Punitive Justice Served in Federal Court

 Personal Injury Attorney Indianapolis, IN

A well-known manufacturer of agricultural and lawn products used to discourage weeds has been unanimously served with justice by a California federal jury consisting of six jurors. We will call the corporation the defendant.

Represented by his personal injury attorney, the petitioner/plaintiff testified that he was diagnosed with stage III non-Hodgkin lymphoma cancer after using the product since 1986 on his sizeable acreage in California. Defendant claimed to trust the safety of the product because there were no warnings on the label. The plaintiff further testified that he underwent six rounds of chemotherapy causing him brain chemo or confusion, nausea, fatigue, vast swelling of his body and bone pain so acute that he was unable to lie down. His wife testified that this once patient man changed and would cry out in pain from the illness and the side effects of the chemo.

After it was determined that defendant’s product significantly factored into causing the plaintiff’s cancer, the evidence showed that the defendant was aware of a number of scientific studies linking their product to cancer, yet failed to disclose the information to the public. An internal company report concluded that the active ingredient, glysophate, has the capability of damaging cells. In March of 2019, the jury found the corporate defendant guilty of failing to warn consumers that the widely used agricultural product could cause cancer and the plaintiff was awarded more than $80 million dollars in damages. The jury apportioned the damages as follows:

Economic DamagesThe injured plaintiff received just under $200,000 for economic damages. Generally speaking, economic damages are quantified with statements, receipts, work history and tax records. The damages may include medical bills, loss of income, loss of earning capacity, rehabilitation and out-of-pocket expenses.

Non-Economic DamagesThe injured plaintiff was awarded approximately $5 million dollars for past and future non-economic damages. Non-economic damages may include pain and suffering or the loss of joy of life —past, present; and future declining health caused by the plaintiff’s injury. They are so-called non-economic damages because they are subjective quality of life issues—difficult to appraise and value.

Punitive DamagesThe jury award for punitive damages accounted for the bulk of the verdict at $75 million-dollars. It was alleged that the defendant had knowingly created, tested, advertised, distributed and sold a product containing a carcinogen to industrial and individual consumers. But before readers assert “Excessive!” and diminish the noble work of my colleagues and personal injury attorneys faithful to those harmed by a deliberate breech of care, punitive damages are an entirely appropriate legal tool used by judges and juries to punish and, more importantly, change bad behaviors performed by powerful organizations.

From the perspective of a personal injury attorney Indianapolis, IN trusts, if you feel you have been harmed by a device or product, call an experienced personal injury attorney in Indianapolis, IN from Ward & Ward Law Firm to discuss a potential product liability claim.