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ARTICLE ID 49991

- NEGLIGENCE - TOXIC TORT - BIRTH DEFECTS - MITRAL VALVE PROLAPSE - DERMATOLOGIC DEFECTS - NEUROLOGICAL INJURIES.

Santa Cruz County, California

The plaintiffs alleged in utero and post-partum exposure to lead and inorganic arsenic led to a variety of birth defects and other injuries including cardiac, neurological and dermatological problems. The defendant Chevron alleged that none of the plaintiffs’ injuries were related to exposures to lead or arsenic and there was no medical causation.

The four bellwether plaintiffs were chosen from more than ________ plaintiffs who allege that they were injuriously exposed, in utero, as children and as adults to lead and inorganic arsenic from a lead arsenate pesticide manufacturing facility that operated in downtown Watsonville, California, called California Spray Chemical Company or Cal Spray. The facility produced large quantities of lead arsenate, a pesticide composed of lead and inorganic arsenic. Lead Arsenate was superseded by the next generation of synthetic pesticides after World War II. The facility operated from ________ through ________ and produced an enormous amount of pesticide during this time frame. The facility assets were purchased by the defendant Chevron in ________.

The site was used as warehousing space for pesticides and then occupied by other businesses who were not involved in pesticides.

The bellwether plaintiffs alleged various toxic tort injuries against the defendant. Plaintiff Valverde is a 50-year- old male that alleged he was exposed both in utero and while a child residing in property adjacent to the defendant’s facility. He alleged premature birth, pediatric convulsions, adult-onset disabling right side pain which causes his right arm to be immobilized, gall bladder disease, liver disease, reflex sympathetic dystrophy and hypertension. This plaintiff alleged he has limited mobility and ambulates using a motorized scooter. He also alleged an increased risk of cancer.

The second plaintiff is a 37-year-old female who alleged in utero exposure as a result of her mother visiting her grandparents’ home near the defendant’s site and exposure as a young child when visiting the same grandparents’ home. This plaintiff alleged neurological and cognitive problems including ADHD and arsenical hyperpigmentation of her skin. In addition, she alleged an increased future risk for developing cancer.

The third plaintiff is a 47-year-old female who alleged in utero exposure as a result of her mother residing at her grandmother’s home which was adjacent to the manufacturing facility. This plaintiff alleged she was born with a malformed uterus which is associated with post-pubertal menstrual dysfunction, hydrosalpinx, inability to conceive and increased incidence of endometriosis. She also developed mitral valve prolapse disorder and arsenical skin keratoma. She also alleged a decreased heart rate variability which she alleged is a marker of autonomic nervous system which can lead to sudden cardiac death.

The fourth plaintiff is a 47-year-old male who claimed adult exposure to lead and arsenic. He claimed cognitive deficits as result of living near the manufacturing site from ________ through ________.

In May ________ over ________ plaintiffs filed suit against the defendant alleging nuisance, trespass, negligent misrepresentation, fraud, fraudulent concealment, ultra- hazardous liability and negligence. The plaintiffs obtained an order that the defendant was collaterally estopped on issues of the defendant’s negligence disputing that the defendant was not the successor in interest. The court later ruled that the defendant’s negligence was limited to the facts relating to lead and arsenic migrating off the manufacturing site to adjacent properties. The fourth plaintiff elected to proceed solely on the theory of trespass and his case was dismissed on the defendant’s motion for non-suit.

The defendant, per court order, was limited to medical causation only. The defendant asserted that none of the plaintiffs had toxicologically significant exposures to lead or arsenic from any source and that their claimed adverse health effects were not due to lead or arsenic.

The trial then proceeded only as to the remaining three plaintiffs solely on the theory of negligence. At the conclusion of the four-week trial, the jury returned its verdict in favor of the defendant. The jury specifically found that the plaintiff Reyes was exposed to lead or arsenic from the defendant’s lead arsenate operations but the exposure was not a substantial cause of her harm; that plaintiff Guerrero was not exposed to lead or arsenic; and the third plaintiff was exposed to lead or arsenic from the defendant’s operations but the exposure was not a substantial cause of his harm.

No post trial motions or notices of appeal have been filed to date.

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