Monsanto is in the news once again.
This time, the embattled agrochemical company has agreed to pay $45 million to settle a class-action lawsuit that accuses the company of committing fraud with respect to its weed-killing product Roundup.
Let’s take a look at the proposed settlement, the other lawsuits that have been filed against Monsanto, and whether you can still file a lawsuit.
Fraud claims against Monsanto
On August 19, 2020, a class-action lawsuit was filed against Monsanto in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware. The lawsuit alleges that Monsanto was aware that “Roundup has the potential to cause users to develop cancer” but nevertheless advertised the weed-killing product without warning about its cancer risks.
To be clear, the plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit aren’t alleging that they developed cancer as a result of using Roundup. Rather, the plaintiffs are alleging that they would not have purchased Roundup if it contained a warning about cancer risks.
On June 15, 2021, the parties reached a preliminary settlement. If approved by the court, the settlement would allow consumers to seek up to 20% of the average retail price of any Roundup products they purchased.
At most, Monsanto would end up paying $45 million under the proposed settlement.
In a statement, Monsanto said the company “believes the settlement is financially reasonable and in the best interest of the company, and it is taking this action for commercial reasons and not due to any safety concerns.”
Personal injury claims against Monsanto
The fraud lawsuits are not the only lawsuits Monsanto is facing. Tens of thousands of personal injury lawsuits have been filed against Monsanto alleging that the plaintiffs developed cancer as a result of using Roundup.
Most of these personal injury cases were consolidated in multi-district litigation (MDL) in the Northern District of California and recently settled for a total of roughly $10 billion. The settlement is one of the largest settlements in the history of the United States.
Of the cases that were not consolidated, several have resulted in jury verdicts in favor of the plaintiffs, including a recent California lawsuit in which an Oakland jury awarded a couple $2 billion in punitive damages.
A San Francisco jury found that Monsanto failed to warn Dewayne that glyphosate, a chemical in Roundup herbicide and related products, has been linked to cancer. The jury awarded Dewayne $289 million, but the judge later reduced the amount to $78 million.
Can you file a lawsuit against Monsanto?
If you purchased Roundup or developed cancer as a result of using the product, you may be able to join a class-action lawsuit or file your own personal injury lawsuit to recover damages.
To recover damages, you typically have to prove that Monsanto was negligent. More specifically, you need to establish that:
- Monsanto had a duty to act with reasonable care,
- Monsanto breached their duty, and
- The breach was the cause of your injuries.
For plaintiffs who developed cancer after using Roundup, the 3rd element (causation) is usually the hardest element to prove for 2 reasons:
- The scientific community doesn’t agree on whether Roundup causes cancer.
- Most exposures don’t produce harm until years or even decades after the initial exposure. This time gap allows the defendant to argue that some other intervening factors, such as exposure to some other toxic substance, may have actually caused the harm.