There are currently approximately 9,300 lawsuits pending in the nation.

By: Jene Bastian, Senior Insurance Analyst

Glyphosate is the main ingredient found in weed killer chemicals like Round-up and Ranger-Pro, both made by Monsanto (nka Bayer). Claims and lawsuits are popping up throughout the nation by users of these products, alleging that Glyphosate causes Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (a cancer affecting the lymph nodes) and other cancers. Claims are also being made asserting that Glyphosate is killing off the bee population.

What is Glyphosate?

Glyphosate was marketed by Monsanto (Bayer) in 1974 under the name of Round-up and later Ranger Pro. Round-up is the pre-mixed formula marketed to the general consumer. Ranger Pro is a more potent formula that must be mixed by the user and can only be purchased from commercial dealers.  Glyphosate was developed and used to target an enzyme found only in plants, in an effort to kill weeds. The end users of this popular weed killer are landscapers, homeowners, farmers, custodial crews, and pest control service workers, to name a few.   

What’s the Impact of Glyphosate’s on Humans?

As time passed, people began developing Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and other cancers, the causal relationship between Glyphosate and cancer became the focus of some studies. One of the first studies was conducted in 2015 by the International Agency for Research, an affiliate of the World Health Organization. The study found that Glyphosate may alter DNA, and it caused cancer in lab animals. The overall statement and finding of the study is that Glyphosate “probably causes cancer”.  

Additional studies were conducted in 2016 by both the World Health Organization and the U.N. Both of these studies concluded Glyphosate is “unlikely to cause a risk for cancer”. The Critical Review in Toxicologystudy concluded there was “no causal connection between Glyphosate and cancer”. 

Glyphosate Lawsuits

As this ‘ticking time bomb’ of litigation unfolds, both sides take opposing views. Monsanto, who has been accused of manipulating the 2016 studies, claims Glyphosate is safe. Further, Monsanto claims that alleged experts are spewing unsupported evidence to implicate its product as a cancer-causing agent. Conversely, Plaintiffs’ firms allege there is enough evidence linking Glyphosate and cancer, and that Monsanto is behind the biased studies in its favor.  

In a recent California case, Monsanto argued that latency period is a relevant factor when considering the potential affects of Glyphosate. Monsanto claimed the normal latency period for blood-related cancers is falling short. On the other hand, Plaintiffs argue Monsanto knows the dangers of its product and has been hiding information and failing to warn consumers of potential dangers.

The Dewayne Johnson v. Monsantoverdict that came down in 2018 has raised the profile of the impending explosion of Glyphosate litigation. In this California case, a school groundskeeper developed Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and sued Monsanto for his occupational exposure to using Round up and Ranger Pro. The jury awarded the plaintiff $289 million ($39 million compensatory damages) and the remainder in punitive damages. The judge reduced the verdict to $78.5 million.  

What’s Next?

There are currently approximately 9,300 lawsuits pending in the nation. In the Multi-District litigation in California, around 600 cases have been consolidated. As the litigation escalates on this topic, new studies will begin to unfold that will likely produce a more solid foundation of evidence which will weigh in one party’s favor. On which side the scales of justice will fall remains unknown for now, but the litigation continues to grow exponentially.

PolicyFind™ is an insurance archeology firm and the nation’s leader in locating historical insurance coverage that applies to latent injury claims and environmental claims.  

If you represent clients whom are impacted by this litigation or by this emerging issue, contact us for a confidential consultation.  


 

Jené Bastian brings more than two decades of experience in the environmental claims and toxic tort arena to the PolicyFind team. As a complex claims adjuster for Travelers Insurance, she handled asbestos bodily injury, mold, food poisoning, hazardous waste and other latent injury type claims from chemical exposure.  She also has extensive experience in policy analysis/interpretation of Commercial General Liability, Umbrella, Excess, and Contractor’s policies.