San Francisco, California – Dec. 19, 2017 — The law firms of Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman and Kennedy & Madonna filed lawsuits against Monsanto Co. last week on behalf of 50 California residents who allege exposure to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide caused them to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Baum Hedlund attorneys Michael L. Baum, R. Brent Wisner and Frances M. Phares filed the Roundup cancer lawsuits on Dec. 13 in San Francisco County Superior Court.
The lead cases are:
- Aiton v. Monsanto Company; Wilbur-Ellis Company LLC; and Wilbur-Ellis Feed LLC (Case No: CGC-17-563100)
- Baker v. Monsanto Company; Wilbur-Ellis Company LLC; and Wilbur-Ellis Feed LLC (Case No: CGC-17-563101)
- Behar v. Monsanto Company; Wilbur-Ellis Company LLC; and Wilbur-Ellis Feed LLC (Case No: CGC-17-563102)
- Kohn v. Monsanto Company; Wilbur-Ellis Company LLC; and Wilbur-Ellis Feed LLC (Case No: CGC-17-563104)
- Norris v. Monsanto Company; Wilbur-Ellis Company LLC; and Wilbur-Ellis Feed LLC (Case No: CGC-17-563105)
The San Francisco Roundup lawsuits seek compensatory and punitive damages for personal injuries against St. Louis, Missouri-based Monsanto Co. and Wilbur Ellis Company, LLC of San Francisco, California, which sold and distributed Monsanto products within the State of California.
The lawsuits contain seven counts:
- Strict Liability – Design Defect (Against All Defendants)
- Strict Liability – Failure to Warn (Against All Defendants)
- Negligence (Against All Defendants)
- Fraud (Against Monsanto)
- Breach of Express Warranties (Against Monsanto)
- Breach of Implied Warranties (Against Monsanto)
- Exemplary Damages (Against All Defendants)
Allegations in San Francisco Roundup Lawsuits
Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, was initially patented in 1961 as a descaling and chelating agent used to clean out mineral and calcium deposits in pipes and broilers. In 1970, Monsanto discovered the herbicidal properties of glyphosate and began marketing it in 1974 under the brand name Roundup®.
On March 20, 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) issued an evaluation of glyphosate, which traced the health implications from exposure to glyphosate going back to 2001. In its comprehensive report, IARC concluded that glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen (Group 2A), and that the cancers most associated with glyphosate exposure are non-Hodgkin lymphoma and other hematopoietic cancers. The IARC report also found that glyphosate exposure caused DNA and chromosomal damage in human cells, as well as genotoxic, hormonal and enzymatic effects in mammals.
The IARC report is significant because, according to the allegations, it confirmed what has been believed for years: that glyphosate is toxic to humans. Nevertheless, Monsanto marketed Roundup and glyphosate as safe for humans and the environment even though the company knew or should have known that Roundup posed a grave risk of harm, according to the allegations.
At one point, Monsanto advertised that Roundup was “safer than table salt” and “practically non-toxic,” assertions that prompted the New York Attorney General (NYAG) to file a lawsuit against the company for false and misleading advertising. Following the NYAG lawsuit, Monsanto entered into an Assurance of Discontinuance in which the company agreed to, among other things, “cease and desist from publishing or broadcasting any advertisements that represent, directly or by implication” that glyphosate-based herbicides are safe, non-toxic, harmless or free from risk.
Among other things, the lawsuits allegations accuse Monsanto of engaging in the following to validate its false claim that Roundup is safe:
- Championing falsified data and attacking legitimate studies that revealed any health hazard associated with Roundup.
- Deliberately refusing to test Roundup products because the company knew that glyphosate and glyphosate-based formulations posed serious health risks to humans.
- Leading a prolonged campaign of misinformation to convince consumers and government agencies throughout the world that Roundup is not dangerous.
- Ghostwriting studies relied upon by consumers and regulators to assess the safety of glyphosate without disclosing its involvement.
- Ghostwriting editorials to advocate for the safety of glyphosate in newspapers and magazines without disclosing its involvement.
- Ghostwriting letters by supposedly independent scientists that were submitted to regulatory agencies charged with reviewing the safety of glyphosate.
- Violating federal regulations in holding secret ex parte meetings and conversations with certain Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) employees to collude in a strategy to re-register glyphosate and to quash investigations into the carcinogenicity of glyphosate by other federal agencies.
Monsanto Roundup Litigation Moves Forward Across the Country
The 50 newly filed San Francisco Roundup lawsuits add to the growing number of cases Monsanto faces in federal and state courts. As of Dec. 2017, Monsanto faces more than 285 Roundup lawsuits in federal court before U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in Northern California. The lead case in the federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) is 3:16-md-02741-VC.
In March 2018, in the federal Roundup MDL, lawyers from the Plaintiffs and Defense side will participate in what is known in the legal community as “Science Day” or “Science Week.” This is where the two sides present their experts to educate the court on the science behind both sides of the Roundup cancer connection.
U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria will oversee a legal proceeding known as a Daubert hearing, where he will assure that scientific expert “live” testimony meets the “scientific knowledge” threshold needed at trial. Plaintiffs must show they have scientific proof to back their claims that Roundup/glyphosate causes non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
- March 5, 2018: Daubert Hearing at 9:00 a.m. followed by “Science Week” with live testimony from expert witnesses is scheduled to begin
- March 19, 2018: MSJ (Motion for Summary Judgment) Hearing and continuation of Daubert Hearing
Thousands of other plaintiffs have made similar claims against Monsanto in state courts in California, Delaware, Missouri, Nebraska and elsewhere. The first trial in the Roundup litigation is a state court case, which is scheduled to begin on June 18, 2018 in Superior Court for the County of San Francisco. The plaintiff in that case, Dewayne Johnson, is represented by the Miller Firm. Another state court case in St. Louis, Missouri will begin in October 2018.
- June 18, 2018 – First ever Roundup cancer trial against Monsanto (California)
- October 2018 – Second Roundup cancer trial against Monsanto in (Missouri)
On Wednesday, December 20, 2017, an important hearing will take place in Alameda County Superior Court. The Judicial Council of California (JCCP) has directed the presiding Judge of the Superior Court of California, County of Alameda, Judge Ioana Petrou, to sit as coordination motion judge to determine whether coordination is appropriate for the hundreds of Roundup non-Hodgkin lymphoma cases filed in the state. It is expected that the judge will determine that it is appropriate and necessary to consolidate all the Roundup cases filed in California in one court under one judge. This will prevent redundancy and allow for efficient organization and litigation of the cases.
Plaintiffs’ attorneys estimate the total number of plaintiffs being represented to be around 3,500 with approximately 2,200 cases filed in state and federal courts. The law firm of Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman currently represents nearly 600 clients in the Roundup litigation.
Current approximate breakdown of Roundup cases filed:
Federal MDL: 285
Alameda County: 40
San Francisco County: 50
Since the beginning of the litigation, Baum Hedlund and other law firms have led the fight to declassify and publish court documents that include internal Monsanto communications, reports, studies and other memoranda. These discovery documents, now internationally known as ‘The Monsanto Papers’, allow people to see what is happening “behind the curtain” of secrecy that normally shrouds ongoing litigation.
“These documents show that Monsanto has deliberately been stopping studies that look bad for them, ghostwriting literature and engaging in a whole host of corporate malfeasance,” says attorney R. Brent Wisner.
“We look forward to our clients getting their day in court. Plaintiffs will finally have a jury examine the plethora of evidence that will support the facts that show Monsanto has been aware for decades that Roundup causes cancer and should have warned about it from the beginning.”
About the Roundup Attorneys Taking on Monsanto
Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. are working together with other consumer attorneys from across the country in representing victims who allege exposure to Roundup caused them to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Baum Hedlund has successfully handled thousands of cases, securing over $1.5 billion in verdicts and settlements on behalf of their clients in all its areas of practice.* With decades of experience litigating personal injury and wrongful death cases, the firm has developed a reputation for holding Fortune 500 companies accountable, influencing public policy, raising public awareness and improving product safety.
*Past results are not a guarantee of future outcomes.