forbes.com Updated: Aug 18, 2022, 1:26pm
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Roundup weed killer is used for both commercial and personal use. You’ve probably used a Roundup product at least once to kill pesky weeds in your yard or garden.
While it’s effective, some studies have shown chemicals within the product may cause cancer. If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer because of or related to Roundup use, you may be able to file a lawsuit against Bayer, Roundup’s current owner, for compensation. What follows is an update on where cases stand today and what you can do to protect yourself.
Roundup, the most popular and profitable weed killer ever sold, uses glyphosate as its most active ingredient. Glyphosate is toxic to most broadleaf plants and grasses. It kills most plants it comes into contact with, instead of targeting certain weeds or plants.
Monsanto, a now defunct company, developed the product. Because glyphosate kills anything it touches, Monsanto developed plant seeds that were genetically modified to resist the damage of Roundup. This is when residential Roundup sales skyrocketed.
However, as the years went on, science questioned the safety of glyphosate. Studies have shown that the chemical might cause illness to humans and cause damage to the environment. The International Agency for Research on Cancer categorizes glyphosate as possibly carcinogenic to humans—essentially, the IARC is saying this toxin may cause cancer.
In 2018, Roundup was purchased by Bayer. By then, consumers had filed thousands of lawsuits linking Roundup to cancer. The most common cancer associated with Roundup is non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Bayer committed to begin in 2023 replacing “its glyphosate-based products in the U.S. residential Lawn & Garden market with new formulations that rely on alternative active ingredients.”
Roundup Cancer Lawsuits
Monsanto has settled over 100,000 Roundup lawsuits, paying out about $11 billion as of May 2022. There are still 30,000 lawsuits pending. This includes 4,000 cases in multidistrict litigation (MDL) in California. MDL cases are not class-action suits. Instead they group cases together so that instead of answering the same question repeatedly in each separate lawsuit, the courts can resolve some specific issues for all of them at once.
In June 2022, the Ninth Circuit filed a decision in a Roundup case. In the court’s opinion, the Ninth Circuit urged the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reconsider its conclusion that Roundup does not cause substantial harm to people or the environment. Also in that month, the Supreme Court dismissed an appeal by Bayer in another Roundup case.
In July 2022, the 11th Circuit ruled that Bayer had failed to adequately warn about the risk of cancer from Roundup.
Roundup Lawsuit Claims
Most lawsuits against Monsanto and, subsequently, Bayer, have been settled. But in 2018, one of the first cases went to trial where a jury found in favor of a California school groundskeeper who used Roundup frequently for many years. The plaintiff’s lawyers showed he was exposed to glyphosate repeatedly, and that was the cause of his cancer.
While the jury did not find that the use of Roundup caused the individual’s cancer, it found that Monsanto and Bayer didn’t do enough to warn the plaintiff that Roundup could cause cancer. Because of that failure, the jury awarded the plaintiff nearly $300 million in damages.
Following that case, two more high-profile cases resulted in substantial verdicts for people deemed to be injured by Roundup. In one case, a person used Roundup for more than three decades. The jury awarded the individual $2 billion in damages, but a court later reduced that to $86.7 million, holding the original amount was excessive..
In the second case, an individual sued Bayer after developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma from using Roundup in his yard for more than two decades. The jury awarded the person $75 million in punitive damages alone. This was later reduced to $20 million.
Bayer has won its share of cases, too. A California jury found the company not responsible for a child’s diagnosis of Burkitt’s lymphoma. The jury said the use of Roundup was not a substantial cause of the child’s cancer diagnosis.
It’s important to review these cases to understand what juries look for when rendering a verdict. Ultimately, if you decide to pursue a lawsuit you’ll need to show that Roundup use played a role in your cancer diagnosis.
Does Roundup Really Cause Cancer?
While the EPA suggests that there’s no direct link, the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s stance is more in line with scientific evidence. A study from the University of Washington found that exposure to glyphosate increased an individual’s risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma by 41%. That is significant.
The CDC recently released findings that up to 80% of Americans may have traces of Roundup in their urine, showing they have been exposed to it. Considering that 200 million pounds of Roundup are sprayed annually on U.S. crops, it is not surprising most of the population has been exposed to it.
If you have used Roundup even once, you could be at a higher risk of cancer. See your doctor regularly to watch out for symptoms.
Who Can Sue Bayer?
Simply using Roundup or another of the 19 Monsanto-Bayer products with glyphosate isn’t enough to file a claim. You’ll need to have suffered an injury. In most Roundup cases, that’s a diagnosis for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The cancer diagnosis will need to be linked to exposure to Roundup.
The specifics of your health problems will play a central role in your lawsuit. You’ll need to be ready to discuss details of your health, turn over medical records, and talk about personal aspects of your life.
Time to File a Roundup Cancer Lawsuit
If you have used Roundup and you have developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, you may be able to file a lawsuit against Bayer. You don’t have forever to do that, though.
Every state has a statute of limitations, usually between two and four years, which limits the time you have to sue for product liability. The clock starts at the time you received the diagnosis or when you realized there may be a link between Roundup and your diagnosis or when it was widely known there was a link.
Can I Sue My Employer If I Used Roundup at Work?
Possibly. It’s important to explore all areas of potential liability, besides Bayer and Roundup. If your job duties included using Roundup or another product containing glyphosate, you may be able file a claim against your employer.
When your employer requires you to use Roundup, they must provide you with safety equipment. This could include face masks, gloves and other protective gear. If your employer hasn’t provided you with these items, or with any safety training, you could hold them liable for your cancer diagnosis.
This is a completely separate claim from the one you would make against Bayer, and it’s perfectly acceptable to file both. Be aware, however, that you cannot double dip. So if you get compensation from your employer for lost income, you won’t be able to get money from Bayer for the same reason. Keep in mind that if you file a workers’ compensation claim, you cannot separately sue your employer for damages.your lawsuit against Bayer may be restricted to your state court.
If you notice symptoms of cancer or you’ve received a cancer diagnosis, your sole goal should be to ensure that you get the medical attention you need. If you think your cancer may be from your prior or current use of Roundup, it’s vital that you explore your legal options.
Your medical treatment will be expensive and will be time-consuming. Work to get the compensation you deserve by discussing your legal options with a trusted legal advisor right away.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What symptoms should I watch for if I’ve used Roundup?
There are lots of symptoms associated with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Keep a close watch for any of the following: shortness of breath; wheezing and coughing; swelling of the lymph nodes; swelling, fluid accumulation or pain in the abdomen; sudden weight loss; fatigue; weakness; night sweats; chills or fever.
How much is my Roundup lawsuit worth?
It depends on many factors, including your medical diagnosis and prognosis, your ability to work, the costs of the treatment you need, the effect of your treatment on your quality of life, your pain and suffering and your mental anguish.
The ultimate value of your case rests on the extent of your injuries and how it affects your life. The more you can document, the better. The average payout is between $5,000 and $250,000.
What do I need to prove I’ve used Roundup?
To prove your case, you’ll need to establish that you have used Roundup. Without this, you may not be eligible to file a claim.
If you used Roundup at your house, use your credit card statements, store receipts or even an empty or partially used container. If you used Roundup at work, get copies of your employment records, work orders or invoices showing Roundup purchases.
What Do I Need to Prove I’ve Developed Cancer?
Once you’ve proved that you have used Roundup, you then need to show that you’ve received a cancer diagnosis. This is where things get more complex. Not only do you need to show the cancer diagnosis, you’ll need to show a link between Roundup and cancer.
You don’t have to prove conclusively that Roundup caused your cancer. Instead, proving that you used Roundup and you have cancer could be enough to get a settlement from Bayer.
Be prepared for Bayer to hit back. The company may claim you didn’t take the necessary safety precautions when using Roundup.