'No mountain too large' for Paducah native who helped battle Monsanto


A Paducah native played a pivotal role in the recent federal court victory against Monsanto.

Jennifer Moore of Paducah and co-counsel Aimee Wagstaff represented plaintiff Edwin Hardeman in the case against the agrochemical giant. A San Francisco jury unanimously held in March that the herbicide Roundup had caused Hardeman's non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and Hardeman was awarded more than $80 million in damages.

"Our client took on one of the largest corporations in the world, and fought for (more than) three years to have his day in court. This was truly a David versus Goliath situation," Moore said in a phone interview with the Sun.

She added it was the first federal court trial of lawsuits brought by thousands of cancer patients against Monsanto, as well as the largest verdict a female lawyer from Kentucky has ever won.

"It was a major victory for plaintiffs everywhere," Moore said.

This type of case isn't new for Moore. A graduate of Lone Oak High School who earned her law degree from the University of Kentucky School of Law in 1998, Moore has built her Louisville-based practice on representing people who've suffered due to corporate wrongdoing.

"No one would ever choose to risk getting cancer over trying to get rid of some weeds. I fight every day to give a voice to people like Mr. Hardeman, because it was not right, what happened to him," she said.

That's why the prospect of taking on a corporation like Monsanto didn't faze her, she added.

"It was an honor and a privilege to represent Mr. Hardeman, and when you're on the side of justice, no mountain is too large to climb," Moore said.

The attorney said she found her calling early in life.

"When I was a little girl, I was inspired to attend law school to make a difference, and that's what I do now," Moore said. "I was heavily influenced by very strong women in my family, and by my parents (Phyllis and John Moore), who always encouraged me and told me that I could do anything I set my mind to."

It helped, she added, to grow up watching women in political positions, including Paducah's mayor and one of Kentucky's state senators.

The recent victory, although major, didn't surprise Moore's local friends and family.

"She's fearless, and I'm just so proud of her," said Martha Emmons, an alumna of Emerge Kentucky, which Moore founded. "Only a few people in the world are going to win this kind of victory. I think that it shows how good she is at thinking outside the box."

Added aunt Nancy Waldrop: "We knew the client was in good hands from the very outset of the trial. Jennifer is as compassionate person, and one (who's) always done her homework."

Waldrop said the large, extended family surrounding Moore during her childhood always had high expectations for all its children, regardless of their gender.

"Everybody was expected to do something important," Waldrop said.

Moore took that message to heart: In addition to holding down her women-led law practice, she also founded and still volunteers as board chair of Emerge Kentucky, an affiliate of the Emerge America program that prepares women to run for office.

The attorney says that, as women make up a little more than half of the population, it's common sense that they should serve in a representative democracy. That's what led her to start Emerge Kentucky, which is now in its 10th year.

"It's important not only for little girls, but also for little boys to see women in those positions of power," she said. "It makes you realize you can attain anything you set your mind to."

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