaching out to residents, family members, and attorneys to inform them of the recent diagnosis.

Legionnaire’s Disease

Legionnaire’s disease is a severe form of pneumonia that is usually caused by some kind of infection. The disease is not spread from person to person by physical contact, but is contracted by inhaling the bacteria Legionella. Smokers, older adults, and those with weakened immune systems are at an increased risk of contracting Legionnaire’s disease.

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In civil claims, when a jury finds in favor of the plaintiff, the plaintiff is generally awarded damages to compensate for the injuries or damages incurred. Compensatory damages are often awarded to compensate the plaintiff for medical expenses, lost wages, mental distress, and other losses.

Punitive damages can also be awarded to plaintiffs in certain cases. In contrast to compensatory damages that are meant to compensate the plaintiff, punitive damages are awarded to punish the defendant for bad behavior and to deter others from engaging in such behavior.

Illinois law permits punitive damages awards if the defendant’s behavior demonstrated “an evil motive” or a “reckless indifference to the rights of others.” In Illinois, punitive damages are awarded for three reasons:  to deter the defendant from engaging in such behavior, to deter others from engaging in similar behavior, and to punish the defendant. In state law claims, punitive damages can be as much as three times the economic damages award. In other states and jurisdictions, the amount of allowable punitive damages varies. In any case, a punitive damages award can greatly increase the compensation a plaintiff receives, when it is available.

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Toxic chemicals can leak into the ground, water, and air, causing devastating injuries and illnesses to our communities. In a recent case, the jury awarded a man $5 million for his injuries and $500,000 in punitive damages against the company for its bad behavior after it dumped a toxic chemical into the river.

Damages: Compensatory vs. Punitive

Compensatory damages are awarded to the plaintiff to compensate the plaintiff for the injuries suffered. These damages often include compensation for medical expenses and lost wages, and they can also include intangible damages, such as emotional distress. Punitive damages may be awarded in addition to actual damages in some cases. Punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant for harmful behavior and to deter wrongdoing in the future.

Punitive Damages in Illinois

Illinois views punitive damages as punishment in order to serve three purposes:  (1) for retribution; (2) to deter similar conduct by the defendant in the future; and (3) to deter others from similar conduct. In Illinois, in state law claims, punitive damages are limited to three times the economic damages. Illinois allows punitive damages only when the defendant’s conduct was “with an evil motive or with a reckless indifference to the rights of others.” In the DuPont case, the jury was required to find “malice” in order to award punitive damages.

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Toxic substances can cause serious sicknesses with long-lasting effects. Toxic tort cases are a specific type of personal injury lawsuit in which the plaintiff claims that being exposed to chemicals caused the plaintiff injury. The cases usually require specialized, technical testimony from expert witnesses. Sometimes cases are brought against private companies, or against federal and state agencies that have failed to protect citizens. Individuals who have been exposed to toxic chemicals often need to recover damages to pay for expensive medical bills, as well as damages for pain and suffering.

Toxic tort cases can be caused by exposure to hazardous chemicals, wastes, hydrocarbons, or other harmful substances. Some common examples are exposure to asbestos, formaldehyde, and lead. These cases can arise in a number of different situations. They can arise from exposure in the workplace if workers are exposed to toxic chemicals. Many toxic chemicals are used in the workplace, and workers can be exposed regularly over many years, often to higher levels than the general population.

These cases can also be brought against pharmaceutical companies, drug manufacturers, distributors, or prescribing doctors if toxic substances are included in drugs. Cases can be brought resulting from exposure to consumer products, such as exposure to mold, formaldehyde, and pesticides in the home. They can also result from exposure to toxins in the air or in drinking water.

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