The US constitution affords every citizen a right to have their disputes heard by a jury of their peers. When taking on a monster like Monsanto this is fantastic for someone like Lee Johnson.Some states have caps on damages or other so called “tort reforms” built on the campaign contributions of large corporations. California remains a pretty fair place to have a trial. Unfortunately, today the trial court tentatively ruled in favor of Monsanto taking away the punitive damage award totaling 250$ million. The decision is puzzling because she was asked the same relief many times including at the close of evidence and had held that there was sufficient evidence for a punitive damage award. The ruling is simply tentative and the Court may change its mind. Lee was also awarded a 39$illiom compensatory award by the jury. Both sides will battle on in appellate courts for years unfortunately, but this bell cannot be unrung. The average American has spoken and said it is NOT OK for a company to sell carcinogens to the public while keeping the risk secret, in the interest of profits. Lee has already changed the world. His case has brought international attention to the regulation of this poison and how it is on most foods we eat. His former school district recently announced they would discontinue use. One day when I am in a position to do so, I plan to offer to erect a statue honoring Lee on the school grounds. He stood up to Monsanto first, alone except for his lawyers, and never flinched. His bravery will save many lives. In the meantime I and other colleagues will take Monsanto to trial again and again, hopefully for many years. Thousands more deserve a jury verdict.
Let’s all hope the Court’s final ruling differs from its tentative. Lee has been through hell and back and it is time for Monsanto to pay him.