Several plaintiffs have joined in a class action product liability lawsuit earlier this year against Monsanto, the maker of the popular weedkiller Roundup, alleging exposure to the product caused non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Allegations also claim while exposure resulted in some becoming ill, others died from the disease. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri on behalf of 45 different users of the product, as well as some spouses or surviving family members. Each one of the claims within the lawsuit allege that Monsanto was aware – for decades – about the increased risk of cancer associated with exposure to the glyphosate-based herbicide but withheld warnings and information from the public.
Concerns Get Widespread Attention
Worries about the risks of illnesses due to exposure gained attention across the globe after the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) declared the chemical used in Roundup – glyphosate – as well as other weedkillers was a likely carcinogen. This announcement caused widespread concerns about why Monsanto failed to provide adequate warnings to consumers and recommended safety precautions for its users. The concerns resulted in hundreds of similar Roundup lawsuits initiated in courts across the nation. The IARC found an increased risk between exposure to the chemical and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, according to the lawsuit. The complaint also alleges that IARC found glyphosate caused DNA and chromosomal harm in human cells.
Several other Roundup cases pending in federal court will be consolidated with the complaint and will be part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL). The MDL is centralized before a federal judge in the Northern District of California in an effort to create judicial economy by avoiding duplicate discovery, preventing conflicting district court rulings, and serving the convenience of the witnesses, parties and the courts. The Roundup cases will be bifurcated – or split in two. The first phase will address the causal link between the popular weedkiller and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (in addition to other forms of cancer). Cases that are not dismissed based on general causation or are not settled during the first phase of discovery will be prepared for early trial dates.
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What is Roundup?
The herbicide glyphosate has been on the market and in use since the 1970s when the manufacturer, Monsanto, first introduced the product as Roundup. Since the 1970s, Roundup has become the most used herbicide on the planet. Research shows that Monsanto engineered crops that are resistant glyphosate. This results in encouraging farmers to heavily spray crops with the herbicide in an attempt to get rid of aggressive weeds. Because the weeds adapt to glyphosate exposure over time farmers, workers, landscapers, and migrant field workers are forced to use more of the product and increase their exposure to the herbicide over time. Since Monsanto’s patent protection for Roundup expired in 2000, causing a number of glyphosate-using competitors for the weedkiller.
RoundUp’s Link to Cancers
A former cancer toxicologist who spent 30 years with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) who left the agency in 2012 lists in an open letter over a dozen manners in which Roundup could cause cancer. She also accused the EPA official in charge of reviewing the product of intimidating staff to change reports in support of Monsanto. According to the letter, Roundup could cause cancer in 14 ways including:
- Glyphosate induces lymphocyte generation;
- Glyphosate causes the formation of free radicals;
- Chelators causes apoptosis, the method by which our bodies kill tumor cells;
- Chelators disrupt endocrines, which is part of tumorigenesis;
- Chelators creates free radical scavenging enzymes;
- Glyphosate is a key cancer mechanism known as genotoxic;
- Chelators bind zinc, which is essential for immune system function;
- Chelators hinder DNA repair enzymes;
- Chelators minerals (Ca, Zn, Mg) making foods deficient of these minerals;
- Chelators bind calcium needed for immune response;
- Chelators damage pancreas and/or kidneys, a mechanism that causes tumors;
- Chelators suppress the immune system, making a person susceptible to tumors;
- Glyphosate kills gut bacteria, which affects the gastrointestinal system; and
- Damage to kidneys and/or pancreas can lead to clinical changes that favor tumor generation.
Product Liability Lawsuits
Product liability is the area of law where a business is sued by a consumer for injuries suffered as a result of a defective product. Theories of recovery under product liability include contract and tort. They often involve negligence or strict liability for the company being sued.
Generally, in order to be successful an injured party must prove fault by establishing the other party was “negligent” and this negligence caused the victim’s harm. Negligence is found when a victim can establish that a party breached a legal duty owed to him or her, causing harm to the person, resulting in damages. Establishing fault is essential in a personal injury case – including a product liability matter – as fault directly determines who is awarded compensatory damages in and who is liable for payment. Negligence is one theory, however, that an injured party in a products liability case may pursue to establish fault and successfully seek monetary compensation.
Even if negligence is not present, the manufacturer or retailer of the product may be held financially responsible under a product liability action through what is referred to as strict liability. In products liability, if an injured victim can establish strict liability if he or she can prove the product was defectively manufactured, defectively designed, or defectively labeled and this defect was the cause of the victim’s injury. An injured victim can sue any business entity in the chain of the product’s distribution, which may be held liable for damages. Some examples of product defects include:
- Defective design – the product’s blueprint is faulty;
- Defective manufacture – the factory did not follow the product’s blueprint properly; and
- Defective warnings – the failure to include proper instructions for safe use or warning labels.
Product defects may occur in the packaging, warning labels, safety features, or as a result of the product being unreasonably dangerous.
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If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and your health issues may be related to exposure to Roundup, contact the experienced dangerous drug attorneys at the Roger Ghai Law Offices. These aggressive and compassionate attorneys will advocate for clients and their loved ones with diligence. Call today to schedule your initial consultation.