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Daily News Blog

15
May

Jury Awards $2 Billion for Damages in Third Federal Roundup Cancer Case

(Beyond Pesticides, May 15, 2019) On Monday, a California jury awarded plaintiffs in the third federal Roundup case over $2 billion in punitive and compensatory damages. The jury found that Monsanto “engaged in conduct with malice, oppression or fraud committed by one or more officers, directors or managing agents of Monsanto.”

Plaintiffs Alva and Alberta Pilliod, a married couple in their seventies, used Roundup weed killer since the 1970s to maintain their yard and other owned properties. The couple did not wear protective gear when using Roundup because Monsanto marketed the product as “safe.” Alva was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) in 2011; Alberta’s diagnosis followed in 2015.

The Pilliod v. Monsanto jury came to their decision based on evidence, not only of the herbicide’s carcinogenicity, but also of Monsanto’s role in suppressing and discredit.ing independent findings regarding Roundup toxicity. In an interview with U.S. Right to Know’s Carey Gillam, co-lead trial counsel Michael Miller said, “Unlike the first two Monsanto trials, where the judges severely limited the amount of plaintiffs’ evidence, we were finally allowed to show a jury the mountain of evidence showing Monsanto’s manipulation of science, the media and regulatory agencies to forward their own agenda despite Roundup’s severe harm to the animal kingdom and humankind.”

That glyphosate-based herbicides cause cancer is by now a matter of scientific consensus. In 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) found glyphosate to be a probable human carcinogen. In response to resistance from the European Food Safety Authority, 94 expert scientists published an article in support of IARC’s methodologies and findings. Since 2015, several more publications have added significant weight to the body of evidence supporting glyphosate’s carcinogenicity. A 2018 meta-analysis of studies on glyphosate suggested “a compelling link between exposures to GBH [glyphosate-based herbicides] and increased risk of NHL [non-Hodgkin lymphoma]. A 2019 University of Washington study found that glyphosate exposure increases the risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma by as much as 41%. As of July 7, 2017, glyphosate is listed as a cancer-causing chemical under California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Proposition 65). This requires cancer warning labels be placed on end-use glyphosate products in California.

The Pilliod trial adds to the growing list of major wins for plaintiffs suffering from cancer caused by Monsanto’s “malice, oppression or fraud.” In the summer of 2018, California groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson won a $289 million jury verdict against Monsanto for his development of NHL after consistent exposure to Roundup. The jury awarded him $39 million in compensatory damages, and $250 million in punitive damages, finding that Monsanto acted with “malice or oppression.” That amount was later amended by the judge to a total $78 million. In the second federal court case, again in California, the jury found unanimously that Edwin Hardeman’s development of NHL was substantially caused by Roundup.

More so than previous trials, the Pilliod trial highlighted evidence for collusion between Monsanto and top EPA officials to defend against the onslaught of Roundup cancer trials. Jurors were presented with communications uncovered through a 2017 FOIA request, in which EPA officials responded to requests from Monsanto to effect a delay in the 2015 Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry review of glyphosate. The Pilliods’ attorneys also presented new documents, including a report attached to a July 2018 email between the strategic intelligence firm Hayklut and Monsanto. As covered by U.S. Right to Know, the report includes the reassurance,

“A domestic policy adviser at the White House said, for instance: ‘We have Monsanto’s back on pesticides regulation. We are prepared to go toe-to-toe on any disputes they may have with, for example, the EU. Monsanto need not fear any additional regulation from this administration.”

In spite of mounting consensus on Roundup’s carcinogenicity, on May 8, EPA released a proposed interim decision for glyphosate’s registration review stating that glyphosate is “not likely to be carcinogenic to humans.” In a statement expressing its intent to appeal the case, Bayer referenced that the jury verdict “conflicts directly with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s interim registration review decision released just last month.”

“The fact that multiple federal cases have found that Roundup caused plaintiffs’ cancer is a testament to the weight of independent scientific evidence supporting the link between glyphosate-based herbicides and NHL,” said Sarah Bluher, science and regulatory manager at Beyond Pesticides. “EPA’s failure to acknowledge that weight of evidence, and their active role in protecting Monsanto’s financial interests, are a threat to national public health,” Ms. Bluher continued.

Pilliod v. Monsanto is the first of more than 250 consolidated California Roundup cases to proceed to trial. Bayer/Monsanto still faces more than 13,000 similar pending lawsuits nationwide. Stay abreast of the latest legal, regulatory, and scientific pesticide news by following the Beyond Pesticides Daily News Blog.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Sources: USRTK Roundup Trial Tracker, Baum Hedlund Aristei Goldman PC, Consumer Safety

 

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One Response to “Jury Awards $2 Billion for Damages in Third Federal Roundup Cancer Case”

  1. 1
    Cheryl Shushan Says:

    Ban glyphosate, a probable carcinogen!

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