Roundup Cancer Litigation Update
Written by Faith Anderson on April 9, 2018
MDL Judge Weighing Expert Testimony on Potential Link Between Roundup Weedkiller and Cancer
As product liability claims involving Roundup weed killer and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma continue to be investigated by attorneys across the country, the federal judge presiding over all federal Roundup lawsuits will consider expert testimony presented by both sides before determining whether the litigation can proceed to trial. More than 360 federal lawsuits have been filed against Monsanto over its controversial weed killer, on behalf of farmers, landscapers and other consumers who claim that their exposure to Roundup gave them cancer. If you or a loved one developed cancer after being exposed to Roundup, contact our consumer advocates at Consumer Justice Foundation for help. You may have grounds to file a Roundup lawsuit against Monsanto, and a knowledgeable product liability lawyer can inform you of your legal options.
Plaintiff Allegations in Roundup Litigation
The ongoing Roundup litigation involves claims that exposure to glyphosate, the active ingredient in the widely used weed killer, increases the risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer that develops in the lymphatic system and can spread to other parts of the body. More than 365 Roundup cancer lawsuits filed against Monsanto in federal court have been consolidated for coordinated pretrial proceedings in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, as part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL). In addition to the federal MDL, plaintiffs from all over the country have filed claims in state courts alleging non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other types of cancer from Roundup exposure. The first state court case set for trial will begin on June 18, 2018.
Glyphosate Declared a “Probable Human Carcinogen”
According to allegations raised in Roundup cancer lawsuits, Monsanto failed to provide adequate warnings about the potential for the weed killer’s active ingredient, glyphosate, to cause non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in farmers and other consumers exposed to the weed killer. Glyphosate is the world’s most popular herbicide, and it’s applied to everything from home gardens to genetically modified crops designed to resist it, to kill weeds. The widely-used herbicide was declared a “probable human carcinogen” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 2015, and has since been linked to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other types of cancer diagnosed in farmers, landscapers, agricultural workers and others regularly exposed to the weed killer.
Expert Witnesses Testify in Daubert Hearing
The federal judge presiding over the Roundup MDL, U.S. District Judge Vincent Chhabria, heard expert testimony about the science behind glyphosate and Monsanto’s weed killer during a Daubert hearing for the case in San Francisco last month. At the Daubert hearing, the legal teams for the plaintiffs and defense presented their expert witnesses to educate the court on the science behind the potential connection between Roundup and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The purpose of the Daubert hearing is to weigh the admissibility of the expert witnesses’ testimony. This means that Judge Chhabria will decide whether the proposed experts are operating within the parameters of the law governing what kind of science can be considered in court, and are therefore allowed to testify during trial.
Live testimony from expert witnesses in the Roundup litigation took place from March 5 to March 9, and on March 19, Judge Chhabria ordered an additional hearing for two plaintiffs’ experts, Dr. Chris Portier and Dr. Beate Ritz. Judge Chhabria is now expected to rule on whether the expert testimony is sufficiently reliable to be presented at trial. If the experts are not excluded from testifying at trial, or if a Roundup settlement isn’t reached to resolve the litigation in the meantime, it is expected that Judge Chhabria will schedule a series of “bellwether” trials. Bellwether trials are small groups of representative cases prepared for early trial dates that allow the involved parties to determine how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout the Roundup litigation.
Monsanto Suspected of Cover-Up
In the midst of growing concerns about the potential Roundup cancer link, Monsanto is suspected of taking steps to cover up this risk, including manipulating studies of the company’s weed killer. Since the beginning of the litigation against Monsanto, lawyers for the plaintiff have fought to declassify court documents that consist of explosive company reports, internal studies, emails, text messages and memos, known as The Monsanto Papers, which contain information the company obviously doesn’t want the public to see. These documents suggest that Monsanto knew about the potential connection between Roundup and cancer and actively worked to keep this information under wraps. In one email dating back to November 2003, Monsanto toxicologist Donna Farmer wrote, “You cannot say that Roundup is not a carcinogen. We have not done the necessary testing on the formulation to make that statement.”
Additional court documents have raised questions about the role Monsanto allegedly played in “ghostwriting” research regarding the potential link between Roundup and cancer, as well as working with a senior EPA official to suppress a negative review of glyphosate. Still, Monsanto claims that there is no proof that Roundup causes cancer. Says Timothy Litzenburg, an attorney for the plaintiffs, “You can just do a literature search and find many, many peer-reviewed, published articles concluding that glyphosate exposure increases the risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.”
Contact a Roundup Cancer Lawyer for Help
As part of the coordinated management of the federal Roundup weed killer cases, Judge Chhabria bifurcated the proceedings, indicating that the court would first consider the general causation link between Roundup and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, before addressing any case-specific issues about whether the weed killer caused cancer in individual plaintiffs. As Roundup injury attorneys continue to review and file new product liability claims, it is ultimately expected that thousands of lawsuits will be added to the federal MDL over the coming months and years. If you have been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma or another type of cancer, and you believe Roundup exposure to be the cause, consult an experienced Roundup cancer lawyer today to discuss your legal options.