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Monsanto Non-Hodgins Lymphoma Lawsuit Results in $46.5M Verdict Over PCB Exposure

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The global agricultural chemical company Monsanto was recently ordered to pay $46.5 million to three plaintiffs who allegedly developed non-Hodgkins lymphoma from exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), raising questions about the extent of liability the corporation may face from similar cases in the future. 

A St. Louis jury returned the bellwether verdict in May, involving a case brought over the release of PCBs introduced by Monsanto into the environment, which got into the food chain and allegedly increased the plaintiffs risk of cancer.

While Monsanto has indicated that it plans to appeal the verdict in the non-Hodgkins lymphoma lawsuit, the company faces a number of similar claims.

At issue is the company’s use of PCBs years ago in its previous incarnation, before the company was restructured in 2002. Before that, Monsanto produced and sold more than 99% of all PCBs ever sold in the U.S., according to some estimates, making it possible for plaintiffs to pin the liability from any health effects from those chemicals onto the company.

Used for a variety of purposes, such as paints, lubricants, electrical products, coolant, hydraulic fluids and in paper production, PCBs have been banned for decades due to high toxicity and increased rates of cancer linked to exposure. However, the plaintiffs allege that Monsanto, the sole manufacturer of PCBs from 1935 to 1977, knew or should have known about the risks of PCBs as early as 1955, yet failed to warn the public.

In what became known as the Walker case, plaintiffs indicated that exposure through the food chain led to their cases of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Noting that the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer had warned of a link between PCBs and cancer.

Plaintiffs argued that the company contaminated the entire food chain with PCBs, which could, theoretically, give anyone who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma the ability to bring a case, if they can convince a jury of specific causation, which they were able to do before the St. Louis jury.

Monsanto also currently faces PCB water contamination lawsuits from the cities of San Jose, Oakland, Berkeley, San Diego, Spokane and Seattle, with at least six different complaints filed in four different U.S. District Courts naming the manufacturer as a defendant, together with Solutia, Inc. and Pharmacia, Inc. in some of the claims.

The communities now face tens or hundreds of millions in environmental cleanup costs associated with PCB water contamination.

Roundup Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma Lawsuits In the U.S.

Potentially doubling the company’s trouble is the fact that in March 2015 the IARC also warned that the herbicide glyphosate is a likely cancer causing agent, suggesting that exposure to the company’s widely used herbicide and weedkiller Roundup may increase the risk of non-Hodgkins lymphoma as well. The warning set off worldwide concerns about the potential side effects of Roundup, and the overuse of the product on farms and crops throughout the U.S.

It raises the possibility of the company facing increased litigation pressure, as the company could face both PCB cases and Roundup non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma lawsuits by those who say exposure led to their cancer. However, most Roundup cases have focused on agricultural workers, farmers and greenhouse employees who had direct and heavy exposure to Roundup, and not claims of exposure through the food chain.

A recent U.S. Geological Survey on glyphosate usage nationwide found that an estimated 2.6 billion pounds of the herbicide has been sprayed on America’s agricultural land over the two decades since the mid-1990s, when Monsanto introduced “Roundup Ready” crops that are designed to survive being sprayed with glyphosate, killing the weeds but not the crops.

In all that time, the FDA has never tested for residue or buildup in the food sold to Americans nationwide. In a report published in 2014, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) criticized the FDA for this deficiency in its pesticide program.

Monsanto now faces a growing number of Roundup cancer lawsuits in the United States, typically involving individuals diagnosed with a form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma following heavy exposure to the herbicide as a farm or agricultural worker.

The complaints allege that plaintiffs may have avoided a cancer diagnosis if they had been warned about the Roundup risks for farmers, landscapers and others in the agricultural industry, as safety precautions could have been taken or other products could have been used to control the growth of weeds.

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13 comments

  1. Jane Reply

    I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in January of 2017

  2. diana Reply

    I Was diagnosed with non-hodgkins lyphoma May of 2012, and much chemo, I was diagnosed again Feb of 2014 this time in the brain. I always used roundup in my gardens for many years prior to getting cancer

  3. jennifer Reply

    i was diagnosed with NHL in 2015

  4. Renitta Reply

    I was diagnosed in 2015 -16 with non Hodgkin lymphoma cancer i was 27 yrs old with 2 very small kids i was normal with a bright future ahead of me and my babies before all of this came about i worked and i was a mother and when i found out i had this my life took a turn for the worst i couldn’t b around my kids i was isolated from the world and my children i thought at one point in my life i was going to die i was scared because i was so young and did not have answers on y this is happening to me everything i had worked hard for was gone in a blink of a eye as i laid in a hospital bed and fighting for my life… And yes i finished chemotherapy treatment and it was very intense and painful i got thru it but my life is still not normal…

  5. Everett Reply

    I was diagnosed in 2003 with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and had to have a bowel resection was in the hospital for one month with chemotherapy. This happened about six months after my wife’s death.

  6. Lacey Reply

    My late husband worked on a farm from age 16 until we were married at age 20. He used Round up. He was diagnosed with Large B-Cell Non Hodgkins Lymphoma at age 26. He died from this cancer at age 27. We had 3 small children. The youngest was only a few months old when he was diagnosed.

  7. Cindy Reply

    My father used roundup to kill weeds and poison oak and ivy for decades, as well as having to use lubricants in the production of oil well equipment. He was diagnosed with mantle cell lymphoma an NHL that kills quickly in 2005 I think. He passed away in 2011, this just proves how dangerous Monsanto is, and our government has allowed this company to grow GMO seeds which are now in our food supply.

  8. roberta Reply

    My mother was diagnosed with Large B-Cell Non Hodgkins Lymphoma in 2015 and she only lasted 11 weeks and passed away. I remember her using round-up all the time in her yard for her plants.

  9. Bonnie Reply

    I was diagnosed with non hogkins lymphoma in 2010. I was born in 1944 and lived in a small town surrounded by cotton fields. I lived there until 1963. The town was constantly being sprayed with pesticides.

  10. Donna Reply

    My Mother was diagnosed about 4years ago, she grew up on a farm and used it, when she moved into town she used it all the time in her yard and around the fence and at my grandparents place ,she swore by this (deadly) product. she went through Chemo & Radiation, that did put it into remission for about a year or so..it came back and spread like wild fire and she was at stage 4, she passed away in 2014 the cancer had spread through all the lymph nodes in her body , the Hospital and Doctors said that this kind of cancer was rare.. but no one knew or linked the cause of this till last year I guess. this product put her through all kinds of H##L.

  11. Alice Reply

    My son worked on a farm since the age of 11, he went from picking crops to driving tractor and all the other jobs farmers do. In 1997, at the age of 22, he was diagnosed with non Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He went through brutal Chemo and Radiation. He’s been in remission but cannot have children.

  12. Frederick Reply

    I had NON Hodgkins- lymphoma in 2002 and I went thru chemo.. at cook county Hospital

  13. Beverley J Reply

    I used Roundup every 2 weeks from 1999 thru 2011 to prevent grass and weeds from cracking a concrete & brick courtyard, then patios the last year. I worked as an RN until 2006, sustained permanent and total industrial injury, but my injury improved and my MDs permitted me to return to work 2015. I had no idea that I had St 3 nonHodgkins Lymphoma until abrupt diagnosis Feb 2016. I require lifetime costly monitoring and possibly immunotherapy. In remission, which is not a cure, no $ help from the Lymphoma Society. Fixed income, uncertain future, isolation and thoughts of suicide.

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