Monsanto, manufacturer of the well known herbicide Roundup, has lost a third court case against it. This time, the amount the company has been ordered to pay to a Californian couple is over 2 billion dollars, easily the largest of the three penalties awarded in the last eight months.
The case was heard in the California state court in Oakland. The plaintiffs, Alberta and Alva Pilliod, alleged that the prolonged use of Roundup on their property had caused non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of cancer, usually terminal.
Roundup is Monsanto’s brand name for the chemical glyphosate, an effective weedkiller. It is marketed and used all round the world for agricultural, commercial and household purposes. There has been concern for a long time over glyphosate’s safety record. The most damaging report about glyphosate was by the World Health Organisation (WHO), in 2015, which stated that “glyphosate is probably carcinogenic to humans.” Following the release of the WHO report, there was an explosion of claims brought against Monsanto, which is now owned by the German chemical corporation, Bayer.
The Pilliod decision is the third so far – thousands more cases to be heard
The Oakland decision was the third in 8 months in which Monsanto lost and was ordered to pay plaintiffs millions of dollars in compensation. Like the most recent case, Bayer has announced that it will appeal each of the decisions, citing evidence contrary to that brought forward by plaintiffs so far.
The first of the many thousands of cases to be filed in state courts all over the U.S. was hurried up because of the near terminal condition of the plaintiff. Dewayne Johnson, a former school groundsman, developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma and alleged in his action against Monsanto that it was caused by exposure to Roundup over a long period of time as part of his job. He was awarded $289 million in August last year in a California court, although this was reduced to $78 million later. In fact, Johnson has seen very little of the money awarded, as Bayer has contested the court’s decision.
The second case was heard in a federal court in San Francisco in March this year. Edwin Hardiman brought an action against Monsanto as part of a multi-district litigation (MDL). Unlike a class action, plaintiffs in a MDL are all heard separately, although pre-trial proceedings are usually consolidated. The federal jury came to a unanimous conclusion that Hardiman’s non-Hodgkin lymphoma was caused by using Roundup.
State courts have been favored by plaintiffs so far, as it has generally been the case that actions filed with state courts are likely to be heard before federal ones.
Bayer claims that glyphosate is safe
Bayer, which paid $68 billion for Monsanto last year, claims that glyphosate is still safe, despite the spate of actions now waiting to be heard in both state and federal courts. Bayer cites the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) own view of glyphosate, which is that it is safe to use as long as it is used as directed and is not a carcinogen. The EPA repeated this statement about glyphosate last month after the Hardiman case had been heard.
Bayer claims that plaintiffs have over relied on the 2015 WHO report for their actions against Monsanto and says that appeals will reveal the truth about glyphosate being safe. They say that apart from the EPA, regulators around the world have all stated that glyphosate is safe to use and that there are no scientific studies which conclusively prove that the chemical causes cancer.
Attorneys for the Pilliods have reported that Monsanto may have attempted to influence the EPA, the media and regulators around the world through the manipulation of scientific facts, gift giving and other favors. The attorneys say that jurors at the Oakland trial were shown a “mountain “ of evidence showing communication by email and text between the company and EPA officials which reveal the level of influence that the company was attempting to use. Not surprisingly, perhaps, Bayer has refuted these allegations.
Doubts about Roundup’s safety starting to feed through to the community
While attorneys all over the U.S. and many other countries are watching the progress of the court cases against Monsanto closely, some in the community are starting to take pre-emptive evasive action. The Public Interest Research group (PIRG), a body that has been active in a campaign to get Roundup banned, has reported that local government ordinances all over the country have started prohibiting the use of the product on their properties. Miami is apparently the latest to ban Roundup in the city and the PIRG thinks that with every case won against Monsanto, the bans will grow in number.
If you have been exposed to Monsanto Roundup weedkiller, contact Keith Williams Law Group today.