A 12-year-old boy suffering from cancer is among the newest plaintiffs taking on Monsanto and its German owner Bayer AG in growing litigation over the safety of Roundup herbicides and Monsanto’s handling of scientific concerns about the products. Lawyers for Jake Bellah were in court Monday in Lake County Superior Court in Lakeport, California arguing that Bellah’s young age and diagnosis of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) qualified him for “trial preference,” or a speedy trial. Lawyers representing Bellah said the child was exposed to Monsanto’s glyphosate-based herbicide products repeatedly over many years as he played in his family’s yard and around their garden area where his father frequently sprayed the chemicals. Bellah developed B-cell lymphoma and has been hospitalized and treated with chemotherapy and is currently in remission, according to Pedram Esfandiary, one of the family’s attorneys.
We’ve been reporting for years on the negative health effects of glyphosate, the active ingredient in the Roundup herbicide. While world bodies like the World Health Organization say that glyphosate is a “probable carcinogen,” the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maintains that glyphosate is safe. Let’s not forget, though, that cronyism mars the EPA decision: unsealed court documents showed that a top EPA official (Jess Rowland) promised Monsanto he would quash efforts by the Department of Health to conduct its own review of glyphosate. So much for the federal government protecting the interests of people rather than special interests. There are now 13,400 cases pending that allege Roundup causes cancer. We hope these legal developments accomplish what government regulators were unable (or unwilling) to do: get glyphosate off the market for good.
After less than two full days of deliberations, a California jury ordered Monsanto to pay just over $2 billion in punitive and compensatory damages to a married couple who both developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma they say was caused by their many years of using Roundup products. After listening to 17 days of trial testimony, jurors said Monsanto must pay $1 billion to Alberta Pilliod, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma brain cancer in 2015, and another $1 billion to her husband Alva Pilliod, who was diagnosed in 2011 with non-Hodgkin lymphoma that spread from his bones to his pelvis and spine. The couple, who are both in their 70s, started using Roundup in the 1970s and continued using the herbicide until only a few years ago. The jury also awarded the couple a total of $55 million in damages for past and future medical bills and other losses. In ordering punitive damages, the jury had to find that Monsanto “engaged in conduct with malice, oppression or fraud committed by one or more officers, directors or managing agents of Monsanto” who were acting on behalf of the company. Pilliod v. Monsanto is the third Roundup cancer case to go to trial. And it is the third to conclude that Monsanto’s glyphosate-based herbicides can cause cancer and that Monsanto has long known about – and covered up – the risks.
Monsanto Not Only Problem Facing Bayer: Investors Question Ethics in Selling Banned Pesticides in Brazil
Bayer CEO Werner Baumann recently lost a crucial confidence vote as investors questioned his handling of the $63 billion Monsanto deal and the wave of US lawsuits that followed. In what Bloomberg called "a stunning development for the German drugs and chemicals company", about 55 percent of shareholders voted against absolving Baumann and other managers of responsibility for their actions in the takeover last year. The vote threw Baumann's future into question and prompted an immediate supervisory board session. While much of the investor unrest undoubtedly focuses on financial liability, strong concerns are being raised about Bayer's ethics. At Bayer's annual general meeting, Christian Russau from the umbrella organization, the Critical Shareholders, made a speech in which he launched a scathing attack on the company for its "double standards". According to Russau, Bayer sells pesticides in Brazil that are banned in the EU. Russau said he feared that companies such as Bayer will continue to participate, perhaps more than ever, in the sale and distribution of highly toxic agrochemicals in Brazil. As a survival tactic in the face of Monsanto's multi-billion dollar acquisition, Bayer will go for growth at any price. Any poison which can be sold will be sold.
Jury Slams Monsanto for Corporate Malfeasance in Roundup Cancer Trial, Awards $80 Million in Damages
Today, a second jury in less that 8 months found Bayer-Monsanto’s signature weedkiller Roundup responsible for causing cancer. The verdict in the case Hardeman v. Monsanto before a federal district court in San Francisco found exposure to glyphosate, the signature ingredient in Roundup, caused plaintiff Edward Hardeman’s non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Jurors awarded $80 million in damages to Hardeman. “Clearly, the testimony that informed the jury’s decision was Bayer-Monsanto hiding Roundup’s carcinogenic properties, manipulating the science and cozying-up with EPA so it would not have to warn consumers of its dangerous product,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “Bayer-Monsanto has known for decades the cancer-causing properties of Roundup and I applaud the jury for holding the company accountable for failing to warn consumers of the known danger. This verdict puts Bayer’s back firmly up against the wall as the cost of litigation mounts and its stock price gets pummeled once again,” said Cook.
A high-stakes federal trial kicked off in California involving a man diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma who is seeking compensation from Monsanto/Bayer because, he claims, its weedkiller Roundup caused his cancer. Even before the trial started, the judge’s behaviour was already making waves, prompting Robert Howard to write [an] article, warning that Judge Vincent Chhabria was “already hindering testimony”. Howard was one of the jurors who back in August of last year, at the culmination of the first case brought against Monsanto – a state rather than a federal case – ordered the company to pay $289 million in damages for having acted with “malice” in hiding the dangers of Roundup. Howard, however, probably never guessed the degree to which Judge Chhabria would hinder testimony once the actual trial got underway, leading to the Guardian headline Monsanto: judge threatens to 'shut down' cancer patient's lawyer.
Judge Rules Monsanto’s Attempts to Ghostwrite Studies and Influence Findings of Scientists and Regulators to be Allowed in Court
A federal judge overseeing lawsuits alleging Bayer AG's glyphosate-based Roundup weed killer causes cancer on Monday tentatively allowed pieces of controversial evidence that the company had hoped to exclude from upcoming trials. The company denies allegations that glyphosate causes cancer and says decades of independent studies have shown the chemical to be safe for human use. Chhabria on Monday said plaintiffs could introduce some evidence of Monsanto's alleged attempts to ghostwrite studies and influence the findings of scientists and regulators during the first phase of upcoming trials. He said documents which showed the company taking a position on the science or a study introduced during the first phase were "super relevant."
Judge Rejects Monsanto’s Bid to Overturn Glyphosate Conviction but Reduces Punitive Damages from $250 Million to $39 Million
Earlier this week (October 2018) San Francisco Superior Court Judge Suzanne Ramos Bolanos rejected Monsanto’s appeal to overturn the jury verdict which found that glyphosate in the herbicide RoundUp causes cancer. Judge Bolanos had earlier hinted that she might overturn the jury's verdict, and eliminate the $250 million in punitive damages. While denying Monsanto's attorneys their request for a new trial, Judge Bolanos did reduce the punitive damages from $250 million to $39 million, the same amount (39 million) that was awarded to the plaintiff, Dewayne Johnson, who is not expected to live much longer due to his cancer diagnosis. Judge Bolanos also stated that if Dewayne Johnson and his attorneys did not accept the reduction in punitive damages, that she would order a new trial. Johnson’s lawyers said in a statement that the “reduction in punitive damages was unwarranted” and that his legal team, Baum Hedlund and the Miller Firm, was “weighing the options.” Bayer, now the parent company for Monsanto, stated that they would file another appeal of the jury's verdict.
Judge Says She Will Overturn Jury Conviction of Monsanto and Nullify $250 Million Award in Damages Over Glyphosate Injuries
A San Francisco judge cast doubt recently on a jury’s $289 million damage award to a former Bay Area groundskeeper who was diagnosed with cancer after frequently spraying school grounds with a widely used weed-killer manufactured by Monsanto Co. Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bolanos said in a tentative ruling that she would likely overturn $250 million in punitive damages because there was no convincing evidence that Monsanto had knowingly manufactured a harmful product or acted “despicably” toward the plaintiff, Dewayne “Lee” Johnson. Bolanos did not announce a final ruling, but showed little indication during the hearing that she was reconsidering her tentative decision on punitive damages. “I’m not following your argument,” she told Miller at one point after the lawyer said Monsanto had failed to properly test its product or study its effects. “You may not have been convinced by the evidence but we were,” juror Gary Kitahata said in a letter to Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bolanos, who is considering Monsanto’s requests to reduce the damages or overturn the entire verdict. “I urge you to respect and honor our verdict and the six weeks of our lives that we dedicated to this trial.” Another juror, Robert Howard, said in his letter to the judge that the jury had paid “studious attention” to the evidence, closely followed Bolanos’ instruction and deliberated for several days. The possibility that “our unanimous verdict could be summarily overturned demeans our system of justice and shakes my confidence in that system,” Howard wrote.
A California jury recently found Monsanto liable for a groundskeeper’s cancer, ordering the company to pay out $289 million. It was the first lawsuit that went to trial alleging that Roundup and other glyphosate-based weed-killers cause cancer. Other research shows that cancer may only be the tip of the iceberg in describing the toll this chemical is taking on our health. There have been hundreds of lawsuits filed against Monsanto alleging that glyphosate, the active ingredient in the Roundup herbicide, causes cancer, and now finally the courts are taking the claims seriously as a federal judge recently ruled that these cases can proceed to trial. The World Health Organization has labeled glyphosate a “probable carcinogen” and yet the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says it isn’t—although we shouldn’t be surprised, given the crony ties that have been exposed between top EPA officials and the biotech industry. The EPA can’t be counted on to protect our health. How is this chemical possibly in the market? Tell the EPA to ban glyphosate!