In 1997, San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Joseph Bergeron dismissed the case, saying that residents hadn't proved a direct link between their illnesses and the chemicals in the soil.
The residents appealed.
In a Jan. 28 ruling, San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Joseph Bergeron approved Nelson's motion to strike punitive damages, stating, "There are insufficient allegations to show that defendant acted intentionally to harm the plaintiffs, or that he engaged in despicable conduct with a willful and conscious disregard of the rights or safety of others."
San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Joseph Bergeron erred in telling jurors "undue influence exists where a defendant (takes) an unfair advantage of another's weakness of mind" as they prepared to consider Ronald Leon Brock's case.
San Mateo County prosecutor Melissa McKowan had to persuade Bergeron to let her redefine for the jury what a theft is under state law.
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