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.