Roundup Cancer: Understanding Your Legal Rights as a Victim

Roundup is a popular weed-killing product in the US. Monsanto originally produced it, but the company was later acquired by Bayer in 2018. While Bayer phased out the Monsanto name, it continued to sell Roundup products to consumers.

Roundup’s active ingredient is glyphosate, the most widely used herbicide. Glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide, meaning it kills any plant it’s applied to. Farmers use this weed killer for acres of soybeans and corn.

Although glyphosate is an effective herbicide, its effects on humans have been widely debated. Exposure to glyphosate can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, and throat. It may also lead to death if ingested. 

Moreover, the World Health Organization (WHO) categorized it as a probable human carcinogen. The University of Washington researchers discovered that using Roundup increases the risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma

However, other agencies have different conclusions about the product, making glyphosate’s link to non-Hodgkin lymphoma controversial. Regardless, you may contact a personal injury attorney if you suffered health problems from Roundup exposure.

Key Takeaways
  • The University of Washington researchers found that glyphosate exposure increases the risk of some cancers by 40 percent.
  • One type of product defect is the manufacturer’s failure to warn consumers of the product’s dangers.
  • There have been successful lawsuits against Monsanto, with the jury or court awarding millions of dollars to plaintiffs.

Filing a Personal Injury Case Against Bayer

You can demand compensation if you suspect that your health problems were caused by Roundup exposure. You may base your claim on the product liability doctrine while taking note of the statute of limitations.

Product liability doctrine

You can file a claim against Bayer by invoking product liability. One type of defect that creates liability involves marketing defects where the company fails to provide proper instructions for using the item. It also includes failing to warn consumers of the product’s potential dangers.

To prove your case, a personal injury lawyer must demonstrate the following:

  • Bayer sells a product that the plaintiff uses;
  • Bayer is the commercial seller of Roundup;
  • The plaintiff suffers an injury;
  • When Bayer sold the item, it was already defective; and
  • The defective product caused the plaintiff’s injury.

A sample scenario involves a landscaper who used Roundup for several years. To convince the courts, the lawyer must collect employment records and receipts to show that their client used Roundup. The attorney must also gather the plaintiff’s medical records to prove the injury. 

For example, if the plaintiff asserts that they have non-Hodgkin lymphoma, they must present results of biopsy procedures, imaging tests, and other diagnostic tests. These records can also show the treatment the plaintiff received, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

More importantly, the lawyer must establish that the plaintiff’s use of Roundup caused the injury. The attorney may present expert testimonies and scientific studies to prove causation. 

Product liability is generally a strict liability offense, so the court may not consider Monsanto or Bayer’s intent. Hence, it does not matter whether they intended to produce a dangerous product.

Finally, the plaintiffs must file the case within the statute of limitations, which varies per state. For example, Section 13-80-106 of the Colorado Revised Statutes provides a time limit of two years. The courts might not entertain your claim if you filed it beyond the designated period.

Recoverable damages in Roundup lawsuits

The plaintiffs may receive compensation for the following:

A 2020 report by the American Cancer Society revealed that patients paid $5.6 billion out of pocket for cancer treatments in 2018. The report also projects that by 2030 the US may pay $246 billion for cancer-related healthcare. 

Due to the rising costs of cancer treatments, it would help patients affected by defective products to demand compensation from manufacturers.

Aside from the costs of treatments, plaintiffs can also receive payment for lost income since cancer can affect an individual’s ability to work. Moreover, Roundup victims may demand compensation for pain and suffering since cancer can cause emotional trauma.

The court or jury may also award punitive damages to serve as punishment for the defendant’s harmful behavior. However, your personal injury lawyer must present compelling evidence to prove willful misconduct.

Conflicting Studies on Glyphosate’s Cancer Risk

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a cancer that originates in the lymphatic system. The white blood cells grow abnormally and form tumors. The disease includes several types, such as chronic lymphocytic leukemia, cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, and cutaneous B-cell lymphoma.

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. It develops more slowly and usually affects older adults. People exposed to chemicals and herbicides have a higher risk of developing CLL.

In contrast, cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL) starts in white blood cells called T lymphocytes and affects the skin. Patients with CTCL may notice skin tumors and scaly round patches on their skin.

Cutaneous B-cell lymphoma (CBCL) is another skin cancer that involves germ-fighting B-cells. It may cause red, purple, or brown lesions and swollen lymph nodes.

The scientific community has contradicting findings on whether glyphosate exposure can cause cancer. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stated that glyphosate is not likely carcinogenic to humans. The regulatory agency asserted that it considered 15 studies in its review.

However, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) argues otherwise. The international agency, which is part of the WHO, published on its website that glyphosate is probably carcinogenic to humans. It stated that it reviewed almost 1,000 studies. Some studies also examined workers exposed to glyphosate-based herbicides.

Moreover, a 2019 study from the University of Washington found a compelling link between glyphosate and the risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The study seemingly supported the IARC’s findings that glyphosate exposure increases the risk of some cancers. 

According to the co-author Rachel Shaffer, their analysis included a study of over 54,000 licensed pesticide applicators. The researchers also raised public health concerns over the use of glyphosate-based herbicides.

Successful Roundup Cancer Lawsuits

In a few cases, the court or jury ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and against Monsanto. They awarded the winning parties millions to billions of dollars.

Johnson v. Monsanto Co.

Dewayne Johnson was an integrated pest manager for the Benicia Unified School District. His duties include mixing and spraying Monsanto products on school properties. He followed the manufacturer’s instructions and wore a protective suit while applying the products.

However, sometimes the solution would drift to some parts of his body. He sprayed for up to three hours on weekdays and occasionally on weekends. During summer, Johnson would spray the solution for up to five hours, resulting in heavy use of glyphosate-containing products.

In April 2014, Ranger Pro seeped into his protective gear, soaking his skin. As a result, he developed a strange rash, prompting him to seek medical attention. The physician prescribed a topical cream, but the rash turned out to be non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Johnson contacted Monsanto to ask whether Roundup could cause cancer, but he never received a reply. He filed a case against Monsanto in January 2016 after leaving his job. He argued that Monsanto’s products likely caused his cancer. The jury awarded him $289 million, but the Court of Appeal reduced it to $78 million.

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Pilliod v. Monsanto Co.

Alberta and Alva Pilliod used Roundup weed killer for almost three decades for their residential landscaping needs. Their lives took a dramatic turn when doctors diagnosed Alva with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2011. Four years later, Alberta was diagnosed with the same condition.

Alva experienced debilitating pain, which persisted even after chemotherapy. He could no longer engage in his former hobbies, including long-distance sailing. Likewise, Alberta experienced depression and memory loss, making it challenging for her to do her usual daily activities.

In response, the couple sued Monsanto, claiming that Roundup had a design defect and the company failed to warn consumers of Roundup’s dangers. The couple’s lawyer argued that the company had no interest in evaluating whether Roundup was safe. The jury in California found Monsanto liable and awarded the Pilliods $2 billion in punitive damages.

Hardeman v. Monsanto Co.

Edwin Hardeman used Roundup for three decades to treat poison oak and eliminate weeds on his property. On December 25, 2014, Hardeman noticed a swollen lymph node. It turned out to be stage three non-Hodgkin lymphoma. 

Although his cancer is now in remission, Hardeman and his wife still recall the agony they endured throughout his cancer and chemotherapy sessions. He experiences bouts of nausea and electric shocks. His face even became unrecognizable due to the swelling.

Hardeman realized Roundup’s role in his cancer diagnosis after watching a TV report on IARC’s ruling regarding glyphosate. He filed a lawsuit against Monsanto in 2016. He argued that the company did not warn him of Roundup’s possible dangers, such as links to cancers. On appeal, the Supreme Court awarded him a $25 million settlement.

Roundup Cancer Lawsuits Won by Monsanto or Bayer

In October 2021, a California jury ruled in favor of Monsanto and against a child who developed Burkitt’s lymphoma

Destiny Clark was using Roundup to control weeds on their property. Her son, Ezra, played in freshly-sprayed areas, directly exposing him to glyphosate.

On February 29, 2016, the doctors diagnosed Ezra with Burkitt’s lymphoma. It’s rare cancer that mainly affects children and can increase within an hour. Patients with Burkitt’s lymphoma typically undergo intensive chemotherapy since it’s fast-growing cancer. 

Medical experts considered Ezra’s Roundup exposure a substantial factor in causing his lymphoma. Had Destiny known that Roundup could cause cancer, she would not have used the herbicide. She argued that Monsanto failed to include cancer warning labels on its products. However, the jury did not agree, and Monsanto won the case.

Another case won by the company involves a 70-year-old woman who used Roundup for over 30 years. In 2017, the doctors diagnosed Donnetta Stephens with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. She experienced a relapse in 2019 and had to undergo several chemotherapy cycles.

Stephen’s lawyer argued that she suffered from weakness, fatigue, and extreme pain. She also experienced heart and kidney failure, arthritis, vertigo, and seizure disorder. As a fall risk, she also needs assistance when walking.

In December 2021, the jury in San Bernardino County decided that Stephen’s non-Hodgkin lymphoma was not due to Roundup. The jury stated Monsanto did not know Roundup’s dangers and did not act negligently in formulating the herbicide.

Multidistrict Litigation of Roundup Cancer Cases

Multidistrict litigation (MDL) is a legal process used in handling several complicated cases during the discovery and pretrial stages. It seeks to promote efficiency by consolidating evidence. An example of an MDL is when the California District Court temporarily consolidated thousands of legal complaints against Monsanto.

Section 1407 of the US Code provides the guidelines for MDLs. Civil actions must involve common questions of fact. Moreover, the designated judge should conduct the consolidated pretrial proceedings. Section 1407 also states that the judicial panel on MDL may transfer the cases upon its initiative, or a party may file a motion to transfer their case.

During an MDL, the assigned judge will manage the pretrial and discovery stages. If the court does not resolve the case during these stages or the parties do not reach a settlement, the judge will remand the case to the original court. In contrast, a class action suit combines the cases for the entire court process.

Did you know?

De-classified documents, known as Monsanto Papers, have revealed that the company allegedly sponsored ghostwritten articles to defend its products.

Hire an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma and other types of cancer can drastically impact a person’s quality of life, physically and financially. It entails huge medical bills from chemotherapy and radiation therapy sessions. Fortunately, a personal injury lawyer can assist you in proving your product liability case. Likewise, they can help you get fair compensation.

Visit The Personal Injury Center to learn more about claims regarding defective products. We also provide legal information about medical malpractice, personal injury, class action lawsuits, and birth injuries.

Recover compensation if you have been diagnosed with health problems due to Roundup exposure. Tell us about your case, so we can match you with a reliable attorney.

FAQs on Roundup Cancer

The US government did not ban glyphosate despite possible health concerns. However, some cities have taken measures to limit its use. For example, Santa Rosa, California, banned Roundup use at city parks, while Sonoma, California, prohibits glyphosate use on city-owned properties.

It is possible to file a case without paying up-front fees. You can enter a contingency fee agreement with a lawyer. You will only be required to pay legal fees if the attorney successfully represents your interests. In this type of agreement, lawyers are typically limited to a percentage of the settlement or award.

The settlement amount depends on the severity of your health problems and your level of exposure to Roundup. It may range from $5,000 to $250,000.