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A product liability lawsuit filed against Monsanto indicates that years of Roundup exposure caused a South Carolina feed and seed store owner to develop non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a form of cancer linked to certain ingredients contained in the controversial weed killer.
John Gordon Young filed the complaint (PDF) in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina on January 9, accusing the manufacturer of failing to warn consumers about the risks of regular exposure to Roundup and its ingredients.
Gordon owned a feed and seed store in Greenville County, South Carolina, from the early 1980s until he closed it in 2008, according to the lawsuit. During that time Gordon indicates that he was exposed to Roundup on a daily basis.
“In addition to Plaintiff’s exposure to Roundup as a seller of the products, Plaintiff used Roundup both at his business and at his home for its intended and marketed purpose of killing weeds,” the lawsuit states. “Plaintiff was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2014. The development of Plaintiff’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was proximately and actually caused by exposure to Defendant’s Roundup products.”
The claim joins hundreds of similar Roundup lawsuits filed by individuals nationwide, each of which allege that long-term exposure to the weed killer and it’s active ingredient, glyphosate, resulted in the diagnosis of cancer.
Concerns about the link between Roundup and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma first arose 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.
As part of the on-going litigation against Monsanto, internal documents produced during the discovery process have suggested that the manufacturer knew about the cancer risks associated with the Roundup active ingredients for years.
Young’s claim 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 lawsuit 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.