Roundup weedkiller has been used for years as a pesticide. The pesticide, manufactured by Monsanto, uses the active ingredient glyphosate, which many claim causes cancer. In a recent decision that has implications for Maryland injury victims and Roundup users, a federal appeals court upheld a jury verdict finding that Roundup caused the plaintiff’s cancer.
The plaintiff in the case used Roundup for years on his land in California and alleged that his use of Roundup caused his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The trial was held in 2019 and the jury awarded the plaintiff over $5 million in compensatory damages and $75 million in punitive damages. The court subsequently reduced the punitive damages award to $20 million. Two similar cases were heard in 2018 and 2019 and the juries also found in favor of the plaintiffs, awarding them millions of dollars.
On appeal, Monsanto argued in part that it did not know and could not have known that glyphosate caused cancer in 2012 when the plaintiff stopped using Roundup. However, the appeals court found there was sufficient evidence supporting a link between glyphosate and cancer that it could have known the information in 2012. For example, in 1985, the EPA found glyphosate was a possible human carcinogen. Although it changed its designation to “non-carcinogenic” in 1991, there were various studies that linked glyphosate and cancer during the 1990s. Monsanto later hired a genotoxicologist who found evidence that glyphosate might be genotoxic and recommended that Monsanto conduct tests on Roundup’s genotoxicity. Other studies that linked glyphosate and cancer were also released by 2012. Thus, there was sufficient evidence that the link between glyphosate and cancer was “knowable” by 2012.
The jury also upheld the punitive damages award. The punitive damages award was upheld because the court determined there was sufficient evidence that Monsanto acted with malice, in part by ignoring the carcinogenic risks of Roundup. The appeals court noted internal emails that supported that Monsanto was aware of the potential health risks of using Roundup, including that they had concerns about whether glyphosate was a carcinogen. The court also noted that the company failed to perform tests and studies to determine whether it was hazardous. The court upheld the punitive damages award of $20 million, finding that while it was at the “outer limits of constitutional propriety” based on the ratio of punitive damages to compensatory damages, it was constitutional.
Contact a Dedicated Personal Injury Lawyer in Maryland or Washington, D.C.
If you or a loved one has used Roundup weedkiller and later developed cancer, have your case evaluated by a Maryland injury attorney. You may be entitled to significant compensation. The Maryland product liability lawyers at Lebowitz & Mzhen can guide you through each step of the legal process, ranging from the initial investigation through settlement negotiations and any litigation that becomes necessary. We understand the struggles that you are facing, and we aim to reduce the stress on you as much as possible to help you get your life back on track. To set up a free consultation, call them toll-free at (800) 654-1949 or contact them online.