LOS ANGELES (July 2017) – In a carefully watched case, a Ventura County Superior Court jury rejected a $23 million demand following a contentious 10-week toxic tort trial, determining that three companies were not liable for a boy’s birth defects after his mother claimed she was exposed to pesticides. Tyson & Mendes’ Los Angeles partner Kevin Place and San Diego associate Kathryn Lee defended the trial along with three other defendants against a minor plaintiff – represented by Waters Kraus & Paul – who alleged in-utero exposure to toxic chemicals had resulted in permanent disabilities.
The plaintiff’s claims totaled $23 million and included future medical bills, a life care plan, future loss of income and past and future pain and suffering. The jury return a defense verdict in favor of Tyson & Mendes’ client Ramco Enterprise as well as Soilfume Inc., which operated the farm in 2007; and T.T. Miyasaka Inc., half owner of Soilfume.
Ultimately, the jurors determined the three companies were not liable for the serious craniofacial birth defects sustained by plaintiff, now nine years old. The lawsuit filed on behalf of the child claimed he was damaged during a critical period of fetal development because his mother, an employee of Ramco Enterprises, was sprayed with dangerous pesticides while working in Ventura County berry fields.
According to Place, his team prevailed by clearly illustrating the implausibility of the plaintiff’s mother’s story, as well as the lack of a causal connection between exposure to the pesticide and plaintiff’s birth defect. “While we felt tremendous compassion for plaintiff, ultimately, there was no evidence supporting his claims – effectively diffusing potential juror emotion in the face of plaintiff’s significant disabilities,” Place said.
Added Tyson & Mendes Managing Partner Robert Tyson, “Kevin and his team succeeded by employing our firm’s core techniques of accepting responsibility, giving a defense number, and personalizing the corporate defendant.”