When the next lawsuit alleging Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer causes non-Hodgkin lymphoma goes to trial next week, the first phase will delve into the scientific evidence. But what the plaintiff’s attorneys can’t say in that portion of the trial is that the World Health Organization’s (WHO) intergovernmental agency on cancer research classifies Roundup’s active ingredient glyphosate as a probable carcinogen.
Last month, District Judge Vince Chhabria, who oversees about 680 cases in the federal litigation involving Roundup claims, split the trial into two parts. The first phase will focus on whether plaintiff Edward Hardeman’s cancer diagnosis was caused by his use of Roundup. If so, the second phase will proceed to determine Bayer/Monsanto’s liability.
Monsanto, which was acquired by Bayer AG last year, sought to have the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer’s classification of glyphosate as a probable carcinogen omitted from the first phase. But Judge Chhabria also allowed Hardeman’s bid to omit a 2017 draft risk assessment by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which found glyphosate an unlikely carcinogen.
Several pieces of evidence will be excluded in the first phase of the trial, including references to Monsanto ghostwriting articles for scientific journals promoting the safety of glyphosate. But, Judge Chhabria said that information could be used in the second phase.
Hardeman’s case follows the landmark trial of Dewayne “Lee” Jackson, a school groundskeeper who, last August, was awarded $289 million after a California jury found his non-Hodgkin lymphoma was caused by exposure to glyphosate. His award was later reduced to $78 million.
Monsanto/Bayer face more than 8,000 lawsuits alleging exposure to glyphosate in Roundup causes the rare cancer of the lymphatic system. California Superior Court Judge Winifred Smith is considering splitting the first bellwether in a multidistrict litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, in a case of Alva and Alberta Pilliod, a husband and wife who each developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma after using Roundup in their garden.