Monsanto To Pay $80 Million in Roundup Cancer Case
Monsanto is one of the largest companies in the world, and no stranger to public scrutiny. The mega-corporation offers various industrial and agricultural products used in commercial farming and manufacturing. The company’s flagship product is Roundup, a highly effective weed killer that uses a glyphosate base. Monsanto recently incurred an $80 million verdict from the second jury in eight months for the case of Hardeman v. Monsanto after the revelation of more evidence indicating the company knew Roundup had cancer-causing properties.
Hardeman v. Monsanto
In the case of Hardeman v. Monsanto, Edwin Hardeman, a groundskeeper, developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma due to repeated exposure to Roundup during the course of his job duties. Investigation into Monsanto’s business practices and similar cases of people exposed to Roundup developing cancer indicated the company was not truthful in its representation of this product. Glyphosate is one of the most widely used herbicides in the world, but scientific investigation indicates the substance is a carcinogen that can potentially affect consumers of food products made from crops treated with glyphosate.
For years, Monsanto vehemently denied that Roundup and the company’s other glyphosate products caused cancer. The company went so far as to attempt to influence Environmental Protection Agency officials into looking the other way when it came to research reporting the potential dangers of their flagship product. The Department of Agriculture reported more than 240 million pounds of glyphosate used on crops in 2014, and numerous scientific studies of the substance since that time have reported a link between glyphosate exposure and different types of cancer.
Known Dangers of Roundup
Roundup may be an extremely effective herbicide that can help commercial agriculture companies meet the extremely high demand for crops in the U.S., but it is an inherently dangerous substance that can potentially harm anyone who comes into contact with spraying equipment or crops sprayed with glyphosate. Roundup can contaminate the air, water sources, and food supplies. Some of the most commonly affected crops include soybeans and corn, but some agriculture companies use glyphosate as a desiccant to harvest oats more efficiently.
Elements of a Product Liability Claim
The root of the lawsuits against Monsanto is product liability. Product manufacturers have a legal duty to represent their products accurately, ensure the safety and efficacy of their products, and assume liability when an unreasonably dangerous or defective product harms an end user through normal use.
In a product liability claim, the plaintiff does not need to prove the defendant was negligent in any way, only that the product in question is defective or unreasonably dangerous in some way. Defective products generally fall into one of three categories.
- Defective designs affect every unit produced using that design. A company will likely issue a total recall of affected products as soon as the company learns of the design flaw.
- Defective production refers to errors in the manufacturing, fabrication, or assembly processes. These errors may only affect certain units or production lots.
- Defective marketing indicates the manufacturer failed to include adequate safety warnings or instructions for use, or misrepresented the product in marketing materials.
A defendant in a product liability lawsuit may need to prove it was not negligent in the development, production, and marketing of a product to escape liability for a product liability claim. Monsanto is a very large and powerful company with tremendous influence. The recent $80 million verdict in the Hardeman v. Monsanto case indicates that even an average citizen can secure compensation for damages caused by dangerous or inaccurately marketed products.
Product liability claims are the best method to hold negligent or exploitative companies accountable for the damages their products cause. Monsanto has seen significant share price drops and more negative publicity over the Hardeman v. Monsanto case and other lawsuits against the company for Roundup exposure.