CMBG3 Law previously reported on the start of the first trial in the country in which allegations that glysophate in Monsanto’s Roundup and Ranger Pro weed killers cause cancer are being presented to the jury. Friday concluded the second week of trial and CMBG3’s Matt Lite brings you the latest from this groundbreaking trial.  

The allegations in the case stem from 46-year old former groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 2014 after spending two seasons spraying Monsanto’s Ranger Pro and Roundup products in school yards in Benicio, California. His case, originally filed in California Superior Court in 2016, alleges that while he used personal protective equipment, there were instances in which he would still become drenched in the product. U.S. and European regulators have all previously concluded that glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup, is safe. In 2015, the World Health Organization’s Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified the ingredient as a probable human carcinogen, prompting a flood of lawsuits, including plaintiff DeWayne Johnson’s.

The second week got off to a fiery start, as Monsanto’s attorney aggressively attacked and attempted to discredit plaintiff’s experts. Multiple key witnesses took the stand throughout the week including Christopher Portier, former director of the Office of Risk Assessment Research at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, who spent hours testifying that scientific evidence shows that glyphosate-based formulations like Roundup can cause cancer in humans. Additionally, he strongly criticized other regulators on their methodology, including the methodology used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the European Food Safety Authority, suggesting “this was just so amazingly wrong in the way they were doing it. They did not follow their own guidelines”.

Alfred Neugut, Colombia professor of medical oncology and cancer epidemiology also testified that Monsanto’s Roundup is carcinogenic and rejected the “idiotic” accusations proposed during questioning that the WHO thinks that “everything causes cancer.” Monsanto repeatedly accused Neugut of lying under oath, as six of Neugut’s answers at trial were differed from those given in his prior deposition testimony. Monsanto also used the same strategy to attack credibility against both plaintiff’s experts (Portier & Neugut), revealing that they had each signed consulting contracts with the Miller Firm – the law firm representing Johnson – just days after IARC announced their decision, implying that they were willing to testify for plaintiffs in glysophate cases without fully vetting the IARC conclusions and balancing it with the large number of conclusions to the contrary.  

On Friday, Chicago-based oncologist and lymphoma specialist, Chadi Nabhan, testified that Johnson’s high exposure to Roundup was a “substantial’ contributing factor” in the development of his disease. Nabhan also testified that “there is no agreed-upon latency period with these types of exposures and these types of cancers” in trying to address one of the most important keys to the case. However, on cross examination, Monsanto quickly cited to Johnson’s medical records that Nabhan did not mention during plaintiff’s direct examination.  In those records, there are notes concerning Johnson’s rashes (a known early symptom of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma) in September and December of 2013 and an early 2014 diagnoses of T-cell lymphoma.  On re-direct, Nabhan explained that he did review those specific records, but chose to ignore them, as he felt that they were not relevant. 

The highly contested matter continued this week with DeWayne Johnson scheduled to testify.

Regardless of the outcome of this trial, the case promises to be a bellwether case, as there are hundreds of other cases making the same allegations in various state and federal courts. The evidence that is brought out at trial and the jury verdict will factor heavily into how quickly the glysophate litigation takes off nationally.  

CMBG3 Law LLC has represented clients in products liability matters, especially with respect to allegedly toxic chemicals. We provide the most current legal advice to our clients by staying on top of developments in science, medicine, and regulations regarding a wide variety of substances and products used by consumers every day. If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Matt Lite (email him or 617-279-8207) or John Gardella (email him or 617-279-8225).