Leading plaintiffs law firm Grant & Eisenhofer has filed suit in California state court against Monsanto Co., maker of the herbicide Roundup, on behalf of Sacramento-area resident Michael Langford, who asserts his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other cancers were caused by decades-long exposure to Roundup’s chemical ingredients, notably glyphosate.
The action in California follows a suit G&E filed earlier in June against Monsanto in Delaware Superior Court on behalf of an Ohio resident who believes her non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was also the result of many years’ exposure to Roundup in the care of her home garden.
Glyphosate is a Group 2A enzyme-inhibitor that has been labeled a human and animal carcinogen by the World Health Organization and other global and national regulatory bodies, as well as blamed for the drastic decline in crucial crop pollinators such as bees.
The latest G&E action, filed in partnership with the Moore Law Group of Louisville, Ky., alleges negligence, design defect, failure to warn, and negligent misrepresentation and/or fraud, among other claims, against Monsanto, a St. Louis-based agrochemical business owned since 2018 by conglomerate Bayer.
In addition to Monsanto/Bayer, Mr. Langford’s lawsuit names San Francisco-based agricultural products firm Wilbur-Ellis, a longtime seller and distributor of Roundup and other herbicides throughout California. Mr. Langford purchased Roundup at a hardware store near his home supplied by Wilbur-Ellis.
The complaint states, “Since Monsanto began selling Roundup, the company has misrepresented its safety… Monsanto knew that glyphosate could pose significant risks to human health, including a risk of causing cancer. This lawsuit seeks to hold Monsanto accountable for this misconduct.”
The complaint notes that starting around 1985, Mr. Langford regularly sprayed Roundup around his 5.5-acre property in Placer County, CA, and continued to use it to control weeds and insects as late as 2019. He was also exposed to Roundup as a building inspector supervising large construction projects in Northern California. In 2007 he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer with long-established links to glyphosate in which abnormal growth of white blood cells can produce tumors throughout the body. In time, he also developed other cancers.
Current research suggests that the latency period for NHL – the time between initial exposure to a carcinogen and diagnosis of the disease – can be 10 to 20 years, or more. Mr. Langford seeks damages for pain and suffering and physical impairment, as well as punitive and exemplary damages and other expenses.
G&E director Elizabeth Graham, who leads the firm’s efforts on behalf of Mr. Langford, said, “Over the years since Roundup was introduced, Monsanto appears to have spent as much time and energy on misinformation, denial, and concealment of the facts as it did on the development of this weed-killer. After decades of distortions about its star money-making product, the company is finally considering changes to the labels on Roundup. Unfortunately, that is far too little and too late for many people, including Michael Langford.”
G&E is partnering in this action with Jennifer Moore of The Moore Group, who represented a California plaintiff in an $80 million jury verdict (later reduced to $25 million) against Monsanto that was upheld on appeal last month. In addition to Ms. Graham, G&E director Adam Gomez is also handling the case.
Since Roundup’s development in the 1970s as a method for suppressing weeds that compete with cash crops, it has become popular worldwide in not only farmers’ fields but at nurseries and garden centers, as well as in home landscaping. In addition to glyphosate, Roundup’s ingredients include chemical adjuvants and surfactants, which help ensure even placement of the herbicide on target plants, but have also been shown to enhance the absorption of Roundup by human skin. Studies of glyphosate have concluded that it can inflict DNA and chromosomal damage on humans and other animals, including in utero, promote rare tumors, and destroy necessary digestive microbes.
According to the complaint, Monsanto’s global success at marketing and selling Roundup was accompanied by a focused campaign of deception, aimed at deflecting and undermining both scientific and anecdotal reports that the herbicide was a danger to humans and animals and would, directly contrary to the company’s claims, build up in and leach into soil and groundwater. The complaint asserts that Monsanto sponsored allegedly independent tests of Roundup that, not surprisingly, found the product benign; in at least two cases, executives of those labs were indicted and convicted of fraud and/or data falsification in their testing of agrochemicals.
The complaint also notes that Monsanto has ghostwritten numerous articles and testimonials on the safety of Roundup under the byline of supposedly independent scientists that were submitted to regulatory agencies.
In the 1990s the New York State Attorney General sued Monsanto over advertising that proclaimed the safety and non-toxicity of Roundup, a case resolved when the company agreed to stop using that marketing language—a pledge that to this date only applies to the state of New York. Monsanto filed suit against the state of California to stop it from warning consumers about the carcinogenic properties of glyphosate. A 2009 ruling by France’s highest court that the company had been untruthful in claiming that Roundup was “biodegradable” and “left the soil clean” led to the country’s banning glyphosate. In that action, France has been joined by the Netherlands, Austria, Brazil, Colombia, Bermuda, Sri Lanka and, soon, Germany.
With the demise last month of a court-supervised national class litigation to handle plaintiffs’ claims regarding Roundup, Bayer and Monsanto announced a five-point plan to attempt to contain legal action. It may include relabeling Roundup products to exclude references to safety, and an associated website with links to studies and other information on use of Roundup. The Company also appear to be assessing the future of glyphosate products in the U.S. residential market.
Bayer has set aside a reported $10 billion to cover the cancer claims of tens of thousands of people.
About Grant & Eisenhofer P.A.
Grant & Eisenhofer is one of the U.S.'s leading litigation firms, with a highly successful track record representing plaintiffs in complex litigation and arbitration matters. The firm has offices in Wilmington (Delaware), New York, Chicago, and San Francisco, and an international docket of high-profile cases. G&E's clients include institutional investors and other plaintiffs in U.S. and international securities matters, derivative and corporate governance lawsuits, shareholder activism matters, bankruptcy litigation, antitrust actions, consumer class actions, whistleblower cases involving the False Claims Act, mass tort and environmental suits, birth injury litigation and civil rights suits. The firm has recovered billions for clients in just the last few years, and has twice been cited by RiskMetrics for securing the highest average investor recovery in securities class actions. G&E has been named one of the country's top plaintiffs' law firms by The National Law Journal for more than a decade, and was named one of the U.S.'s "Most Feared Plaintiffs Firms" as well as one of Delaware's "Regional Powerhouses” for 2018 and 2019 by Law360. For more information, visit www.gelaw.com.
View source version on businesswire.com: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20210622005853/en/