Roundup lawsuits claim the weed killer caused several types of cancer like non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, b-cell lymphoma, leukemia, and others.
Monsanto faces 11,200+ Roundup lawsuits, including one in which the plaintiff received a jury award of $78.5 million in compensatory and punitive damages.
Why are Roundup Lawsuits Being Filed?
Monsanto developed glyphosate in 1970 to kill the weeds and grasses that harm crops. Monsanto marketed the chemical as Roundup Weed Killer, and by 2007 it became the most used herbicide in the United States. An estimated 1.4 billion pounds of Roundup are used in more than 160 countries each year.
Roundup has increased in popularity since Monsanto introduced seeds for genetically modified organisms (GMO) resistant to glyphosate, allowing farmers to spray the product everywhere without worrying about killing crops. Roundup Ready crops, as they are called, include plants like corn, soybean, and cotton, and they account for over 270 million pounds of crops each year.
Despite its widespread use, the popular weedkiller has been called into question as a possible health hazard within the past several years. Thousands of Roundup users have filed lawsuits alleging that they have developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, b-cell lymphoma, leukemia, or other forms of cancer after using the product.
Types of Blood Cancer Claimed in Roundup Lawsuits
- Anaplastic Large T-Cell Lymphoma
- Follicular B-Cell Lymphoma
- Mediastinal B-Cell Lymphoma
- Large B-Cell Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL)
- Mantle Cell Lymphoma
- High Grade Mature B-Cell Lymphoma
- Hairy Cell Leukemia
- Acute T-Cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma
- Thymic Lymphoma
- Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
Does Roundup Cause Cancer?
There has been a lot of debate around the dangers of Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer. Conflicting studies have been released, and Monsanto representatives argue that most studies have not found a cancer risk from glyphosate exposure.
However, a 2015 assessment of glyphosate released by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) looked at the safety of five pesticides on the market in an attempt to see if they could be considered carcinogenic. Through their investigation, the IARC labeled glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans” (Group 2A). This category is used for substances that the IARC believes has sufficient enough to indicate a likelihood that the substance can cause cancer, but the evidence is not yet entirely conclusive.
Representatives of the IARC have stood by their evaluation, even speaking out as recently as February 2018 to defend their findings. The agency said the monograph is a crucial first step for further research into glyphosate and other pesticides to better determine carcinogenicity and what levels of exposure specifically can be linked to these various types of cancer.
Separately, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) originally stated back in 1995 that glyphosate should be labeled as a probable human carcinogen. In recent years, however, the agency has changed its mind and argued that glyphosate is not carcinogenic and actually has low toxicity for humans, as long as it is used according to the label directions. In its most recent drafted assessment released in December 2017, the EPA went further to say that the pesticide showed virtually no toxicity to animals, including birds, that encounter glyphosate in the natural environment. The EPA’s final assessment on glyphosate is due in 2019.
Given the disparity in studies, it is still unclear to what degree glyphosate may affect human health or a person’s risk of cancer.
Potential Monsanto Collusion
According to Bayer’s 2018 Annual Report, approximately 11,200 cancer patients and their families have filed lawsuits against Monsanto, claiming the company has been aware of the potential dangers of glyphosate and failed to properly warn consumers. Nonetheless, Monsanto and Bayer refute these claims.
In one recent Monsanto lawsuit, unsealed documents and emails emerged suggesting Monsanto had ghostwritten several scientific studies to help ensure that glyphosate was found to be safe to use in the EPA’s evaluation of the widely used herbicide, a claim the company publicly denies. Roundup cancer lawyers claim that company executives worked with a former EPA employee to refute claims that glyphosate was dangerous and tried to squash an investigation of the pesticide. Monsanto allegedly received notice of the herbicide’s evaluation months before it was made public, allowing them to prepare for a public relations attack against studies supporting a cancer link.
Roundup Settlements and Verdicts
Monsanto faces thousands of lawsuits as a result of its Roundup cancer-causing ingredients. A Roundup class action lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court against Monsanto, claiming its advertising falsely stated that Roundup products were safe to use. The class action suit also claims the company deliberately falsified documents and concealed information that glyphosate is dangerous to humans and environmental health.
Roundup Multidistrict Litigation (MDL 2741)
Due to the growing number of lawsuits against Roundup, federal multidistrict litigation has been consolidated under MDL No. 2741 under U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in the Northern District of California. There are over 624 lawsuits pending under the multidistrict litigation, with the next case set for trial in February 2019.
Featured Roundup Lawsuit: Dewayne Johnson
Plaintiff Dewayne Johnson is a former school groundskeeper for a California county school system who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after years of using Roundup weed-killer and other glyphosate-based herbicides. According to Johnson, he used the product as many as 30 times per year, and on at least two occasions spilled a substantial amount of the chemical on his body.
In January 2016, Johnson filed a Roundup lawsuit against Monsanto, claiming that his use of Roundup contributed significantly to the development of his cancer. Because he was diagnosed with terminal cancer, California state law allowed Johnson to seek a fast-track lawsuit – though, the case still took nearly two and a half years to reach a jury trial. He built his case around the classification of glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and the fact that not enough testing has been done on Roundup’s formulation, which includes other chemicals in addition to glyphosate.
On August 10, 2018, the San Francisco jury returned with a verdict that awarded Mr. Johnson $289 million ($39 million in compensatory damages and $250 million in punitive damages) in his Roundup case. Monsanto appealed, asking for a new trial. However, in October 2018, a judge ruled against Monsanto, and the final amount awarded to Mr. Johnson and his family was $78.5 million.
Edwin Hardeman v Monsanto
Another early trial involved 70-year-old Edwin Hardeman, who used Roundup from the 1980s through 2015, when he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Hardeman filed his lawsuit in 2016, claiming that Monsanto ignored and withheld evidence of Roundup’s link to cancer. The company also failed to warn consumers of the potential hazards of the weedkiller, according to Hardeman’s legal complaint.
In March 2019, a San Francisco jury decided unanimously in favor of Hardeman, confirming that Roundup was a “substantial factor” contributing to Hardeman’s lymphoma diagnosis. About a week after the verdict, the jury awarded $80 million to Hardeman in the damages phase of the trial, finding that Monsanto had filed to warn him and other consumers about the potential dangers of the Roundup formula.
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Randy L. Gori received his J.D. with honors from the St. Louis University School of Law, and is licensed to practice law in several U.S. District Courts. Mr. Gori is an accomplished trial attorney who is currently involved in Roundup cases across the United States. He is dedicated to representing victims in their pursuit of claims against Monsanto.
Featured image is from ConsumerSafety