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Roundup Active Ingredient Caused Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, Lawsuit Claims

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According to allegations raised in a product liability lawsuit recently filed against Monsanto, a Texas man developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma following more than two decades of exposure to the active ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate. 

The complaint (PDF) was filed by Kevin McNew in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri on November 17, indicating that Monsanto has sold a chemical for years that it knew was defective, dangerous and unfit for distribution to consumers.

McNew’s began using the weedkiller Roundup in about 2001, indicating that has regularly exposed to the glyphosate-based herbicide because Monsanto failed to provide adequate safety warnings or precautionary instructions. He claims that the Roundup active ingredient caused non-Hodgkin lymphoma, resulting in significant damages.

According to the lawsuit, McNew first learned about the link between Roundup and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2015, when the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified glyphosate contained in Roundup as a probable human carcinogen.

The move sparked world-wide concerns about why Monsanto failed to provide warnings and recommend safety precautions for users of Roundup, and resulted in hundreds of similar Roundup lawsuits filed in courts nationwide.

As part of the on-going litigation, internal Monsanto documents produced during the discovery process have suggested that the manufacture knew about the cancer risks associated with the Roundup active ingredients for years.

“Despite the fact that Defendant knew or should have known that Roundup caused, or could cause, unreasonably dangerous side effects, Defendant continued and continues to market, manufacture, distribute, and/or sell Roundup to consumers, including the Plaintiff,” the lawsuit states. “As a result of the foregoing acts and omissions, the Plaintiff suffered from serious and dangerous side effects including, but not limited to, NHL, as well as other severe and personal injuries which are permanent and lasting in nature, physical pain and mental anguish, diminished enjoyment of life, and financial expenses for hospitalization and medical care.”

McNew’s case will be consolidated with other cases pending in the federal court system, which are centralized as part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL) pending before U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in the Northern District of California. The litigation has been consolidated for pretrial proceedings to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues, prevent conflicting rulings from different Courts and to serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the judicial system.

As part of the coordinated MDL proceedings, Judge Chhabria has previously determined that the Roundup litigation will be bifurcated, first addressing general causation about the link between the widely used weedkiller and non-Hodgkins lymphoma, as well as other forms of cancer, before addressing case-specific issues about whether Roundup caused cancer for each individual plaintiff.

Following resolution of any motions to dismiss based on general causation, if a Roundup cancer settlements or another resolution for the litigation is not reached during the first phase of discovery, it is expected that Judge Chhabria will establish a bellwether process, where a small group of cases will be prepared for early trial dates to help gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout the lawsuits.

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Photo Courtesy of Mike Mozart via Flickr Creative Commons

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