Brent Wisner, lead trial attorney, convinced a jury in August that Monsanto Co.’s Roundup Weed Killer was the cause of his client’s cancer. He had compelling arguments and evidence which showed results in a huge verdict that scared off investors who looked forward to thousands of similar lawsuits across the United States, awaiting trial against Monsanto. Bayer acquired Monsanto in June.
Wisner’s closing arguments at trial bothered the judge who handled the case so much that she’s had considered throwing out the verdict and calling for a new trial.
The lawyer said to jurors that Monsanto executives in a business board room were, “waiting for the phone to ring” and that “behind them is a bunch of champagne on ice,” according to a court filing. He said that “if the damages number isn’t significant enough, champagne corks will pop.”
Wednesday at a hearing, Judge Suzanne Ramos Bolanos in San Francisco cited some reasons why she’d be inclined to set aside, or drastically cut the verdict. However, the champagne comment was singled out as she questioned is Wisner’s passionate rhetoric crossed the line. Wisner also stated to jurors that their decision could “change the world” and they could become a “part of history.” Bolanos says the comments could prove “sufficiently prejudicial” a new trial to be warranted.
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Wisner was reminded by the judge, who had joined the hearing over the phone, that he was taken aside by her during the closing arguments of the trial, warning him about those champagne comments. “In front of the jury you disregarded my order, and again repeated the same objectionable statement,” she stated.
Wisner seemed to have a suggestion that he was not aware of such an objection to the champagne reference specifically.
“We believe there was more than adequate evidence provided to this attentive, highly educated jury supporting each of their findings,” Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman PC, Wisner’s law firm, said in a statement. “It will be up to the court of appeals to review the evidence and this unanimous jury’s findings in a light most favorable to Lee Johnson.”
Kyle James Lee – The AEGIS Alliance – This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.