LOS ANGELES – A new case initially filed in Missouri against Monsanto claiming its herbicide Roundup directly caused cancer mirrors similar ones making their way through the California courts.
The latest complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri on March 20 and has since been transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
In the complaint, plaintiff Kerry Pfleigier maintains that Monsanto's Roundup and/or its key ingredient glyphosate is "defective, dangerous to human health, unfit and unsuitable to be marketed and sold in commerce, and lacked proper warnings and directions as to the dangers associated with its use."
"As a direct and proximate result of being exposed to Roundup, plaintiff developed non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2016," the complaint states.
The filing is similar to actions in various parts of the country, including in the Northern District of California.
John Doherty, president of the Civil Justice Association of California (CJAC), a tort reform organization, said one of the key questions in the state is whether Roundup deserves to be added to the Proposition 65 list, which lists products claimed cause cancer or birth defects.
"Nobody wants to promote something that causes cancer or birth defects," Doherty told the Northern California Record. "The manufacturer seems to have the evidence on its side and yet there are groups that have declared it hazardous."
That is the issue being litigated.
In the California cases and in the Pfleigier case, the plaintiffs do have a chance of prevailing, Doherty said, if only because science seems to be ignored in some situations and within some courts.
"The problem with litigation is you never know," he said.
Doherty added, "Monsanto is very concerned ... because they work very hard to develop a product that certainly is used to control weed growth and other things, but they would not be marketing it if they thought it was something that was causing cancer in people."
In a recent hearing, U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria of the Northern District of California described as "shaky" the testimony of two experts who testified the weed killer caused this type of cancer or likely did so.
Chhabria has called the two experts - Dr. Beate Ritz and Dr. Christopher Portier - back and will then decide whether a jury will hear their testimony. Chhabria is in charge of the consolidated cases filed against Monsanto.
Their testimony contradicts a recent study by the National Cancer Institute, a government agency, and goes beyond the conclusion of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which found glyphosate is "probably carcinogenic."