Idaho Lawmakers Propose Bill to Limit Pesticide Exposure Injury Lawsuits in that State
State senators in Idaho have introduced new legislation that aims to limit chemical exposure and injury lawsuits filed against pesticide manufacturers.-
The proposed Senate Bill 1245 would effectively block most failure to warn lawsuits involving pesticides, indicating that any product approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and carrying the agency’s required warning label, would have adequate warnings under Idaho state law, regardless of whether there is new evidence that the manufacturers withheld information about known health risks.
The bill has been supported by officials from Bayer, which owns the pesticide Roundup through its Monsanto subsidiary, and testified in support of the bill during an Idaho Senate Commerce and Human Resources Committee hearing on Tuesday.
Roundup Pesticide Lawsuits
Over the past eight years, more than 120,000 Roundup lawsuits have been filed throughout the U.S., each raising similar allegations that users were not adequately warned about the risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma from the weed killer, either when using the product in an agricultural setting or around the home.
The litigation emerged in 2015, when the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) decided to classify glyphosate in Roundup as a probable cancer-causing agent. However, even after resolving tens of thousands of cases, Bayer and Monsanto continue to face a steady stream of jury trials involving plaintiffs who rejected settlement offers, as well as new claims that continue to be filed as former users develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
If the Idaho bill is passed into law, it would effectively block most pesticide lawsuits in that state, according to observers. Some Idaho farming lobbying groups, fearing pesticide restrictions, have also testified in favor of the bill.
However, Idaho may be a legal battleground for more than the popularity of farming and pesticide use in that state. Soda Springs, Idaho is a major source of elemental phosphorus, which is a key Roundup ingredient, and is the only place in the western hemisphere where it is mined.
Idaho Pesticide “Immunity” Bill Opposed
The proposed bill faces sharp opposition from a number of different groups across the state, including environmentalists, consumer protection groups, conservationists and attorneys.
In a press release issued yesterday by the Idaho Conservation League, the Idaho Trial Lawyers Association and other opponents of the legislation, the groups warn that the bill would prevent injured citizens from seeking their right to restitution for pesticide injuries. They noted that similar bills have been introduced in Iowa, Florida and Missouri in recent months.
“We ask the Idaho Legislature to take a step back and look at the impact this bill would have on our farmworkers,” Marielena Vega, vice chair of the Idaho Organization of Resource Councils, said in the press release. “Farmworkers and their families deserve to be protected and should be given the right to bring forth claims against those who threaten their personal health, families, and livelihoods.”
The group noted that juries have awarded plaintiffs more than $15 billion in verdicts against Bayer due to Roundup cancer concerns. Just days ago, a Pennsylvania jury ordered the company to pay $2.2 billion as the result of a Roundup cancer lawsuit trial.
The coalition also notes that Bayer is not the only pesticide manufacturer facing litigation due to harm its products caused to consumers. Syngenta currently faces more than 5,000 Paraquat lawsuits filed in federal courts nationwide.
Each of the claims allege that Syngenta or Chevron failed to adequately disclose the link between Paraquat and Parkinson’s disease, often involving individuals who routinely sprayed, mixed, transported or handled the herbicide.
However, supporters of the bill indicate they wish to protect corporate pesticide manufacturers from massive jury verdicts, despite the fact that both the lawsuits, and the jury verdicts, would come from the very citizens they were voted into office to represent.
The committee voted 5-3 to send the bill to the senate floor.
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