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Monsanto Continues to Disregard Risk of Cancer from Roundup, Lawsuit Alleges

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A North Carolina man diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma following years of exposure to Roundup has filed a lawsuit against Monsanto, alleging that the manufacturer of the popular weedkiller continues to ignore the cancer risks, which have been linked to thousands of similar cases nationwide.

The complaint (PDF) was filed by George R. Sumner and his wife, Monica, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri on July 31, alleging that Monsanto has provided false and misleading statements about the safety of Roundup, which were made with complete disregard and reckless indifference for the health of consumers.

The case joins a growing number of similar Roundup lawsuits that have been filed against Monsanto nationwide in recent years, each involving similar allegations that users of the weedkiller may have avoided a cancer diagnosis if the manufacturer had provided proper warnings and safety instructions.

The litigation emerged after the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) decided to classify glyphosate contained in Roundup as a likely cancer-causing agent in mid-2015.

While Monsanto has continued to maintain that their weed killer is safe, denying that there is any link between Roundup and cancer, plaintiffs allege that the company either knew or should have known about the risk, and that it failed to conduct adequate testing.

Sumner’s lawsuit notes that a string of studies have linked glyphosate to an increased risk of cancer for decades, even before the IARC assessment.

“In spite of this knowledge, Defendant continued to issue broad and sweeping statements suggesting that Roundup was, and is, safer than ordinary household items such as table salt, despite a lack of scientific support for the accuracy and validity of these statements and, in fact, voluminous evidence to the contrary,” the lawsuit states.

The case will be consolidated in the federal court system with hundreds of other claims, which are currently centralized for pretrial proceedings as part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL) before U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in the Northern District of California.

Judge Chhabria 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.

Last month he ruled that plaintiffs had enough evidence to proceed to the bellwether trial phase, where a small group of cases will be selected to go before juries, to help gauge how juries are likely to respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout the litigation.

Following the coordinated MDL proceedings, if Roundup settlements or another resolution for the litigation is not reached, thousands of individual cases may ultimately be remanded back to U.S. District Courts nationwide for individual trial dates in the future.

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