Monsanto Roundup Lawsuit and Complications
Experts have found that one of the components of a widely used chemical weed killer, Roundup, can have a disastrous effect on one’s life. Research has determined that one of the components of the weed killer, glyphosate, is a possible human carcinogen. Those who have used Roundup in their gardens at home or while performing their professional duties as a landscaper, farmer, or agricultural worker may have an increased risk of cancer due to exposure to glyphosate (a substance that is so likely to cause cancer it has been banned in most countries). Across the United States, people who have been diagnosed with cancer as a result of exposure to Roundup or glyphosate herbicide are making the decision to file a Roundup lawsuit.
What is Roundup?
In the 1970s, the Monsanto Corporation first began marketing Roundup as a cheap and effective method of weed control. It is very a very popular all-purpose weed killer, owing its popularity to its efficacy at killing plants that agricultural workers and farmers believe to be invasive. By 2001, Roundup was the most used weed killer in American agriculture, with approximately 85 to 90 million pounds used each year. That number reached 185 million pounds by 2007, and it still remains the most widely used herbicide in the United States and globally.
Since entering the market, Monsanto has insisted in public that Roundup is not a carcinogen. However, research shows that Monsanto has known for decades that Roundup weed killer is a human carcinogenic, but allegedly buried the risks so it would not impact sales of the herbicide on the global consumer and commercial market. In March 2015, the active ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, was identified as a probable carcinogen by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer, better known as IARC. This research convinced many countries, such as France and Germany, to make it illegal for Roundup to be sold within their borders.
Despite the fact that it cannot be sold in many countries, agrochemical giant Monsanto (now owned by Bayer) continues to market Roundup in the United States, and an amount in excess of one billion pounds being sold every year. Many people may have been exposed to the potentially deadly chemical glyphosate, which increases the risk for development of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The crisis is exacerbated due to the variety of different ways and places that Roundup is used. Certain herbicides are only used in an agricultural setting, so a person who does not work with such chemicals in a professional setting can easily avoid exposure. Unfortunately, this is not true with Roundup, which is directly marketed to consumers as well as to commercial farmers, and as a result, is commonly used in home gardens.
How Are People Exposed to Roundup?
Roundup weed killer is so pervasive in homes and farms around the globe that any individual can easily be exposed to it. Exposure to Roundup or other herbicides containing glyphosate most commonly occurs by:
• Breathing in air near an area that is sprayed;
• Touching plants that are sprayed;
• Drinking from a water supply that is contaminated; and
• Eating food that is grown in treated soil.
You are at risk of exposure to glyphosate whether you live in a rural area, city, or suburb.
Does Roundup Cause Cancer?
Numerous scientific studies have shown a causal relationship between exposure to Roundup weed killer or glyphosate and an increased risk of different types of cancer, including chronic lymphocytic leukemia, hairy cell leukemia, and Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (this type of cancer effecting the lymphatic system is most commonly associated with Roundup lawsuits). There is also evidence that Roundup’s inert ingredients amplified the toxic effects of glyphosate and caused other serious health conditions. For example, one French research team discovered that exposure to Roundup may cause digestive problems and interfere with hormone production vital to healthy pregnancies.
People who are afflicted with cancers caused by glyphosate face a variety of uncomfortable and painful common symptoms, which may make it difficult or impossible for them to complete common tasks. Typical symptoms include fatigue and fever, bruising, coughing, chest pain and trouble breathing, sweating during the night, and inexplicable loss of weight. If you have been experiencing these or similar symptoms, it is important to see a qualified medical provider at your earliest possible convenience.
What Is a Roundup Lawsuit?
While Monsanto still insists that Roundup is not carcinogenic, people who have been exposed to the herbicide and later developed cancer have been awarded damages by the courts. The Superior Court of California awarded a school groundskeeper a large sum of money in August 2018. The plaintiff in this case was exposed to Roundup during the course of his professional duties as a groundskeeper, which damaged his cells and caused him to develop terminal cancer. The court found that there was enough evidence to support the claim that Roundup caused the illness of the groundskeeper and that Monsanto was aware of the potential risk to the groundskeeper if he used the product. To compensate him for the damages he incurred due to his exposure to Roundup, the court awarded him an amount in excess of $200 million.
It is important to note that not every person exposed to Roundup will qualify to bring an action against Monsanto for damages as a result of a Monsanto Roundup lawsuit. However, if a person developed a certain variety of cancer in the wake of exposure to Roundup, it is possible they may qualify to bring a claim under a products liability or negligence theory. If your loved one has died due to Roundup weedkiller, then under certain circumstances, you may be able to bring a lawsuit alleging wrongful death. Those who suspect they may have a case should consider contacting an attorney with experience in this particular and highly specialized body of toxic tort law.
For some individuals, the best opportunity to recover damages for the harm that they have suffered as a consequence of exposure to Roundup will come in the form of filing a Roundup lawsuit. To find out more about how to file a Monsanto lawsuit contact a qualified legal team.
Monsanto has faced numerous lawsuits seeking to hold it accountable for the alleged link between Roundup and cancer. As mentioned above, a California jury found Monsanto liable for a man’s cancer and assessed a large jury verdict of $289 million against the company, based on their liability. These damages were in the form of punitive damages against Monsanto based on its corporate misconduct. As what happens in many large jury verdicts, the company is able to appeal the verdict to the trial judge who can either set aside the verdict or reduce it. The trial judge left the finding of liability intact, although the judge did lower the amount of punitive damages from $289 million to $39 million and the overall verdict to $78 million. In other words, the legal finding that Monsanto did something wrong and should be punished still stands, but the amount that they have to pay the plaintiff has been reduced. Even though the verdict against it had been reduced, Monsanto had indicated an intent to appeal the verdict to overturn the amended verdict against it. The company stated that it disagreed with the scientific evidence that was presented at trial that was part of the basis for the jury verdict against Monsanto. Nonetheless, it is anticipated that the verdict against Monsanto will open the floodgates for more future claims against the company by plaintiffs who believe that the use of Roundup was the cause of their cancer.
There are currently many additional cases against Monsanto that are pending in federal court in San Francisco. There is one case that is scheduled to go to trial in February 2019. This case has also been brought by a plaintiff who similarly claimed that Roundup caused their cancer.
The judge in this case recently issued a key ruling in the case that may impact Monsanto at the damages phase of the trial. The judge ruled that evidence of Monsanto’s corporate misconduct could be admitted in the consideration of the verdict if Monsanto is found liable for the plaintiff’s cancer. Even more important, the judge ruled that some particular pieces of evidence of Monsanto’s corporate misconduct could be placed in front of the jury during the first phase of the trial.
Beyond the question of whether Roundup can cause cancer, internal communications and documents detail how Monsanto handled the potential linkage. Rather than legitimately considering how a possible linkage should impact whether this product should be on the market at all, Monsanto attempted to influence the discussion of any possible linkage between Roundup and cancer in favor of the conclusion that this product is safe. The company acted as a ghostwriter for scientific studies that denied that there was any connection between the product and cancer. Further misbehavior included attempting to influence the findings of scientists and regulators. The judge said that anything that shows that Monsanto attempted to influence the position of scientists are “super relevant” in terms of trial. Judges are usually required to rule on any evidentiary disputes in advance of trial so it can be decided what each side can place in front of the jury. There are other documents, such as internal Monsanto communications that discuss the company’s lobbying efforts that must wait for the damages phase of the trial, should there be a verdict of liability.
There are over 600 cases relating to Roundup and cancer that are in front of this particular judge. There are a total of over 9,000 cases pending against Monsanto pertaining to Roundup. Needless to say, Bayer, the parent company of Monsanto, has quite a bit at stake with these next trials and the judge’s recent ruling was a blow to the company.
One of the potential issues at trial centers on what it takes to prove that Roundup causes cancer. When there is any trial that relates to products liability, the plaintiff must meet the element of proving causation. In other words, it must be shown that there is a connection between the use of the product and the injury that has been suffered by the plaintiff. The plaintiffs are not required to prove that Roundup was the sole cause of the plaintiff’s lymphoma. Instead, they need only demonstrate a connection between the cancer and the use of the product. Although the jury in the first case reached that conclusion, it is not guaranteed that subsequent juries will reach the same result.
There is definitely a wealth of science that supports the fact that there is a connection between Roundup and lymphoma. However, there are studies on the other side of the equation that claim that Roundup is safe for human use, notwithstanding the fact that some of these studies were advanced and funded by Monsanto.
One of the bedrock studies for plaintiffs who are filing suit against Monsanto is a 2015 study that was issued by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. This study concluded that these type of weed killers were “probably” carcinogenic. The IARC study was based off of both studies of humans as well as animals. There was some evidence of glyphosates causing cancer in humans and even more connection when it comes to animals.
However, a 2018 Agricultural Health Study looked at 50,000 people over a ten year period and concluded that there was a minimal risk of cancer from usage of glyphosates. Nonetheless, the study did not completely rule out a connection between glyphosates and cancer. Still, the end result of this report was that the finding was glyphosates were not statistically significantly associated with cancer.
Even if the Agricultural Health Study was correct and much of the other prevailing research was not, there is still room to accept the fact that some cancers can be caused by glyphosates. Nonetheless, if there was no merit to studies such as the IARC study, then Monsanto would have no need to attempt to heavily influence the results of scientific studies. It would also be useless for Monsanto to attempt to lobby regulators regarding their findings because they would have no need to worry about any connection between Roundup and cancer because there would be none.
Cancer is not the only complication that is linked to the use of Roundup. There is a long list of health problems that have been linked in some way with this product. One of the major issues connected to Roundup is birth defects. Studies have shown that women who live within one mile of fields that have been sprayed with Roundup have a higher risk of having a baby with a birth defect. One particular province in Argentina saw a quadrupling of birth defects shortly after Roundup became available in the area. In addition, there is also a possible link between glyphosates and autism. Environmental toxins have been shown to be a risk factor for autism. According to a study published in the Journal of Molecular and Genetic Medicine, glyphosates cause a direct molecular disruption with regard to calcium regulatory factors for neurons. Products such as Roundup do not just directly cause health issues for the human body, its usage near food crops can also cause further damage to the human body. One study claimed that nearly half of U.S. children could be autistic by 2025 due to Roundup’s use in the food supply. While this study was only minimally supported, it is likely that the usage of a product with such a heavy chemical content can have damages that may outweigh its benefits.