For those of you that have seen the movie on prime, The Burial, you will recall that the lead attorney, played by Jamie Fox, originally did not want the case. It was a contract law case and was asking for $3 Million for damages at best. Under contract law the plaintiff can only get damages that makes him whole again – puts him back where he was prior to the contract damaged him.
However, in the true case, the plaintiff was able to sue under Contract Interference, bringing the case under Tort law. Tort law is an area of law where the two parties are acting outside of a contract. The kicker is that under Tort law, a jury may compensate the plaintiff Punitive Damages, above the actual damages.
In the above case, the jury did just that. Based on how angry the jury is, they are allowed to as much as they want, up to a limit. That limit is one Dollar less than the amount that makes the defendant insolvent. In the Burial case, that amount was half a $Billion.
In 1984, John Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company lost itself in a Contract Interference case as well, as the jury was that angered by Standard’s actions.
Yesterday we saw this post: Philadelphia court orders Bayer to pay $2.25B to man who developed cancer after exposure to Roundup weed killer. Roundup was created by Monsanto and was labeled as Agent Orange by the Army in Vietnam. After the war the Government fought all those dying from the chemical, that was dumped from aircraft to kill vegetation around military posts during that war. Only after most of the troops were dead did the Government agree to pay for treatment.
When the lawsuits got heavy Monsanto sold that product line to Bayer. I feel sure there were guarantees by Monsanto backing Bayer for what happened yesterday. But as the headline implies, the Jury was certainly peeved. By the way, this judgment now opens the way for class actions against Bayer.
This case must send shivers down the non-legal employees and investors in the pharmaceutical industry that are poisoning customers today. It only takes one plaintiff to take down a giant.