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Daily News Blog

26
Feb

Take Action: Pesticide Manufacturers Ask States To Shield Them from Lawsuits by Those Harmed

Beyond Pesticides launched an action to stop pesticide manufacturers shielding themselves from liability cases from exposure victims.

(Beyond Pesticides, February 26, 2024) Beyond Pesticides today launched an action to stop a nationwide campaign by chemical manufacturers to shield themselves from liability cases filed by those who have been harmed by pesticide products. As widely reported, Bayer/Monsanto has been hit with numerous jury awards and settlements totaling billions of dollars for adverse health effects associated with their weed killer glyphosate (RoundupTM). After unsuccessfully seeking U.S. Supreme Court review of two of these cases, the industry is now pushing legislation in state legislatures that will shield them from future liability litigation.

This is not the first time that the pesticide and toxic chemical industry has sought protection from the states after losing in the highest U.S. Court. After the Supreme Court upheld the right of localities to restrict pesticides more stringently than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and state regulatory agencies in Wisconsin Public Intervenor v. Mortier (501 U.S. 597, 1991), the industry went to every state legislature in the country to seek state preemption of their local jurisdictions’ authority to restrict pesticides. They were successful in putting state preemption laws in place in 43 states and have since added another.  

Having failed in the courts, history is repeating itself as pesticide and chemical manufacturers descend on state legislators, this time with legislation to shield them from liability lawsuits filed by people injured from exposure to their products. So far, the industry has been successful in getting their bill introduced in at least four states. This activity is spurred on by the thousands of cases involving Roundup/glyphosate that have resulted in large jury awards and settlements against Bayer/Monsanto in the billions of dollars. While sponsors of these bills claim that the labels on pesticide products provide sufficient warning of hazards, users have been misled by advertising that falsely touts product safety. Reminiscent of previous state legislative battles, the chemical industry is now leaning on elected officials, whether in state legislatures or the U.S. Congress, to do its bidding in blocking, or preempting, court action. 

As Beyond Pesticides previously reported, Bayer’s efforts in the last year have been rebuffed twice by the U.S. Supreme Court, letting stand two lower court rulings against the company. The company’s most recent loss, on February 5, 2024, came from the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which decided in favor of the plaintiff in Carson v. Monsanto on Bayer’s claim that FIFRA preempts a failure to warn claim.  

Tell your state legislators to protect the right of citizens to seek redress against pesticide manufacturers from harm caused by their products. 

Last week, the Idaho Senate rejected SB 1245, which would have provided legal protection to pesticide manufacturers from “failure-to-warn” liability. This legal framework has been pivotal not only for pesticide users seeking redress from exposure to glyphosate-based herbicide products such as Roundup, but also applies to any toxic pesticide products. Proponents of SB 1245 argue, “[This bill] protect[s] companies that produce safe pesticides critical to agriculture in Idaho and beyond.” Idaho Press continues,” Sen. Harris said the bill does not restrict lawsuits against pesticide manufacturers for a number of claims, including product defects, drift or misapplication, or if the manufacturer fraudulently conceals known facts about the product.”  

While other causes of action are often pursued, the overwhelming majority of successful cases for pesticide injury lawsuits fall under “failure-to-warn” claims. Brigit Rollins, a staff attorney at the National Agricultural Law Center, describes this liability framework as, “a type of civil tort that is frequently raised in products liability cases. Unlike negligence and design defect…failure to warn does not argue that a product has physical faults. Instead, a plaintiff typically raises failure to warn claims to allege that a product manufacturer failed to provide adequate warnings or instructions about the safe use of a product.” Under the new push in several state legislatures, this legal framework would be moot, rendering victims around the United States without effective legal recourse and releasing industry actors such as Bayer from billions of dollars in ongoing and future settlements. As of 2022, Bayer settled over 1,000 lawsuits paying out approximately $11 billion and faces an additional 30,000 lawsuits pending. 

Glyphosate litigation is a notable example of why the dependence on EPA’s labels provides inadequate protection—in this case, for users of the pesticide, but also for neighboring farms, farmworkers and bystanders, consumers of contaminated food and water, and the biosphere. Legislators who choose to restrict the right of injured parties to seek recompense from pesticide manufacturers are doing their constituents a tremendous disservice.

Tell your state legislators to protect the right of citizens to seek redress against pesticide manufacturers from harm caused by their products.

Letter to state legislators

I am writing to ask you to reject any legislation that may be introduced in the state legislature to shield pesticide and toxic chemical manufacturers from lawsuits when users of their products are injured from their exposure to the chemicals. Legislation like this is popping up around the country and is unfair to people who have been harmed, despite their compliance with product labels. As you may know, numerous cases against Bayer/Monsanto involving the weed killer glyphosate (RoundupTM) have resulted in large jury awards and settlements for those who have been harmed. The manufacturer has appealed verdicts to the U.S. Supreme Court twice and has been rebuffed each time, so they are now asking states to prevent victims from seeking compensation. Although sponsors of these bills claim that the pesticide label is sufficient warning, users have been misled by advertising touting the products’ safety.

As an example of such legislation, a bill recently rejected by the Idaho Senate would have provided legal protection to pesticide manufacturers from “failure-to-warn” liability. This legal approach has been pivotal for pesticide users seeking redress from exposure to glyphosate-based herbicide products such as Roundup as well as other toxic pesticide products. Proponents of SB 1245 argue, “[This bill] protect[s] companies that produce safe pesticides critical to agriculture in Idaho and beyond.” Idaho Press continues,” Sen. Harris said the bill does not restrict lawsuits against pesticide manufacturers for a number of claims, including product defects, drift or misapplication, or if the manufacturer fraudulently conceals known facts about the product.” 

While other causes of action are often pursued, the overwhelming majority of successful cases for pesticide injury lawsuits fall under “failure-to-warn” claims. Brigit Rollins, a staff attorney at the National Agricultural Law Center, describes this liability framework as, “a type of civil tort that is frequently raised in products liability cases. Unlike negligence and design defect…failure to warn does not argue that a product has physical faults. Instead, a plaintiff typically raises failure to warn claims to allege that a product manufacturer failed to provide adequate warnings or instructions about the safe use of a product.” Under the new push in several state legislatures, this legal framework would be moot, rendering victims without effective legal recourse and releasing industry actors such as Bayer from billions of dollars in ongoing and future settlements. As of 2022, Bayer settled over 1,000 lawsuits paying out approximately $11 billion and faces an additional 30,000 lawsuits pending.

Glyphosate litigation is a notable example of why the dependence on EPA’s labels provides inadequate protection—in this case, for users of the pesticide, but also for neighboring farms, farmworkers and bystanders, consumers of contaminated food and water, and the biosphere. Legislators who choose to restrict the right of injured parties to seek recompense from pesticide manufacturers are doing their constituents a tremendous disservice. 

I urge you to reject such legislation restricting the rights of injured parties in our state—whether they be users of the pesticide, neighboring farms, farmworkers, landscapers, bystanders, consumers of contaminated food and water, or defenders of nature—to recover damages from pesticide manufacturers.

Thank you.

 

Share

9 Responses to “Take Action: Pesticide Manufacturers Ask States To Shield Them from Lawsuits by Those Harmed”

  1. 1
    Harriet McCleary Says:

    Pesticide and toxic chemical industries are full of BS!

  2. 2
    Patricia Chambers Says:

    Why when they know it’s killing pollinators and making us sick as dogs eating foods with this crud. Shameful.

  3. 3
    Darla Says:

    Stop the pesticides!!

  4. 4
    Linda Coulston Says:

    It would be outrageous and unacceptable to protect pesticide manufactures from lawsuits. It will lead to unbridled greed for money vs taking responsibility for preventable harm to people and the environment.

    You MUST NOT allow such egregious protection for pesticide manufactures.

  5. 5
    Pam Wilbourn Says:

    Nothing new here,poison the planet,wheather it be through air,water,animals,plants,land,they just don’t care,,,I FREAKING CARE! STOP THESE INSANE EVILS OF THIS WORLD,PLEASE STOP THEM!

  6. 6
    Sandra Cobb Says:

    Pesticide manufacturers must reap what they sow. They have been poisoning us and the environment for decades. THEY MUST BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE.

  7. 7
    Yvonne Fisher Says:

    All consumers need to be protected from litigation by the companies whose products have caused them harm.

    This is paramount in a functioning democracy. Large, wealthy companies should not overpower individuals who have had injuries and want to take them to court.

  8. 8
    Alberto Says:

    acabar con quién produce estos venenos es la mejor manera

  9. 9
    kashi Says:

    Really, This post serves as an invaluable resource for raising awareness and mobilizing action against attempts to limit legal recourse for pesticide-related harms. Thank you, Beyond Pesticides, for your dedication to promoting transparency, accountability, and justice in the realm of pesticide regulation.

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