Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Monsanto Faces Mass Tort Over Herbicide

How is a mass tort different from other personal injury lawsuits?

Monsanto Co. could be faced with mass tort actions related to claims that the company’s Roundup herbicide caused cancer in farm workers and others exposed to the chemical. Roundup is used by farmers, homeowners and others around the globe, but questions about the herbicide’s safety have dogged the company for years.

A lawsuit was filed last month in Delaware Superior Court by firms representing three plaintiffs.The suit alleges Monsanto knew about the dangers of the chemical and misinformed government agencies, farmers and the general population by saying that Roundup was safe. Meanwhile other cases have been filed in New York and California. The claims in these cases are that the main ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, is hazardous to human health. These cases rely on studies showing that glyphosate causes cancer.

The lawsuits come on the heels of a declaration by the World Health Organization in March that there is sufficient evidence to classify glyphosate as a declaration in March. Monsanto contends the WHO classification is wrong and the pesticide is safe.

A spokesperson for Monsanto said in a statement that “the most extensive worldwide human health databases ever compiled on an agricultural product contradict the claims in the suits.”

The cases involving glyphosate only add to the legal woes for Monsanto. The company has long been defending itself against claims over its past manufacturing of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which the WHO classifies as known carcinogens. Currently, as many as 700 lawsuits against Monsanto (and entities related to the company) are pending, brought on behalf of people who claim PCBs manufactured by Monsanto in the 1970s caused non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Attorneys who have filed, or are considering filing, Roundup-based litigation cited strong evidence that links glyphosate to non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). They said claims will likely be pursued collaboratively as mass tort actions.

Mass torts are civil legal actions that are pursued in state or federal court which have many plaintiffs against a sole product or device developed by one or several corporations. This makes them different from other personal injury lawsuits.