"Objectionable statement" from lawyer may have cost $289 million

by Steve Randall12 Oct 2018

The blockbuster verdict in the trial of weed-killer manufacturer Monsanto has taken an unusual turn.

The US firm, acquired by global chemical giant Bayer AG in June, was hit with US$289 in punitive and compensatory damages in August, after the jury agreed that its Roundup product had caused groundsman Dewayne Johnson’s cancer.

However, Johnson’s lawyer Brent Wisner may have cost his client millions of dollars after angering the judge with comments made about Monsanto’s board.

In trying to secure the highest possible damages award, he is reported to have commented that Monsanto executives would be waiting for a phone call regarding damages and "behind them is a bunch of champagne on ice."

Bloomberg reports that judge Suzanne Ramos Bolanos warned him about the comment, but he later repeated the champagne remark.

The judge said this “objectionable statement” and other issues were leading her to consider reducing the damages award which may include setting aside the $250m punitive damages, reducing the compensatory damages to $9m from $33m, or ordering a re-trial.

Asia Pacific duo among 41 White & Case promotions
Two lawyers in Hong Kong are among the 41 new partners at White & Case.

In the global banking practice, Andrew Bishop joins the partnership with his practice focus on advising private equity sponsors. And in global

capital markets, Jessica Zhou makes partner. She advises on international financings, including high-yield, acquisition finance, transportation finance, pre-IPO investments and restructurings.

The promotions take effect from 1st January 2019 and include lawyers from 12 of the firm’s global practices in 15 locations.

Global firm adopts contract technology solution
Allen & Overy will roll-out an end-to-end automated contract solution across its global network.

The Avvoka platform was founded by former lawyers David Howorth and Eliot Benzecrit and joined Allen & Overy’s Fuse tech innovation space in 2017 for further development alongside the firm’s lawyers.

“Document automation and collaboration technologies are not new to the legal industry but Avvoka have looked at the challenges faced by lawyers and their clients and have designed a product that manages the contract lifecycle in a holistic way,” commented Kevin Oliver, head of advanced delivery for technology at A&O.