(July 9, 2019) After losing the first three Roundup trials by decisive, unanimous jury verdicts in California, Monsanto is set to face its fourth Roundup trial next month in the company’s hometown. Whether Roundup cancer plaintiffs or Monsanto will enjoy any edge in a Roundup trial staged in St. Louis is an open question.
Which side has the edge in St. Louis?
Some may feel the plaintiff’s side has the edge in St. Louis. Unlike the three California trials, Monsanto employees can be forced to appear on the witness stand in the Missouri venue. In addition, recent legal history at the gateway to the West has seen several juries levy large verdicts against corporate defendants.
On the other hand, Monsanto has donated lots of (tax deductible) monies to local charities, and it may be difficult for the plaintiff’s side to find a juror in the area who either hasn’t worked for the chemical giant, or who doesn’t know a family member, friend, or acquaintance who has.
Plaintiff Sharlean Gordon
The plaintiff in the fourth trial is Sharlean Gordon, a cancer-stricken woman in her 50s. Her case – Gordon v. Monsanto – begins Aug. 19 in St. Louis County Circuit Court. The venue is located just a few miles from the St. Louis-area campus that long functioned as Monsanto’s world headquarters, until Bayer bought Monsanto in June 2018. Ms. Gordon’s case was filed in July 2017, in a petition that includes more than 75 plaintiffs. Hers is the first case in the first group in St. Louis to go to trial.
According to her lawsuit petition, Ms. Gordon purchased Roundup and used it for at least 15 continuous years, through approximately 2017. She was diagnosed with a form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2006. She has suffered two stem cell transplants, and, at one point in her treatment, spent a year in a nursing home. She is now so debilitated that it is difficult for her to walk or even move at all.
Roundup-non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Link
Sharlean Gordon’s case — like that of some 12,000 others filed around the U.S. — alleges that using Monsanto’s glyphosate-based herbicides caused her to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Ms. Gordon’s lawyer called the evidence against Monsanto, along with the company’s conduct, “the most outrageous I’ve seen in my 30 years of doing this. (The) things that have gone on here, I want St. Louis juries to hear this stuff.”
Ms. Gordon’s trial will be followed by a September 9 jury trial also set for St. Louis County, in a case brought by plaintiffs Maurice Cohen and Burrell Lamb.
Monsanto 0-3 vs. Roundup Plaintiffs
The August and September trials follow a stunning $2 billion jury verdict decided against Monsanto on May 13, 2019. In that case, an Oakland, California jury awarded married couple Alva and Alberta Pilliod, who both suffer from cancer, $55 million in compensatory damages and $1 billion each in punitive damages.
Monsanto Covered Up Evidence
The Pilliod trial jury found that Monsanto has spent years covering up evidence that Roundup, along with its only listed active ingredient – glyphosate – cause cancer.
That latest ($2 Billion) verdict came just over a month after a San Francisco jury ordered Monsanto to pay $80 million in damages to Edwin Hardeman, who also developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma after using Roundup. In the first Roundup trial last summer in San Francisco, a jury ordered Monsanto to pay $289 million to groundskeeper Dewayne “Lee” Johnson. Mr. Johnson was diagnosed with terminal cancer after he used Monsanto’s top-selling poisons in his school groundskeeper’s job.
Plaintiffs’ lawyers in the California cases were unable to compel Monsanto scientists and executives to testify because they had to travel more than 100 miles or out of the state where they live or work. In St. Louis, that dynamic changes dramatically. Plaintiffs’ attorneys in the St. Louis trials plan to subpoena several Monsanto scientists to appear on the witness stand to answer questions directly in front of a jury.
Monsanto / Bayer Investor Confidence Shattered
The three huge trial losses have left Monsanto and its German owner Bayer AG under heavy criticism from angry investors and shareholders. Monsanto’s unsettled investors have pushed share prices to their lowest levels in nearly seven years. Monsanto’s poison Roundup problems have erased more than 40 percent of Bayer’s market value.
Some angry investors are calling for Bayer CEO Werner Baumann’s head. Mr. Baumann pushed for Bayer’s Monsanto acquisition, which closed in June 2018 just as the first Roundup trial was starting.
Bayer maintains that no valid evidence proves a cancer causation link with Monsanto’s herbicides. Bayer says it believes it will win on appeal. U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria, however, has ordered Bayer to begin mediation talks aimed at potentially settling the sprawling mass of lawsuits that includes roughly 13,400 plaintiffs in the United States alone.
All the plaintiffs are cancer victims or family members of same. All allege Monsanto engaged in a plethora of deceptive tactics to hide the risks of its poison herbicides. Charges include Monsanto’s manipulating the scientific record with ghostwritten studies, colluding with regulators, using outside people and organizations to promote the safety of Monsanto products while making sure they appeared to be acting independently of the company.
Roundup Lawsuits in Canada
Meanwhile, the Roundup litigation that began in the U.S has crossed into Canada. A Saskatchewan farmer leads a class action lawsuit against Bayer and Monsanto. His allegations mirror those brought in the U.S. lawsuits.
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