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July 2017

Gordon & Rees Attorneys Successful at Trial involving Birth Defects Allegedly Caused by Strawberry Harvesters’ Pesticide Exposures

Southern California partner Brian Ledger and senior counsel Glen Powell successfully defended a strawberry commission merchant in a 10 week toxic tort trial in Ventura County, with senior counsel Elizabeth Vanalek and paralegal Rafer Weaver also providing valuable contributing efforts during trial.

The plaintiff was born with multiple physical and mental birth defects allegedly resulting from his mother’s exposure to pesticides while working in strawberry fields during her pregnancy. The plaintiff sought damages of $23 million. This case was subject to daily media scrutiny and was prosecuted by three plaintiff’s law firms from Los Angeles, New York, and Boston specializing in birth defect cases arising from toxic exposure.

The Gordon & Rees team successfully argued that pesticide use reports reflecting the use of specific pesticides at the strawberry fields were untrustworthy and could not be relied upon by the plaintiff’s expert witnesses for causation opinions. This ruling led to the court’s exclusion of the plaintiff’s medical experts’ primary causation opinions.  Further, the Gordon & Rees team was able to obtain a court ruling with a very favorable interpretation of our client’s agreement concerning involvement at the farm, and procured strong testimony from client representatives showing a lack of a legal duty as to the alleged exposures.

Following these favorable rulings, and just before the beginning of deliberations, the plaintiff agreed to a settlement with Gordon & Rees’ client for a small fraction of its prior demands.

Brian M. Ledger
Glen R. Powell