In today's Legal Look, we're reviewing the acceptance of a revised $78 million verdict in the first Roundup lawsuit, the dismissal of a class action lawsuit over the contamination of generic valsartan-based drugs, and the question of whether vegan butter can, in fact, be called "butter."
$78 Million Roundup Adjustment Accepted
Back in August, former school groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson received a massive $289 million verdict for his Roundup lawsuit against Monsanto. However, last month that verdict got trimmed heavily by a judge in San Francisco, who said that the punitive damages exceeded the bounds of due process. At the same time, the judge denied a request from Monsanto for a retrial.
Yesterday, Johnson announced that he would accept the reduced figure of $78.5 million in compensatory and punitive damages (equal amounts of about $39.25 million each). Sadly, Johnson has late-stage non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and his doctors say he is nearing the end of his life, which may be a factor in his decision not to seek an appeal or a new trial.
More than 8,000 Roundup lawsuits are still pending against Monsanto and its parent company, Bayer Pharmaceuticals.
Valsartan Contamination Class Action Lawsuit Dismissed
In July, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that batches of valsartan - a generic drug found in many different brands of blood pressure medications - had been contaminated with the known carcinogen N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA). Since then, the FDA's list of contaminated products has continued to expand, especially after a second cancer-causing contaminant N-nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA) was found in even more batches.
Because of the contamination, several people have filed valsartan lawsuits, claiming that the manufacturers failed to warn consumers about the carcinogen, even though it was contaminating valsartan supplies as far back as 2012. One such class action lawsuit was dismissed yesterday with a judge's decision that the plaintiff failed to demonstrate why the lawsuit belongs in federal court.
Although this particular lawsuit was dismissed, other valsartan lawsuits could be filed - and the same plaintiff could even re-file his class action lawsuit with updated information. If you've taken valsartan and have received a recent cancer diagnosis, you should talk to a lawyer for a free case review to see if you are eligible to file a lawsuit.
Some Juul E-Cigarette Claims Tossed
A federal judge in California has thrown out some of the claims in a class action lawsuit against e-cigarette maker Juul Labs. According to the judge's opinion, some of the claims included in the lawsuit are preempted by federal laws and regulations, meaning that they cannot be used as grounds for a lawsuit.
Nonetheless, the class action has not been completely thrown out, and other claims in the filing may still hold up under additional scrutiny. Futhermore, Juul is facing other e-cigarette lawsuits across the country over the addictive nature of its nicotine-based "Juul pods," which plaintiffs claim are highly addictive.
I Can't Believe It's Not Vegan Butter
Food labeling rules and regulations grow more and more complex every day. One report showed that class action lawsuits related to food labeling issues increased from 19 cases in 2008 to 102 cases in 2012, and a more recent review of legal news reports shows an average of nearly 2 labeling lawsuits filed each week in 2017. Notable cases include everything from what can be called "milk" (hint: "soy milk" and "almond milk" are fake news, according to some people) to how much ginger is actually in ginger ale.
The latest labeling lawsuit presents the existential question of whether vegan butter can actually be called "butter" at all. The class action lawsuit claims that Miyoko's Kitchen, the maker of Miyoko's Cultured Vegan Butter, is attempting to "bask in dairy's halo" by calling its coconut oil-based spread "butter." As such, the vegan food manufacturer is misleading consumers, "to the detriment and impoverishment of...class members."
I cannot speak to the merits of the case based on the little we know so far. However, I can say without a doubt that this is one of the most poetical claims in a class action lawsuit that I have ever seen.