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Roundup Follicular Lymphoma Case Filed Against Monsanto Over Failure to Warn About Weedkiller Risks

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Years of exposure to the weedkiller Roundup allegedly caused an Arizona property owner to develop follicular lymphoma, according to a lawsuit recently filed against Monsanto. 

The complaint (PDF) was filed by Rudy Fuentes in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona on October 30, joining a growing number of lawsuits filed by consumers nationwide who allege that they may have avoided a cancer diagnosis if warnings had been provided about the cancer risks from the weedkiller.

Fuentes indicates that he used Roundup on property in and around Peoria, Arizona from 2002 through 2004, and then used it on properties in Surprise and Glendale Arizona from 2004 through 2015. As a direct result of the exposure, the lawsuit alleges Roundup caused follicular lymphoma diagnosed in November 2017.

The case raises allegations similar to those presented in thousands of Roundup cases filed by individuals nationwide, which indicate that glyphosate contained in the weedkiller has caused users to develop various types of non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

Follicular lymphoma accounts for about 20% of all non-Hodgkins’ lymphoma diagnoses, and is a slow growing tumor that, if left untreated, can transform and become far more aggressive.

According to the lawsuit, Monsanto intentionally hid the risks of Roundup despite years of scientific evidence that it could be linked to non-Hodgkins lymphoma and follicular lymphoma risks.

“Monsanto was under a continuous duty to disclose to consumers, users and other person coming into contact with its products, including Plaintiff, accurate safety information concerning its products and the risks associated with the use of and/or exposure to Roundup and glyphosate,” Fuentes states in his lawsuit. “Instead, Monsanto knowingly, affirmatively, and actively concealed safety information concerning Roundup and glyphosate and the serious risks associated with the use of and/or exposure to its products.”

Fuentes’ Roundup follicular lymphoma case will be consolidated with other complaints filed in the federal court system, which are centralized as part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL) before U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in the Northern District of California.

Given similar questions of fact and law, pretrial proceedings have been consolidated before Judge Chhabria for coordinated discovery and a series of early “bellwether” trials, which are designed to gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout the litigation. A number of cases originally filed in California are set to go before juries starting in February 2019.

In late August, a California state court jury heard evidence in the first case in the nation to reach trial, involving claims brought by DeWayne Johnson, a former school groundskeeper who was given an early trial date because he is dying from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. After considering evidence in that case, the jury found that Monsanto should be harshly punished for failing to warn Johnson and other consumers about the Roundup weedkiller risks, awarding $289 million in compensatory and punitive damages.

While the verdict was subsequently reduced to $78 million by the trial judge, it may provide signals about the substantial liability Monsanto may face if it fails to settle Roundup non-Hodgkins lymphoma cases or otherwise resolve the litigation.

In addition to the federal trials, a number of additional state court cases are set to go before juries in 2019, including individual cases scheduled to begin in Missouri in February, April, June and September, and a multi-plaintiff trial involving 15 different individuals diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma from Roundup, which is set to go before a jury in October 2019.

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