It’s been a tough year for Monsanto, largely due to legal developments stemming from their product Roundup. A ruling from a federal judge and a major verdict for a San Francisco groundskeeper have given hope to people suffering from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that the company can be held accountable for the injuries caused by the popular herbicide.
Let’s look at these developments and what they mean for those taking legal action against Monsanto.
A Federal Judge Gives the Green Light to Lawsuits
Earlier in 2018, hundreds of lawsuits filed in state and federal court against agrochemical maker Monsanto were allowed to move forward following a ruling from a federal judge. The lawsuits claim the active ingredient in Roundup, manufactured by Monsanto, have been linked to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The lawsuits not only claim there’s a link between Roundup and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma but that the company was aware of the link and covered up the risks.
United States District Judge Vince Chhabria said that expert testimony that links glyphosate with the illness has credibility and may be heard in court. The ruling means that Monsanto’s effort to get the lawsuits dismissed, due to what the company called “shaky” science, has failed. Monsanto had claimed that the science and expert testimony linking glyphosate to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was not credible.
A $289 Million Verdict Against Monsanto
In August 2018, a San Francisco jury awarded $289 million in damages to Dewayne Johnson, a groundskeeper that had been using Roundup for years. Johnson was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2014. His case was the first to go to trial because of the severity of his condition, but it set a precedent signaling that more lawsuits on behalf of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma sufferers could find success in the courtroom.
While Johnson’s award was later reduced to $78 million due to efforts by Monsanto’s legal team, the result is no less encouraging for the thousands of people awaiting their day in court against the agrochemical giant.
What is Glyphosate?
Glyphosate has been used in Roundup for over four decades, and it is currently sold in over 160 countries. It is used in large agricultural operations and on residential lawns and gardens. Red flags were first raised about the herbicide in 2015 when the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a part of the World Health Organization, called the product a “probable human carcinogen.” This initiated a multitude of lawsuits against Monsanto. It eventually led to California’s adding glyphosate to its list of cancer-causing chemicals. Monsanto has long denied the link between glyphosate and cancer and cites hundreds of studies that says the chemical is safe. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says Roundup is safe “when used in accordance with label directions.”
The court order allowing lawsuits to move forward concluded as follows:
“Therefore, the plaintiffs have presented evidence from which a reasonable jury could conclude that glyphosate can cause NHL at human-relevant doses. Monsanto’s motion for summary judgment is denied.”
Moving Forward Against Monsanto
The ruling from the San Francisco judge and the jury verdict for the San Francisco groundskeeper represent good news for those who have been pursuing claims against Monsanto, including employees, farmers, landscapers, and those who have used Roundup and have developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It also helps substantiate reasons why those considering legal action against the company should step forward.
Monsanto was recently acquired by Bayer, a German company, in a $66 billion merger. Bayer apparently has no plans to use the name Monsanto on its products. The brand has been damaged by those supporting environmental and health issues.
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