Thousands of individuals have filed cases against Monsanto and Bayer, the manufacturer and owner of the weed killer Roundup, as experts have observed that the product could be carcinogenic. Many Roundup lawsuits are mass torts, meaning the Courts consolidated several individual lawsuits together. This happens when a large group of people has similar claims but unique injuries and damages, and it helps the Courts litigate cases faster. Scientists have linked ingredients in Roundup, particularly glyphosate, to various types of cancer, most notably non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
The pending lawsuits against Roundup state that the ingredients in the herbicide are harmful to users’ health and well-being. Further, the cases claim that Monsanto and Bayer either knew about the dangers of their product and failed to inform consumers adequately or were negligent in the development and testing of the product, leaving them unaware of the carcinogens in Roundup. The Courts formed a multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the North District of California to investigate and rule on the lawsuits against Roundup effectively.
Is there a Roundup lawsuit?
Yes, there are ongoing lawsuits against Roundup in which individuals diagnosed with cancer are suing Bayer, the product’s owner, for its negligence. People who purchased Roundup and suffered health complications, particularly regarding non-Hodgkin lymphoma, other types of lymphoma, and leukemia, might qualify for a settlement. These lawsuits seek to win payouts for qualified individuals to compensate for their suffering. This might include the cost of medical treatment, lost wages, and mental and emotional pain and suffering.
Plaintiff Dewayne Anthony Lee Johnson sued Monsanto in June 2018. He was the first of many to take legal action against the herbicide maker. Johnson worked as a school groundskeeper for years and used the weedkiller daily. In 2014, he developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Because of the aggressive nature of Johnson’s cancer, his case moved through the Courts rapidly. In August 2018, jurors determined Johnson deserved $289 million in damages. The San Francisco Superior Court reduced this figure, bringing Johnson’s payout to $78 million, which eventually led to a $21 million settlement.
The Courts originally launched the Roundup MDL in the Northern District of California in 2016 with bellwether trials beginning in February 2019. Bellwether trials are those in which the Court tries individual cases they select as representative of the entire lawsuit. While each plaintiff suing Bayer and Monsanto has a unique story and set of damages, these cases help the Court understand the relationship between Roundup usage and cancer and determine how they might handle the rest of the cases as the MDL grows.
The first official bellwether case in the MDL was that of Edwin Hardeman. The jury agreed that glyphosate and Roundup were major factors in Hardeman developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma. They decided on $25 million in damages to account for Hardeman’s expenses and suffering. Bayer later tried to appeal this ruling. The Court declined the request and upheld the initial decision in Hardeman’s favor.
Since then, Monsanto has settled around 100,000 Roundup cases, paying plaintiffs about $11 billion in damages. There are still thousands of cases remaining, and new plaintiffs file lawsuits regularly. The cases against Bayer and Monsanto are very much ongoing.
Roundup linked to cancer
Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup, and it’s also the key ingredient with a suspected correlation to cancer in users of the pesticide. Originally brought to market in the United States in 1974, glyphosate is an herbicide used primarily for the destruction of weeds on residential, commercial, industrial, and civic properties. Although it’s been available since the ’70s, use grew exponentially in the ’90s and early 2000s. Glyphosate products, especially Roundup, are popular with farmers of plants like cotton, corn, and soybeans.
There are several recent studies from research organizations and academics aiming to understand the relationship between glyphosate and cancer. Here’s a breakdown of some of the instrumental studies that have influenced the Courts’ and public’s views on Roundup and its correlation with lymphoma and leukemia:
International Agency for Research on Cancer’s 2015 study
In March 2015, 17 experts from around the globe gathered at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) to study the adverse health effects of chemical pesticides after regular exposure. Glyphosate wasn’t the only chemical the team was investigating. They also studied diazinon, malathion, parathion, and tetrachlorvinphos. These experts researched glyphosate’s influence on both humans and animals, carefully reviewing approximately 1,000 different studies. The IARC found more evidence of cancer in animals exposed to glyphosate than in humans exposed to it, but the experts still concluded that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans.”
These findings apply to both pure glyphosate and glyphosate mixtures involving other compounds, but the team used stringent research protocols to ensure they could attribute cancer only to glyphosate and not to other ingredients in these pesticides. Although the researchers noticed cancer numbers rose in subjects with higher exposure rates, they still saw cancer in those exposed to lower doses. This implies that while people and animals with greater exposure to glyphosate might have a heightened risk of disease, even infrequent users might be in danger of developing cancer.
Agricultural Health Study’s 2018 findings
In 2001, the Agricultural Health Study (AHS) looked into glyphosate and found no evidence of cancerous outcomes. In 2018, the organization revisited the topic with recently published research in consideration. The 2018 study focused on over 54,000 licensed pesticide applicators. The study found that subjects who had high exposure to glyphosate faced a greater risk of developing acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
University of Washington’s 2019 study
In 2019, a group of researchers at the University of Washington performed a meta-analysis of existing research on the link between glyphosate and cancer to verify its accuracy and advance the findings of previous researchers. The team published its research in Mutation Research/Reviews in Mutation Research. Perhaps the study’s biggest takeaway is that the team found glyphosate to increase the risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma by 41%, which is notedly higher than researchers had previously thought.
The University of Washington researchers primarily revisited AHS’s 2018 research and considered it along with five unique case-control studies. The group also performed extensive research into lymphoma to provide the findings with objective context that minimizes bias and confirms the likelihood that exposure to glyphosate via pesticides could be responsible for this increased risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Through analysis, statistical review, and comprehensive research, the study foundÂ that there is an even more substantial link between cancer and weedkillers like Roundup and Ranger Pro than already suspected.
Environmental Protection Agency findings
The Environment Protection Agency (EPA), a government group that controls ecological and environmental threats, reviews herbicides every 15 years to determine their toxicity and control their availability on the market. In 2020, the EPA published its opinionÂ onÂ glyphosate. Despite the researchers’ findings, the EPA doesn’t consider glyphosate to be carcinogenic to humans. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals challenged the EPA’s findings, as they’re highly relevant to the lawsuit against Roundup, ordering a new analysis. The EPA stated it could not meet the Court’s October 2022 deadline and expectsÂ a full review of glyphosate to be ready in 2026.
Projected Roundup lawsuit settlement amounts
When considering the amount you might recover in damages from a Roundup lawsuit, it’s important to understand that no two cases are identical, and the Court awards individual plaintiffs different amounts depending on their personal circumstances. In mass tort lawsuits, the Court hires an objective third party to score each plaintiff according to a variety of factors. This score determines the size of their payout. Here are some factors that influence the size of Roundup settlement amounts:
- The type of cancer (such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma or leukemia).
- The nature of the plaintiff’s exposure to Roundup.
- The severity and stage of cancer.
- The treatment the plaintiff underwent or is undergoing.
- The plaintiff’s age at the time of their diagnosis.
WhileÂ the exact amount plaintiffs can expect to receive in damages is unknown, should they win their case, Roundup lawsuit payouts can range from $5,000 to $250,000. As of Bayer’s 2020 $11 billion settlement deal, the average payout for Roundup plaintiffs was $160,000. For some plaintiffs, this money might go toward medical bills for cancer treatment, which can be exorbitantly expensive. Some law firms help connect plaintiffs with mediators who can help negotiate better insurance terms to minimize these expenses. Plaintiffs typically also pay their legal representatives a contingency fee out of their settlement payout.
A contingency fee is an amount a plaintiff agrees to pay a law firm should they win their case. Many firms agree to take on clients without any money paid upfront. The agreement is that they take a percentage of the settlement payout if they win, and the plaintiff pays nothing if they lose. Contingency fees for Roundup cases are often around 30% of the settlement amount.
Do you qualify for a Roundup lawsuit?
To be eligible for a lawsuit against Bayer and Monsanto for harm that Roundup weed killer may have caused, you need to fulfill two major criteria:
Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma or other cancer diagnoses
The lawsuit against Roundup is for people diagnosed with one of the types of cancers with which Roundup may have a link. Most plaintiffs suing Roundup for damages are non-Hodgkin lymphoma patients. This includes people currently pursuing treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma and people not currently receiving treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. It is important, however, thatÂ a plaintiffÂ has an official diagnosis from a licensed medical professional.
To participate in a mass tort lawsuit, compliance with what’s known as discovery demands is necessary. These are requests from the Court and the opposing side for various documents that may serve as proof of your claims and provide additional context. For the lawsuit against Roundup, a person may have to submit their medical records. During the discovery process, Bayer and Monsanto might look for proof of cancer and information about the severity of the condition. People with advanced cancer who have received extensive treatment typically have a better chance of receiving a large settlement.
Bayer and Monsanto might also review medical records for evidence of other issues that could have led to the cancer diagnosis. A legal representative will aim to prove that Roundup is at fault for the illness in part or in whole. Law firms might have their own unique criteria for retaining plaintiffs against Roundup. For example, some firms might only accept plaintiffs with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, while others might retain clients with other related cancers. Someone may qualify for a Roundup lawsuit if they have one of the following types of cancer:
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
- T-cell lymphoma.
- B-cell lymphoma.
- Hairy cell lymphoma.
- Chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
An individual might also qualify for a lawsuit on behalf of a deceased family member. If they lost an immediate relative who had one of the above cancers and a history of Roundup usage, they should speak with an attorney about pursuing legal action.
Demonstrated use of Roundup
Next, it’s vital that a person can prove they used Roundup weed killer. Attorneys typically work with their clients to collect evidence proving the plaintiff’s use of the product. Many plaintiffs in the Roundup lawsuit used the product in a work environment. This can include occupations like:
- Herbicide applicators.
If someone has worked in agriculture, lawn care, or botany, their employment records may serve as evidence of exposure to Roundup. Even if they didn’t actively apply Roundup to plants as part of their job duties, working in an environment where it might have been used might have caused repeated exposure to glyphosate.
Many other plaintiffs used Roundup on their own accord to care for their residential properties. Law firms might also have their own criteria about personal Roundup usage, but most are open to plaintiffs who claim to have used the product several times. While it can be more difficult to verify exposure outside of the workplace, it’s certainly possible. Documents like receipts, credit card statements, and even photographs can be beneficial in proving your use of the product.
There are currently about 30,000 Roundup lawsuits awaiting news. The MDL in the Northern District of California contains about 4,000 of these cases. In May 2022, Bayer paid out the $11 billion in settlements it owed to about 100,000 plaintiffs, who earned a favorable ruling from the Courts. In June 2022, the Ninth Circuit asked the EPA to reopen its review of glyphosate, initially asking for an October 2022 deadline, and denied Bayer’s request for an appeal to a previous Roundup decision in favor of the plaintiffs.
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Bayer in July 2022 in an Alabama case. A Roundup case was supposed to go to trial in November in California, but Bayer settled it instead. Bayer continues to request appeals and pursue dismissals despite the Courts regularly ruling against the organization. In December, the 11th Court of Appeals agreed to revisit a previous verdict.
Bayer’s argument is that the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, andÂ Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) states that the EPA must approve labels. Because the EPA doesn’t consider glyphosate a carcinogen, Bayer claims they aren’t guilty of failure-to-warn accusations, as their label aligned with EPA judgments. It’s unclear if the Courts will agree with Bayer’s reasoning, but they’ve agreed toÂ rehear it.
In May 2021, Bayer released a five-step plan to address the ongoing lawsuits regarding Roundup. One key step was to stop selling glyphosate-based Roundup for residential use beginning in 2023. Glyphosate products will still be available for professional and agricultural use. Bayer claims this decision is only to manage risk, as they believe their product is safe to use.