Home Depot and Lowe’s failed to warn their customers about the cancer risks associated with Monsanto’s weed-killer Roundup, a California man alleges in proposed class actions against the national retailers.
Plaintiff James Weeks filed the lawsuits this week in a California federal court. He alleges that Home Depot and Lowe’s know about the dangers of Roundup, but they continue to sell the product.
Monsanto and its parent company Bayer face more than 18,000 consumer lawsuits in the U.S. The complaints blame Roundup exposure for causing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other forms of cancer. The first three lawsuits against Monsanto have been tried in California courts. All three resulted in massive jury awards for the plaintiffs. These early “bellwether” cases are considered good predictors of how future legislation against Monsanto and Bayer will turn out.
According to Law360, Mr. Weeks’ lawsuits explain that as retailers, Home Depot and Lowe’s received detailed safety information from Monsanto. This information outlined the hazards associated with Roundup use. Yet, despite these red flags, the retailers continued to sell the product to consumers.
The only heads-up consumers had about Roundup was a label warning that the product could cause “moderate eye irritation,” Mr. Weeks’ lawsuit alleges.
“Reasonable consumers, like the plaintiff, who have purchased Roundup would not have done so had they known of its carcinogenic risks, or had the defendant provided a warning on how to minimize the risks,” the Weeks lawsuit alleges, according to Law360.
General Mills and Costco
Days after the first Roundup trial resulted in a $289 million award for terminally ill California groundskeeper DeWayne “Lee” Johnson, a Florida woman filed suit against General Mills for allegedly failing to reveal the presence of glyphosate in its Cheerios cereal products.
Environmental watchdog Center on Environmental Health conducted another recent study. Their study found levels of glyphosate in the bodies of 11 out of 12 families tested. Glyphosate levels were higher in the children of 10 of the families. Breakfast cereals and other food products containing glyphosate-treated grain and use of Roundup in parks and playgrounds are likely reasons why children had higher concentrations of the chemical in their bodies.
As science continues to reveal more links between glyphosate and cancer, it’s likely that other food manufacturers, growers, and other retailers that continue to use and sell Roundup could be named as defendants in future lawsuits.
Earlier this summer, Costco became the first major retailer to stop selling Roundup. The store was one of several that Moms Across America and other consumer groups petitioned to stop selling the weed-killer. So far, it is the only one that has chosen to remove the product from its lineup.
In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified glyphosate as a Class 2A herbicide. In terms of toxicity, that means the chemical is “probably carcinogenic to humans.” That finding set in motion much of the litigation Monsanto and Bayer face today.
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), a unit of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, released the long-anticipated Draft Toxicological Profile for Glyphosate in April 2019. The ATSDR’s findings not only supported those of the IARC, but strengthened them. The ATSDR study was also one that Monsanto officials worked with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to kill.
The ATSDR also found evidence that glyphosate exposure can also have adverse effects on reproduction, child development, and organ toxicity.
If all consumers stopped using Roundup, it would eliminate just 10 percent of the world’s glyphosate usage. Ninety percent of Roundup use is in farming operations to produce genetically modified crops–engineered by Monsanto to resist Roundup–and much of the chemical residue continues to end up in our food.
Beasley Allen is investigating cases involving non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma related to the commercial application of Roundup/glyphosate. For more information, contact Rhon Jones in our Toxic Torts Section.