An Update on the Monsanto Roundup Lawsuits Cases

By  //  July 25, 2019

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A 12-year-old boy fighting cancer is among the newest complainants taking on Monsanto plus its owner Bayer AG in a massive lawsuit over the safety of various Roundup herbicides as well as Monsanto’s handling of scientific apprehensions about the products. 

Jake Bellah’s lawyers were in Lake Country Superior Court (California) on Monday arguing that the boy’s tender age and diagnosis of NHL (non-Hodgkin lymphoma) qualified him for a speedy trial or a ‘trial preference’.

In their motion, attorneys for the Baum Hedlund law firm asked for a trial that would start before this year ends, within four months after a judge’s order in case their motion is granted.

However, Monsanto attorneys opposed the request, claiming that the firm would need additional time to prepare a defense.

The four plaintiffs who’ve already had trials against the company were all adults found with non-Hodgkin lymphoma and were all successful. Bellah would actually be the first case of a young child diagnosed with cancer to sue Monsanto before a jury.

The San Francisco Jury’s Ruling

In May, an Oakland based jury ordered Monsanto to pay over USD 2 billion in damages to both Alberta and Alva Pilliod, a married couple suffering from non-Hodgkin Lymphoma they blame on exposure to Roundup.

In March, a San Francisco jury ordered the company to pay approximately $80 million in damages to another plaintiff (Edwin Hardeman) who has also been diagnosed with NHL. But on July 15, the judge who was presiding over that case reduced the amount to $25 million.

In the previous year, San Francisco’s state court ordered Monsanto to pay over USD 289 million in damages to Dewayne “Lee” Johnson, a school groundskeeper who suffers from a terminal type of NHL. Nonetheless, the judge, in that case, reduced the total verdict to USD 78 million. 

Bellah’s Exposure To Glyphosate-based Herbicides

Lawyers representing Bellah argued that the child was exposed to glyphosate-based herbicide products manufactured by Monsanto. They claim that this happened repeatedly over several years as he played their home’s yard and around the garden area where his parents frequently sprayed the chemicals.

Jake developed B-cell lymphoma and is currently in remission after being treated with chemotherapy. Pedram Esfandiary, who’s one of the family’s attorneys said that they’re looking forward to more trials. A ruling on the request for a quick trial regarding Bellah’s case is expected by July.

The Alameda County Superior Court Lawsuit

There is also another lawsuit that was filed on July 12 on behalf of a sick child in Alameda County Superior Court. IN that case, brought forward by the Baum Hedlund firm, the complainant is identified as G.B Bargas. Richard Bargas, the child’s father, is listed as a plaintiff representing his daughter.

Ronza Bargas, the kid’s mother is also a plaintiff. The lawsuit alleges that the kid was diagnosed with NHL triggered by prolonged exposure to Roundup.

As Bayer tries to explore whether or not to settle the cases, the number of children implicated in this mass litigation continues to increase significantly. The firm’s shares have been battered by the repeated losses in court as well as the revelation of questionable conduct with respect to the scientific scrutiny of its products.

Judge Reduces The Amount Bayer Owes Cancer Victim

A federal judge has lowered the punitive damages that Monsanto was ordered by a jury to pay to an NHL cancer patient Edwin Hardeman. The amount was reduced from USD 75 million to USD 20 million, regardless of the judge’s description of the company’s conduct towards the questions surrounding the safety of its herbicide products.

On Monday, America’s District Judge Vince Chhabria ruled that the jury’s decision to award $75 million to Hardeman was constitutionally impermissible.

The original verdict stipulated by the 6-member jury was approximated at $80 million. In fact, judge Chhabria made so many harsh remarks about Monsanto, a company that was bought by Bayer AG. He further went to claim that the evidence presented about Monsanto’s reckless behavior portrayed a lack of concern regarding the adverse risks that its products may be carcinogenic.

Monsanto Shows Minimal Concern About Its Product’s Safety

Despite the many years of colorable scientific claims that Roundup causes NHL, the company presented minimal evidence indicating that it was willing to get to the bottom of those claims.

Whilst Monsanto repeatedly says that it upholds maximum safety in the manufacturer of its products, the evidence at the trial exhibited the picture of an organization focusses on undermining those who raised the concerns.

For instance, while the jury was presented with emails of Monsanto employees attempting to explain the challenges associated with Roundup’s safety, there’s no single incident where Monsanto’s officials were shown to actively participate in conducting an objective assessment of their product.

Even more, since the jury was aware that the company has repeatedly sold Roundup and continues to sell more without any warning labels, it was evident that Monsanto’s conduct entailed repeated actions and not an isolated incident.

The judge also pointed out that no evidence was provided showing that Monsanto was aware that glyphosate triggered cancer but concealed it, hence distinguishing this case from several other cases adjudicating the conduct of tobacco companies.

Hardeman’s case is one of the countless pending cases against Monsanto for which the German firm Bayer is liable after buying the firm in June 2018. So far, 4 plaintiffs in three different trials have won damage compensations against the company.

All claim that they developed NHL (non-Hodgkin Lymphoma) after getting exposed to Monsanto’s glyphosate-based herbicides like Roundup. Besides, they allege that the firm had some scientific evidence showing various cancer risks associated with their products, but worked hard to suppress the information so as to protect its profits.

However, Michael Baum, who’s one of the lawyers leading the Roundup lawsuit, claimed that the judge’s decision wasn’t correct.

The Bottom Line

It’s no doubt that Monsanto Roundup lawsuits on products pose severe health risks. So far, four plaintiffs have been proven to develop non-Hodgkin Lymphoma after getting exposed to the company’s glyphosate-based herbicide products.

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