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According to allegations raised in a recently filed wrongful death lawsuit, exposure to Roundup caused non-Hodgkins lymphoma (NHL) for a California man, indicating that Monsanto failed to adequately warn about the risks associated with their popular weed killer.
The complaint (PDF) was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on November 18, by the wife and children of Harley Wooten, who died from non-Hodgkins lymphoma on November 21, 2014, after spraying Roundup on a regular basis for years.
Wooten’s surviving wife, Karen Wooten, and his sons, Harley Wooten III and Timothy Wooten, allege that their father would have taken greater precautions or used a different product if Monsanto had properly informed consumers and the medical community that the glyphosate-based herbicide may increase the risk of cancer.
While the weedkiller has been promoted by Monsanto as harmless, and is commonly found in garden centers throughout the United States, growing research suggests that Roundup may be a human carcinogen.
In March 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) linked side effects of Roundup to an increased risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, classifying glyphosate as a likely cancer-causing agent.
However, the lawsuit notes that there was scientific evidence of the link between Roundup and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma decades earlier. The family alleges that Monsanto knew or should have known about the problem as early as 1985, when investigators in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxicology department determined that glyphosate was a possible carcinogen.
“The original Roundup, containing the active ingredient glyphosate, was introduced in 1974. Today, glyphosate products are among the world’s most widely used herbicides,” the lawsuit notes. “For nearly 40 years, consumers, farmers, and the public have used Roundup, unaware of its carcinogenic properties.”
The case will join a growing number of Roundup non-Hodgkins lymphoma lawsuits filed throughout the United States, often involving farmers, landscapers or other agricultural workers regularly expose to large amounts of the weedkiller.
Given similar questions of fact and law raised in lawsuits filed through the federal court system, the Roundup cases have been centralized before U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in the Northern District of California, for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings.
The Wootens’ complaint will be transferred into this federal multidistrict litigation (MDL), where it is expected that a small group of representative claims will be prepared for early trial dates to help gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be offered throughout the litigation.
While the outcomes of these early trial dates will not binding on other claims, they may help facilitate Roundup settlements with Monsanto without the need for hundreds of individual cases to go before juries nationwide.