Last week, a California jury determined Monsanto’s popular Roundup weed killer was a “substantial factor” in causing a longtime customer’s non-Hodgkin lymphoma. What was left to figure out was how culpable the company was in creating a dangerous product and failing to warn consumers. We now have our answer.
In phase two of Edwin Hardeman’s trial, the same jury ordered Monsanto to pay him more than $80 million for failing to include Roundup’s cancer-causing risk on the label.
A Dangerous Product?
“The evidence is overwhelming that Roundup can cause non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma,” Hardeman’s lawyer, Jennifer Moore, told The New York Times. “And despite that, Monsanto continues to deny that.” Moore claimed Monsanto ignored scientific evidence regarding Roundup’s harmful health effects, leading the jury to hold the company accountable.
The science on Roundup, it seems, is split. The World Health Organization deemed glyphosate, a main weed-killing ingredient, “probably carcinogenic” in 2015. But the EPA in 2017 claimed glyphosate it was “not likely to be carcinogenic to humans.” Now, a newer study relied upon by expert witnesses in Hardeman’s trial linked large doses of the chemical to a heightened risk for non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
In the end, the jury was convinced enough to award Hardeman more than $200,000 for medical bills (he underwent chemotherapy treatments and his attorneys claim his cancer is in remission), and another $5 million for his past and future suffering. The remaining $75 million of the award is punitive damages, based on Roundup’s negligence and failure to warn.
Proving fault in a product liability case is no easy task, and generally require proof that the manufacturer knew its product was dangerous. Claims against chemical manufacturers can be based on:
Defects in Design: The chemical is inherently unreasonably dangerous to consumers;
Defects in Manufacturing: The chemical was improperly manufactured, dangerously departing from the intended composition; or
Defects in Warnings: The chemical product lacks adequate instructions or warnings, rendering it unreasonably dangerous.
In this case, the jury was sufficiently swayed that Monsanto knew Roundup was dangerous and failed to place adequate warning labels on the glyphosate-based product.
If you have more specific questions about product liability cases or feel you’ve been injured by a dangerous product, contact a local personal injury attorney.