The result of one lawsuit may lead to major changes in how the product is manufactured.
Roundup is the most popular herbicide, or weedkiller. If you look in your garage or basement, you might even have a bottle or two stashed for when you need to get rid of some weeds poking up in the cracks of your sidewalk or in your flower beds. Yet according to some, the active ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, can cause cancer — and at least one California jury agrees.
In August 2018, a San Francisco jury awarded former school groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson $289 million after he developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer. Mr. Johnson alleges that his cancer developed after years of exposure to Roundup, which he used regularly over the course of 3 years while he was a pest control manager. He was just 42 was he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The jury deliberated for just 3 days before deciding that Roundup was a substantial contributing factor in causing Mr. Johnson’s illness. In addition, the jury decided that Monsanto, the manufacturer of Roundup, failed to provide a warning label about Roundup’s potential health hazards. The jury awarded Mr. Johnson $6 million in actual damages, $33 million in pain and suffering, and $250 million in punitive damages, which the judge later reduced to $39 million. Punitive damages are meant to punish the wrongdoer and deter others from committing harm.
As an experienced products liability attorney can explain, failure to warn is one theory that can be used when suing a company based on harm caused by their product. A products liability claim can be based on one of three theories: (1) that the product had a manufacturing defect; (2) that the product was defectively designed; (3) or that the product did not have proper instructions or failed to warn consumers about its dangers. Here, the jury found that Monsanto failed to warn users that Roundup could cause cancer if certain precautions are not taken (such as wearing protective gear).
While the Johnson verdict is just one case, there are currently thousands of cases pending against Monsanto (which has since been acquired by Bayer AG). Monsanto denies that there is any connection between glyphosate and cancer, yet there have been studies that link its use to certain kinds of cancer, including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In fact, the World Health Organization has classified glyphosate as a probable carcinogenic in humans. Despite this, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved Roundup and other products made with glyphosate for use in the United States.
According to a skilled products liability attorney, there are situations in which the only way that dangerous or defective products are removed from the marketplace is through consumer action. This can include protest, boycotts — and lawsuits. A legal action can result in negative publicity, increased exposure about the potential harm that a product can cause, and perhaps most importantly, a substantial financial hit to the manufacturer. In this way, consumers can take action against corporate giants whose products are harmful — and victims can seek justice.
At PLBSH, we are seasoned products liability attorneys with more than 40 years of experience helping clients with a range of cases. We work collaboratively with you to help you achieve the best possible outcome. To learn more or to schedule a consultation with a products liability attorney, contact us today at (800) 435-7542 or firstname.lastname@example.org.