In my last post I recounted that I’d begun reading the 65 admissions I’d received from codefendant Pine Island Farms, in the Castillo-DuPont case (I was representing the Castillo family).
Both defendants became aware of the damage my reading of the admissions and denials was doing. In fact, it had become excruciatingly clear to them that these denials would have a catastrophic impact on their case. Pine Island Farms was bound by their own denials that any of these products could have possibly come from the tractor Donna described.
That left only Benlate.
When I read that last admission—the 64th out of the 65 I had submitted—I felt as though I had won a major victory on the exposure battle.
There was no doubt in my mind that if the members of the jury believed Donna Castillo had been sprayed that day, there could be no other explanation as to what the substance in the spray was except Benlate. One by one, I had knocked out every other possibility.
While no one from the defendants’ side could object, you can bet they quickly asked Judge Donner for a sidebar. “Judge, that’s not fair,” said Greg Gaebe, one of the defense attorneys. “Mr. Ferraro served 65 requests for admissions to the farm, and he read only 64.” Gaebe pleaded with the judge, sounding more like a sniveling schoolboy than seasoned trial lawyer.
“Judge, we just spent the last two days putting multiple witnesses on the stand and placing into evidence all sorts of information about Benlate,” I said. “I am under no legal obligation to read their denial—or their admission, for that matter—as evidence in my case,” I stated very emphatically.
“But that’s not fair!” Gaebe whined.
“Counsel, whether you think it’s fair or not isn’t the issue. Mr. Ferraro is correct. He doesn’t need to read that 65th response. Unfortunately, counsel, that’s the law,” Judge Donner said as she dismissed us back to our respective corners of the courtroom. In Gaebe’s haste to defend his client, he had freely and carelessly used the word “denied” and ended up accidentally speaking the truth.
“Counsel, if you’re ready, let’s move on to your next witness,” the judge said to me.
In my next post, I begin to recount the battle of science I had to wage with DuPont.
You’ll find more details, as well as a full narrative of the preparations for the case and the trial itself, in my book, Blindsided, from which this post is adapted.