Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Lawsuit Filed Over Roundup Sprayed on Sod Farm

Monsanto faces a new product liability lawsuit over non-Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosed in a woman who lived on a sod farm, alleging that side effects of Roundup exposure caused her to develop the cancer.

The complaint (PDF) was filed in California state court on January 20, by Brenda and James Huerta, who lived on a Superior Sod Farm where the weedkiller Roundup was sprayed regularly from about 2004 to 2008. Last week, Monsanto removed the case to the federal court system.

The Huertas alleges that they were both exposed to high levels of Roundup and the herbicide glyphosate, which the World Health Organization (WHO) has recently classified as a probable human carcinogen.

Although Monsanto allegedly knew or should have known about the link between exposure to Roundup and cancer, the lawsuit indicates that the manufacturer provided inadequate warnings and took insufficient steps to reduce the risk of individuals being exposed to the chemical.

The couple alleges that they were exposed to glyphosate through the air, water, soil and other means, indicating that Brenda Huerta was later diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma from Roundup in March 2013.

Superior Sod is also named as a defendant in the non-Hodgkin lymphoma lawsuit, alleging that the company caused the Roundup to be applied to and around the couple’s residence, and failed to exercise reasonable care to avoid exposing the plaintiffs to the chemical.

Roundup Exposure

Roundup is one of the most widely used herbicides in the United States, which was introduced by Monsanto in the 1970s.

Although it has been widely marketed as safe, concerns have emerged over the past year about the safety of Roundup, after the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) issued a warning in March 2015, which indicated that exposure to glyphosate-based herbicides may cause cancer..

The IARC specifically noted that non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a form of cancer that may be connected to Roundup and other glyphosate-based weedkillers.

According to the complaint filed by the Huartas, even before the WHO warning, an EPA technical fact sheet on glyphosate described the release patterns of the chemical, suggesting that occupational workers, home gardeners and others could be exposed in a variety of ways. The report warned that Roundup exposure may occur by “inhalation and dermal contact during spraying, mixing and cleanup,” as well as by “touching soil and plants to which glyphosate was applied,” according to the lawsuit.

The Huertas also note that in 1995, a report by the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides warned that glyphosate was the third most commonly reported cause of pesticide-related illness among California agricultural workers.

“[Monsanto] knew or should have known at the time of marketing its Roundup products that exposure to Roundup and specifically, its active ingredient glyphosate, could result in cancer and other severe illnesses,” states the complaint. “At the time Roundup products left [Monsanto’s] control, there was a practical, technically feasible and safer alternative design that would have prevented harm without substantially impairing the reasonably anticipated or intended function of Defendant’s herbicides.”

Roundup Cancer Lawsuits

The case will join a growing number of Roundup cancer lawsuits filed by individuals in courts throughout the U.S., each raising similar allegations that Monsanto failed to conduct adequate post-marketing surveillance of its Roundup products and failed to employ safer alternative designs and formulations.

While the Huertas originally filed their case in California state court, including Superior Sod Farm as a local defendant in the case, Monsanto filed a notice of removal (PDF) on January 26, sending the case to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

The manufacturer alleges that Superior Sod was fraudulently joined in the case, indicating that the plaintiffs made no factual allegation in their complaint that Superior Sod had actual knowledge of or should have had knowledge of the alleged cancer risk with Roundup.

“This is a product liability action against Monsanto. All of plaintiffs’ factual allegations concern alleged labeling and warning defects surrounding use of Roundup,” state the manufacturer in the Notice of Removal. “Nowhere in plaintiffs’ 20-page complaint do they make any specific factual allegations of liability for allegedly dangerous properties of Roundup against Superior Sod defendants. Plaintiffs thus have failed to adequately state a products liability claim or strict liability claim against Superior Sod. Further, as a matter of law, Superior Sod may not be held liable in strict liability for applying a pesticide/herbicide.”

Since concerns about the cancer risk with Roundup emerged last year, Monsanto has continued to defend their blockbuster weedkiller.

The manufacturer has attempted to challenge the findings that Roundup is a human carcinogen, maintaining that the IARC’s conclusions were agenda-driven and based on “junk science.” The company is also suing the state of California to prevent it from placing a warning label on all glyphosate-containing products which would indicate that it could cause cancer.

Consumer use of Roundup began to skyrocket in the mid 1990s, after Monsanto introduced genetically engineered crops to withstand treatment with Roundup, killing the weeds and not the crops. Genetically modified crops, like corn and soybean, are branded as being “Roundup Ready.” Some weeds have developed resistance to glyphosate, thus forcing farmers to use higher quantities of Roundup.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimated agricultural use of glyphosate increased drastically from 110 million pounds in 2002, now to more than 283 million pounds in 2012.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced in April that it plans to address the safety concerns of glyphosate during the regular EPA safety review hearing occurring soon. Researchers warn pesticides are commonly detected in the air, food and water near areas that have been sprayed.

1 Comments

  • LindaFebruary 4, 2016 at 3:13 pm

    I was exposed to roundup as they sprayed it at work all the time. This exposure finally made be go into anaphylactic shock. Luckily I work next to hospital. Since then I have had rashes and hives which they can not say what is causing this reaction. I have also had breast cancer. I can not prove any of this was caused by round up. Why are they still selling it? Also cider vinegar will kill weeds a[Show More]I was exposed to roundup as they sprayed it at work all the time. This exposure finally made be go into anaphylactic shock. Luckily I work next to hospital. Since then I have had rashes and hives which they can not say what is causing this reaction. I have also had breast cancer. I can not prove any of this was caused by round up. Why are they still selling it? Also cider vinegar will kill weeds and a lot cheaper.

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