Closing arguments begin in Monsanto Roundup weed killer trial in St. Louis County

Three people diagnosed with lymphoma are suing the company claiming their Roundup weed killer caused their cancer. Monsanto has dealt with numerous lawsuits ove
Published: Aug. 3, 2022 at 9:18 AM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV/CNN) - Closing arguments are scheduled to begin Thursday in the first local trial involving Creve Coeur-based Monsanto.

Three people diagnosed with lymphoma are suing the company claiming their Roundup weed killer caused their cancer. Monsanto has dealt with numerous lawsuits over the past few years due to the weed killer and has already paid billions in damages.

Bayer, the German-based company that acquired agrochemical giant Monsanto in 2018, settled most of the current and possible future lawsuits for more than $10 billion. It comes after years of litigation from cancer patients who claimed Roundup caused non-Hodgkin lymphoma and that Monsanto failed to adequately warn consumers of the risk.

The settlement of Roundup cases in the US “will bring closure to approximately 75% of the current Roundup litigation involving approximately 125,000 filed and unfiled claims overall,” Bayer said in a news release.

“The company will make a payment of $8.8 billion to $9.6 billion to resolve the current Roundup litigation, including an allowance expected to cover unresolved claims and $1.25 billion to support a separate class agreement to address potential future litigation.”

Potential future cases will be governed by a class agreement that’s subject to court approval, the company said.

Bayer said the settlement agreements “contain no admission of liability or wrongdoing.”

Of the thousands of Roundup lawsuits filed in federal or state courts, only seven have gone to trial with four siding with Monsanto.

“While we have great sympathy for the plaintiffs in this case, the extensive body of scientific research on glyphosate-based herbicides over four decades, as well as the conclusions of leading health regulators worldwide, support the conclusion that Roundup™ is not responsible for their illnesses.

“With the recent trial wins in Clark, Stephens, Shelton, and Johnson and a winning record in this litigation, Bayer is confident in its legal strategy, which the company has laid out in its five-point plan.”

In three of those trials, jurors sided with the plaintiffs, saying Roundup was a substantial contributing factor in causing the plaintiffs’ cancer.

And in each case, jurors awarded the plaintiffs’ tens of millions (or billions) of dollars -- though judges later reduced those award amounts, saying they were too excessive.

Bayer has appealed the verdicts in each of those three trials. On Wednesday, the company said those cases “will continue through the appeals process and are not covered by the settlement.”

“It is important for the company to continue these cases as the appeals will provide legal guidance going forward,” Bayer said.

As for Roundup, Bayer said it will continue selling the weed killer because it stands by previous assertions that it’s safe when used as directed.

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma patients started suing Monsanto by the hundreds after a 2015 World Health Organization report suggested glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup, might cause cancer.

The report, by WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, said glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

But Monsanto has long maintained that Roundup does not cause cancer and said the IARC report is greatly outnumbered by studies saying glyphosate is safe.

“Leading health regulators around the world have repeatedly concluded that Bayer’s glyphosate-based herbicides can be used safely as directed and that glyphosate is not carcinogenic ... including more than 100 studies (the) EPA considered relevant to its cancer risk analysis, and more than 800 safety studies overall submitted to regulators,” Bayer has said.