Roundup Lawsuit Lawyers
Roundup is a broad-spectrum herbicide manufactured by Monsanto (now 'Bayer'). In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's herbicide Roundup, as a probable human carcinogen. This classification has sparked numerous mass tort and multidistrict litigation (MDL) proceedings around the country.
Recently, the Supreme Court of the United States agreed to hear a petition for certiorari that asks it to review lower federal court decisions that arrived at two different conclusions about the viability of plaintiffs' lawsuits against Bayer (owner of Monsanto) for injuries caused by using Roundup.
MDLs and Mass Torts Against Monsanto
MDLs and mass torts (individual lawsuits outside of an MDL procedure involving numerous claimants) have arisen around the country concerning Roundup. This classification has sparked numerous lawsuits against Monsanto (now Bayer, since Bayer acquired Monsanto a few years ago).
Roundup has been linked to several health problems, including cancer, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL), and multiple myeloma. In addition to these serious health concerns, Roundup has also been shown to cause birth defects in children whose mothers were exposed to it during pregnancy.
The safety and health risks associated with glyphosate have been studied for decades. Studies have found that glyphosate is likely carcinogenic to humans. Specifically, it has been found that glyphosate can increase the risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Despite these risks, Bayer continues to manufacture Roundup. One of the main issues surrounding harm caused by Roundup is that people usually do not develop cancer until years, if not decades, after exposure.
Given these risks, many lawsuits have been filed against Monsanto by consumers. These are usually predicated on a failure to warn theory (i.e., Monsanto did not warn users of the potential risks surrounding the use of Roundup and, specifically, its active ingredient). Since so many individuals have been affected by Roundup, and more will continue to surface as the years go by, mass tort litigation has been used as a tool to streamline cases brought against Monsanto/ Bayer.
To take legal action against Monsanto / Bayer, contact our Roundup attorneys today: (800) 689-8552. We can also be reached online.
Concerning damages, plaintiffs can receive a myriad of remedies, including payments for past and future medical expenses, and compensation for lost wages. Punitive damages have also been awarded in bellwether cases. Anyone who can prove that they used Roundup, that they were later diagnosed with certain types of cancer, and that there is a link between these two facts, may be eligible to receive significant compensation. Compensation may also be available to surviving family members if the person exposed to Roundup died because of cancer or illness.
In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's herbicide Roundup, as a probable human carcinogen, sparking numerous mass tort and multidistrict litigation (MDL) proceedings across the country. Recently, the Supreme Court of the United States agreed to hear a petition for certiorari that asks it to review lower federal court decisions that arrived at two different conclusions about the viability of plaintiffs' lawsuits against Bayer for injuries caused by using Roundup.
Johnson v. Monsanto
The first case against Monsanto for the risks surrounding Roundup, which went to trial, was filed in January of 2016 in California state court (Johnson v. Monsanto). The trial began in June of 2018. This case ended with a $289.25M jury verdict ($39.25M in compensatory damages and $250M in punitive damages for failure to warn), on 8/10/2018. The jury ruled in the plaintiff’s favor on all three theories of liability: failing to adequately warn on the product’s potential dangers (strict liability and negligently failing to warn), and that the product had a design defect. After the verdict, Monsanto filed many post-trial motions and appeals.
Among its tactics, it argued that punitive damages should not have been granted. The verdict was first reduced to $78.5M (punitive damages were reduced) by the trial judge, and later further reduced to $20.5M by a court of appeals. Although a request for review was made before the California Supreme Court, this court rejected any review of the decision on 10/21/2020.
Hardeman v. Monsanto
The first case filed in federal court that went to trial was Hardeman v. Monsanto. This case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, and the presiding judge was Judge Vince Chhabria. This case ended in a jury award of $80M, awarded on 3/27/2019, which was later reduced to $25.2M by Judge Chhabria. This was a bellwether case for thousands of cases filed by plaintiffs in federal court, which were transferred and consolidated in San Francisco’s Federal Court (U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California). This verdict was appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which was denied in May of 2021, confirming the previous verdict. Monsanto appealed this decision before the U.S. Supreme Court in August of 2021.
In their appeal before the Supreme court, Bayer and Monsanto allege that the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) shields it from liability. This law governs the registration, distribution, sale, packaging, and labeling of pesticides, and is administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Given this statute, Bayer and Monsanto argue that failure-to-warn claims are preempted; since the EPA approved their labels with no cancer warning, they allege that these kinds of claims should be barred. They added that the EPA did not allow them to print cancer warnings on their labels, indicating that it would be misbranding if they did. In addition to this argument, they contend that expert testimony was erroneously admitted during the trial.
The plaintiff’s attorneys have countered these allegations by claiming that there is no preemption, based on a previous Supreme Court decision from 2005. They claim that the EPA did not address the unique risks posed when glyphosate is combined with other ingredients. The U.S. Solicitor General will be filing a brief in the following months, expressing the Biden administration’s view on the matter.
Pilliod et al. v. Monsanto
The third case filed against Monsanto was Pilliod et al. v. Monsanto. This was the first case to go to trial within the California Roundup Judicial Council Coordination Proceedings (JCCP). Hundreds of lawsuits filed in California state courts were consolidated into the Roundup JCCP, to be tried in the Superior Court of Alameda County, presiding Judge Winifred Smith.
The Pilliod et al. v. Monsanto case was the third case to be tried by a jury, and it ended in a landmark verdict of $2.055B, awarded on 5/13/2019. The verdict was later reduced by the trial judge to $86.7M. The decision was appealed by Monsanto, but the California Court of Appeal for the First Appellate District denied the appeal on 8/9/2021. The Court of Appeal rejected Monsanto’s request for preemption, upholding the reduced award of $86.7M, which includes punitive damages. This decision was later appealed to the California Supreme Court which, on 11/17/2021, denied the request.
The Roundup Judicial Council Coordination Proceedings
For cases filed in California state court, many of them have been consolidated in the Roundup Judicial Council Coordination Proceedings (JCCP), before the California Superior Court for the County of Alameda, Oakland. Hundreds of cases have been consolidated so far before Judge Winifred Smith. The first case to be tried was the Pilliod et al. v. Monsanto case, discussed above.
By August 2018, more than 18,000 people had filed suit against Monsanto in California state court, alleging that the company’s weed killer caused their cancer. This number continues to grow as new cases are being filed all the time. Plaintiffs who have developed NHL as a result of exposure to Roundup can receive significant financial compensation. For example, in February 2019, a jury in California awarded $80 million to a plaintiff who developed NHL after using Roundup for over 30 years. While not all plaintiffs will be awarded this amount of money, it is clear that those who develop cancer from Roundup can often recover substantial damages.
Defense Attempts by Monsanto
Despite knowing about the harmful effects of glyphosate for decades, Monsanto has fought tooth and nail to avoid liability. The company has argued that federal law preempts state law claims, that it cannot be sued under state law because it is an agricultural company, and even that the use of glyphosate in Roundup does not cause cancer.
It will be interesting to see what the Supreme Court decides in these cases. The petition asks the Supreme Court to review a decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which found that federal laws known as the “Labeling Act” and the Federal Fungicide, Insecticide, Rodenticide Act (FFIRA) preempt state law claims related to glyphosate. If the Supreme Court sides with Monsanto, it could effectively shut down all Roundup litigation. However, if the Supreme Court rules against Monsanto, it could pave the way for thousands of plaintiffs to recover damages from the company. In any event, this will likely be a landmark case when it is finally decided.
Help with Roundup Mass Torts
The Supreme Court's decision to hear a petition for certiorari in a Roundup mass tort is significant. If the Court agrees to review the lower court decisions, it could potentially provide some clarity on whether or not Monsanto can be held liable for injuries caused by its herbicide. In short, if the Supreme Court finds preemption of state law by federal law in this matter, the Roundup mass tort would wither away, and existing claims would lose much of their value. It will be important to watch how the Supreme Court handles this case and what implications it may have for future Roundup litigation.
In addition to the cases discussed above, cases have been filed in other state courts, such as Montana and Delaware. Of relevance, thousands of cases have been filed in Missouri, given that Monsanto is headquartered in this state.
If you or someone you know has been injured by Roundup, please contact us today. We can help you seek justice and hold Monsanto (now Bayer) accountable for the harm they have caused. Contact our Roundup attorneys online or at (800) 689-8552.
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