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Judge says Monsanto cancer case can move forward

roundup lawsuitEarlier this week, a federal judge ruled that lawsuits against agricultural giant Monsanto could proceed and that key plaintiffs’ witnesses may testify. The lawsuits allege that Monsanto’s weedkiller Roundup caused users to develop cancer.

This move represents a win for victims, but they will still face an uphill battle at trial, as the judge called their claims “shaky” but admissible.

Thousands of individual plaintiffs claim Monsanto’s widely used weedkiller RoundUp caused them to develop cancer and that Monsanto provided no consumer warning. Specifically, the lawsuits link the ingredient glyphosate to an increased risk of non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and claim that the company knew about the risk and failed to warn the public, going so far as to suppress research that suggested the product was dangerous. The ingredient glyphosate is considered a probable human carcinogen according to the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer.  Monsanto denies any link between glyphosate and cancer.

Dozens of the suits were consolidated to be heard in the court of U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria, who made the ruling on Tuesday, denying Monsanto’s motion for summary judgment. The question at hand during this phase of the legal process was whether a “reasonable jury” could conclude that glyphosate can cause NHL.

The ruling also means that more lawsuits may follow. The first of these cases to go to trial involves plaintiff DeWayne “Lee” Johnson of California, a father of three and former school groundskeeper. In his job, Johnson was regularly exposed to Roundup and was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 2014. Johnson’s lawyers claim that Monsanto executives not only knew that glyphosate could cause cancer, but they further committed scientific fraud by ghostwriting studies favorable to their company.

Lawsuits against Monsanto not only aim to recover compensation for the significant losses these individuals and families have suffered, but also to send a message that big companies must pay when they put profits ahead of human lives. Product liability lawsuits hold negligent companies accountable for their actions and, hopefully, contribute to a change in policy toward greater corporate responsibility.

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