After a single day of deliberation, a jury delivered the first-ever verdict for Monsanto yesterday in Clark v. Monsanto, a trial involving claims that the herbicide Roundup causes Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. Wilkinson Stekloff Founding Partner Brian Stekloff first-chaired the trial; Associate Cali Cope-Kasten handled several witnesses, and Partner Kieran Gostin advised on all aspects of trial strategy.
Clark was the fourth case in this mass tort to go to trial; the three previous trials resulted in verdicts against Monsanto ranging from $81 million to over $2 billion. Clark was also the first case involving a child plaintiff.
The victory was the product of a comprehensive trial strategy. Shortly after being retained as lead trial counsel, Brian convinced the judge to “reverse bifurcate” the case into a first phase focused on causation and a second phase focused on liability and damages. The ruling marked the first time a state court judge has granted such a motion in the Roundup litigation, and the bifurcation allowed the jury to focus on the scientific evidence.
At trial, Brian delivered the opening and closing statements and cross-examined almost all of the plaintiffs’ scientific experts, obtaining critical admissions about flaws in their methodology and the millions of dollars they have obtained through expert work. Cali handled direct examination of Monsanto’s weed science expert and cross-examined the plaintiffs’ sole expert on human studies. Kieran, along with several of the firm’s associates, argued multiple motions throughout the trial.