Roundup Lawsuit: An Update on the Case

Roundup is a well-known herbicide produced by the company Bayer (formerly Monsanto) that has been at the center of legal battles and controversies due to its main ingredient, glyphosate, being classified as “probably carcinogenic to humans” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2015. This classification triggered a series of lawsuits alleging that Roundup caused cancer in users and throughout the years the company as well as the legal process have had many changes and updates. 

Initially developed by Monsanto in the 1970s, Roundup gained global popularity for its effectiveness in eliminating various weeds and has been considered the best solution for any type of cultivation: from gardening to agriculture. The product destroyed the weed that affected crops or plants without being harmful to the other living species.

However, its popularity started to change when the first significant lawsuit emerged in 2018. Dewayne Johnson, a former school groundskeeper, claimed that regular use of Roundup contributed to his terminal cancer diagnosis. This case set a precedent for numerous others to follow, including farmers, gardeners, and other Roundup users, who alleged that their exposure to glyphosate led to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

While some lawsuits resulted in substantial damages awarded to the plaintiffs, others sided with Monsanto (and later, Bayer). The acquisition of Monsanto by Bayer in 2018 further escalated the number of lawsuits, posing significant financial and reputational challenges for the company. In an attempt to address the mounting claims, Bayer engaged in settlement negotiations with plaintiffs’ lawyers, leading to several major settlements.

At present, the recent Roundup settlement updates indicate that the Roundup lawsuits continue to unfold. Bayer’s hope of getting the lawsuits dismissed was dashed when the 9th Circuit denied their preemption argument, and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear their appeal.

In February 2023, a new study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute provided more evidence linking chronic exposure to glyphosate with an increased risk of cancer. The study focused on 268 farmers with occupational exposure to glyphosate and found higher levels of specific oxidative stress biomarkers associated with cancer risk in this group.

In a specific trial held in St. Louis, lawyers for Bayer successfully argued that the case lacked sufficient connections to the city, leading to the dismissal of the lawsuit. Additionally, Monsanto’s lawyers attempted to discredit an expert plaintiffs’ witness, Professor David Carpenter, by contacting his university. Although the university initially put Professor Carpenter on leave pending an investigation, he was later reinstated and cleared of any wrongdoing.

In May, another Roundup cancer trial commenced in St. Louis County, Missouri. The case involved Sharlean Gordon’s claims of regular exposure to Roundup during her childhood. Bayer’s lawyers questioned Ms. Gordon about her assertions and raised concerns about her handling of medical records. Bayer emerged victorious in this trial, marking its seventh consecutive win.

Moving to June, Bayer and Monsanto reached a nearly $7 million Roundup settlement with the state of New York over false and misleading advertising claims related to Roundup’s environmental impact. The companies were accused of making unsupported claims about the herbicide’s effects on wildlife and implying that Roundup products were safer than dish soap, contrary to a prior agreement. The settlement funds will be used for research, education, and habitat restoration to reduce the impact of toxic pesticides on pollinators and aquatic life.

In July, Monsanto sought to exclude expert testimony from Dr. Ron Schiff, a prominent witness for the plaintiffs, arguing that his opinions on the Roundup cancer link were based on faulty methodology and should not be considered reliable. This ongoing legal battle reflects the complexity and significance of the Roundup lawsuit, which continues to be a matter of concern and scrutiny.

As the Roundup lawsuit unfolds, the significance of seeking legal help becomes increasingly apparent for the plaintiffs seeking justice. With each trial and a new piece of evidence, the guidance and expertise of experienced attorneys are crucial in navigating the complexities of the legal system. The stakes are undeniably high, and the implications of the outcome may reverberate throughout the agricultural and legal landscapes. As more studies are conducted and expert witnesses present their testimonies, the public eagerly awaits the resolution of this contentious issue. 

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