Lawyers for the pharmaceutical giant added about another 15,000 suits to a previous settlement. Yet over half of all Roundup cases remain unresolved.
At an earlier hearing, U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria threatened to lift the Roundup lawsuit stay unless Bayer, which recently purchased Roundup manufacturer Monsanto, accelerated the settlement process. Bayer wisely responded by adding more cases to the settlement fund, a move one attorney described as “a huge step forward for Bayer and Monsanto finding a way through the nightmare that has been Roundup for them.”
In the midst of all this, the German pharmaceutical company picked up CEO Werner Baumann’s contract, extending him through 2024.
The Link Between Gylphostate and Injury
Since it hit the market in 1974, Americans have used about 1.8 million tons of gylhostate. That figure makes Roundup the most widely-used residential and commercial herbicide. No other product even comes close. As if that wasn’t enough, Roundup’s use increased exponentially when Monsanto introduced genetically-altered seeds which were designed to maximize glyphosate’s effects.
There is considerable evidence that glyphosate causes cancer. There is also some evidence that the link is non-existent. Nevertheless, there is enough proof to establish a link by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). That’s the standard of proof in civil court. Moreover, there is certainly enough evidence to warrant a warning label. But Monsanto refused to do so.
Glyphosate is potentially toxic in other ways as well. Scientists have classified this substance as a reproductive toxin which affects male and female reproductive systems. Furthermore, glyphosate has been linked with serious liver disease. There is also evidence that Roundup does not just kill weeds. The substance might also kill beneficial or harmless insects, like Monarch Butterflies and honeybees.
Defective/Dangerous Product Liability
Companies big and small are strictly liable for the injuries their defective products cause. That includes:
- Manufacturing Defect: For most product makers, profits are all that matters. Therefore, they often take shortcuts during the manufacturing process to make their wares more profitable, even if those moves make their products less safe.
- Design Defect: Some products are dangerous when they are on the drawing board. But once the wheels start turning in a particular direction, very few executives have the courage to put people before profits and halt the process.
Intent and maliciousness are irrelevant, at least in terms of liability. A Lexington personal injury attorney can use intent, or at least recklessness, to obtain additional damages, as outlined below.
Failure to warn is a separate claim for damages. If there are indications that a product might be dangerous, the manufacturer has a duty to at least warn consumers about the elevated risk, so they can make informed choices.
Other products are inherently dangerous products. Examples include gasoline and explosives. These products cannot be safely made or sold no matter how hard anyone tries. So, if someone is injured, the manufacturer is strictly liable for damages, even if the product itself was not defective.
Roundup could be any one of the above three things. Cancer and other serious illnesses are a result of the design process. Arguably, Monsanto/Bayer should not have placed such a hazardous substance in Roundup, especially when effective alternatives are available. And, Monsanto clearly did not warn customers about the possible risk. Finally, a herbicide is arguably an inherently dangerous product, because poison is poison.
Speaking of effective alternatives, some jurisdictions require victim/plaintiffs to prove there was a reasonable alternative in design defect claims. Other possible defenses include product misuse and lack of evidence.
Evidence is usually crucial in these claims. The product maker has a stable of experts who will testify that the chemical or other substance at issue is safe. Victim/plaintiffs might have science on their side, but they still must convince jurors that the illness link is real.
Damages in a defective product claim usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Additional punitive damages are often available as well. In fact, in many cases, punitive damage awards dwarf compensatory damage awards. Jurors may award punitive damages if there is clear and convincing evidence that the defendant intentionally disregarded a known risk.
Punitive damages are quite controversial. But money is the only language that most companies speak. Unless they are forced to pay an eye-popping sum of money, they will not change the way they do business.
Far too often, companies knowingly sell dangerous products which hurt people. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Lexington, contact the Goode Law Office, PLLC. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these cases.