Class Action Roundup Lawsuit Filed Over Fraudulent Marketing of Weedkiller in Missouri

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Bayer and it’s Monsanto subsidiary face a class action lawsuit over Roundup in Missouri, which seeks to refund the cost paid by residents of the state when purchasing the controversial weedkiller, alleging that it was fraudulently marketed as safe, despite known health risks.

The complaint was filed last week in Jackson County Circuit Court, seeking class action status for all Missouri residents who purchased Roundup weed killer products. However, the proposed class specifically excludes individuals pursuing Roundup lawsuits over non-Hodgkins lymphoma or other specific injuries they developed after exposure to the herbicide.

The Missouri plaintiffs allege that Monsanto committed consumer fraud with its marketing and advertising of Roundup products, violating the state’s laws by claiming that Roundup is safe, despite having scientific evidence for decades that indicated Roundup exposure could cause cancer and other health problems.

On June 25, Bayer sent a response to The Business Journal in St. Louis, responding to a report about the class action Roundup lawsuit, claiming that the the action has no merit, since the active ingredient in the weedkiller was approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as safe.

However, that assessment is under a cloud, following the release of documents known as the “Monsanto Papers,” which were uncovered during ongoing litigation against the company and suggest that Monsanto exercised undue influence over the EPA and European regulators.

Documents detailed how Monsanto employees and lobbyists were able to call up EPA officials and potentially have safety reviews altered or even cancelled. Monsanto also was the ghost-writer behind several supposedly independent Roundup safety studies and actually wrote part of a safety review that was supposedly written by European regulators.

Those revelations, and the science presented in recent trials involving claims brought by individuals diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma from Roundup, have resulted in several different juries finding that the manufacturer knew or should have known about the cancer risk, and withheld information. In three trials over the past year, Bayer has suffered devastating losses, including large punitive damage awards designed to punish the company for the actions of its Monsanto unit.

The first trial was held in California state court last summer, ending in a $289 million jury verdict, which was later reduced to a final judgment of about $78 million following post-trial motions.

A second trial was held in federal court earlier this year, resulting in a verdict of $80 million, despite a format that was widely thought to heavily favor the manufacturer.

Finally, a third trial concluded last month with a landmark $2 billion verdict in California state court, after considering evidence in a lawsuit brought by a husband and wife who were each diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma following use of Roundup.

Bayer faces more than 15,000 other claims brought by individuals nationwide. While the cases are being managed during pretrial proceedings in a manner similar to a class action, each of the complaints involve individual damages and the manufacturer may face thousands of separate trials if Roundup settlements or another resolution is not reached.

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Photo Courtesy of Mike Mozart via Flickr Creative Commons

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