The "Roundup" on Roundup

In an effort to save face and money, Monsanto, a biochemical subsidiary of the pharmaceutical company Bayer, is seeking to make a global settlement of $8 million to repay the public for their blatant manipulation of scientific research—which hid the fact that their product is cancerous.

Roundup's Lethal Consequences
Roy D. Oppenheim

Roy D. Oppenheim

August 16, 2019 12:00 AM

Monsanto, a biochemical subsidiary of the pharmaceutical company Bayer, sells the world’s most commonly used herbicide: Roundup. Although it should be noted that Monsanto is the leading glyphosate market participant because of its early adoption of glyphosate-tolerant crops and glyphosate-based herbicides, Monsanto, along with DowDuPont and other major companies, accounts for more than 50 percent of the global glyphosate market share. An investigation into glyphosate, a toxic active ingredient in Roundup, began in March of 2015, triggering a series of lawsuits and garnering international media attention. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is part of the World Health Organization, glyphosate was deemed a probable cause of cancer. Monsanto fired back by stating, “[the] IARC’s classification is inconsistent with the overwhelming consensus of regulatory authorities and other experts.” Yet, the study caused thousands of victims to seek justice for the potential damage glyphosate inflicted on their lives.

Roundup’s Lethal Consequences

In fact, studies show that prostate cancer is more prevalent in communities with high use of Roundup, which has led Woodland, an agricultural town in northern California and one of Monsanto’s largest headquarters in North America, to indefinitely suspend the spraying of glyphosate, in order to prevent widespread cancers within its community. Research also links breast cancer to Roundup, because increased exposure to glyphosate can lead to mammary tumors. In fact, a 2013 study found even low levels of glyphosate could increase the rate of breast cancer cell growth in petri dishes. Studies also indicate a relationship between Roundup and brain cancer, because parental exposure to glyphosate two years prior to a child’s birth can significantly increase the risk of the child developing brain cancer. Moreover, people with the highest exposure to glyphosate have a 41 percent higher risk of developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a type of blood cancer. In short, both the studies and the stories behind glyphosate’s destructive path lead to the question of Monsanto’s accountability.

However, the blatant manipulation of scientific research, deliberate efforts to mislead the public, and complete disregard for public safety makes these moves on behalf of Monsanto seem both insincere and illegitimate.

Until recently, most of the victims were unaware of the environmental hazards associated with the use of Roundup. Nowadays, however, over 13,000 plaintiffs, all of whom are Roundup-induced cancer victims or related to these victims, have filed suit against Monsanto. The Plaintiffs allege Monsanto engaged in a variety of duplicitous strategies to conceal the dangers of its herbicide, including conspiring with regulatory agencies, falsifying scientific research with ghostwritten studies, and employing outside entities to advertise the safety of Roundup while ensuring these organizations and individuals falsely seemed to be acting independently of Monsanto. Out of these thousands of cases, so far three cases, one of which took place in federal court and the other two in California state court, resulted in damages awarded totaling in the aggregate upwards of $190 million.

On March 19, 2019, the first federal trial case of Edwin Hardeman V. Monsanto, resulted in a unanimous jury decision which granted Hardeman a verdict victory of $80 million—which was eventually lowered to $25 million—with the jury members deciding that Hardeman’s exposure to Roundup was a “substantial factor” in causing his non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

In a California state court case involving Dewayne Johnson, who successfully filed suit against Monsanto and received a verdict sum of $289 million—which was eventually downsized to $78 million—the former groundskeeper offered pithy and heartbreaking insight into the realities of these settlements in an interview with TIME magazine in which he said, “I won a historic lawsuit, but may not live to get the money.” Moreover, in the other California state court case of an elderly couple, Alva and Alberta Pilliod were awarded $2.05 billion for punitive and compensatory damages—which was eventually downsized to $87 million—because of Monsanto’s defective product. Currently, a suit involving the first case of a child with Roundup-induced cancer further threatens the company’s bottom line and reveals the traumatizing extent of the herbicide’s damage.

Financial Freefall

As the litigation proceeds, investors in Bayer, which owns Monsanto, have grown more restless and many are pushing Bayer to seriously consider a global settlement. Such a settlement would be incredibly costly, with several experts estimating the number could range from $2 billion to $3 billion at best, and up to $10 billion at worst.

With the stocks of Bayer reaching a 7-year low after the company lost the $2 billion verdict to a couple who had contracted Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, the biochemical giant has begun seeking alternatives for glyphosate in an effort to rebuild its image with consumers. Bayer has also reportedly offered a total $8 billion settlement to “resolve” thousands of cancer claims, which combined with the postponement of upcoming cases, are efforts to portray the company in a positive light. However, the blatant manipulation of scientific research, deliberate efforts to mislead the public, and complete disregard for public safety makes these moves on behalf of Monsanto seem both insincere and illegitimate. In light of the emotional burden these illnesses can have on families, the $8 billion gesture will likely be rejected as “too little, too late.”

From the Trenches,

Roy Oppenheim

Related Articles

The Hidden and Explosive Danger of Electronic Cigarettes

by Steven Weston

While the FDA's authority has been extended to cover E-Cigarettes, no regulations have been put in place to govern the development and sale of e-cigarette batteries. This has made exploding E-Cigs a serious health threat on par with respiratory complications.

E-Cigarette Explosions

A Texas-Sized Reputation

by Justin Smulison

Dan Sciano’s proven record of success and leadership has made him a highly sought-after plaintiff’s litigator in the Lone Star State.

Dan Sciano: Expert Civil Litigator

Maintaining a Legacy

by Best Lawyers

Ben Zimmerman and the SUGARMAN team carry on the tradition of excellence at the storied plaintiffs' law firm.

SUGARMAN Lawyers on Their Trial Strategy

Trending Articles

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers® in the United States

by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers listed in the 28th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America® and in the 2nd Edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America for 2022.

2022 Best Lawyers Listings for United States

Announcing the 2023 The Best Lawyers in America Honorees

by Best Lawyers

Only the top 5.3% of all practicing lawyers in the U.S. were selected by their peers for inclusion in the 29th edition of The Best Lawyers in America®.

Gold strings and dots connecting to form US map

2021 Best Lawyers: The Global Issue

by Best Lawyers

The 2021 Global Issue features top legal talent from the most recent editions of Best Lawyers and Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch worldwide.

2021 Best Lawyers: The Global Issue

The U.S. Best Lawyers Voting Season Is Open

by Best Lawyers

The voting season for the 31st edition of The Best Lawyers in America® and the 5th edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch® in America is officially underway, and we are offering some helpful advice to this year’s voters.

Golden figures of people standing on blue surface connected by white lines

How To Find A Pro Bono Lawyer

by Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers dives into the vital role pro bono lawyers play in ensuring access to justice for all and the transformative impact they have on communities.

Hands joined around a table with phone, paper, pen and glasses

The Best Lawyers in Australia™ 2024 Launch

by Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers is excited to announce The Best Lawyers in Australia™ for 2023, including the top lawyers and law firms from Australia.

Australian Parliament beside water at sunset

How Palworld Is Testing the Limits of Nintendo’s Legal Power

by Gregory Sirico

Many are calling the new game Palworld “Pokémon GO with guns,” noting the games striking similarities. Experts speculate how Nintendo could take legal action.

Animated figures with guns stand on top of creatures

Inflation Escalation

by Ashley S. Wagner

Inflation and rising costs are at the forefront of everyone’s mind as we enter 2023. The current volatile market makes it more important than ever to understand the rent escalation clauses in current and future commercial lease agreements.

Suited figure in front of rising market and inflated balloon

What the Courts Say About Recording in the Classroom

by Christina Henagen Peer and Peter Zawadski

Students and parents are increasingly asking to use audio devices to record what's being said in the classroom. But is it legal? A recent ruling offer gives the answer to a question confusing parents and administrators alike.

Is It Legal for Students to Record Teachers?

Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America for 2023

by Best Lawyers

The third edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America™ highlights the legal talent of lawyers who have been in practice less than 10 years.

Three arrows made of lines and dots on blue background

The Upcycle Conundrum

by Karen Kreider Gaunt

Laudable or litigious? What you need to know about potential copyright and trademark infringement when repurposing products.

Repurposed Products and Copyright Infringemen

A Celebration of Excellence: The Best Lawyers in Canada 2024 Awards

by Best Lawyers

As we embark on the 18th edition of The Best Lawyers in Canada™, we are excited to highlight excellence and top legal talent across the country.

Abstract image of red and white Canada flag in triangles

Wage and Overtime Laws for Truck Drivers

by Greg Mansell

For truck drivers nationwide, underpayment and overtime violations are just the beginning of a long list of problems. Below we explore the wages you are entitled to but may not be receiving.

Truck Driver Wage and Overtime Laws in the US

Choosing a Title Company: What a Seller Should Expect

by Roy D. Oppenheim

When it comes to choosing a title company, how much power exactly does a seller have?

Choosing the Title Company As Seller


Bentley & More LLP: Beacon of Hope

by Bentley & More

With a unique blend of expertise in trial advocacy and workers’ compensation, Bentley & More LLP has established itself as a beacon of hope for injured workers.

Bentley & More LLP: Beacon of Hope for Injured Employees

8 Different Types of Criminal Defenses in Law

by Best Lawyers

Learn about the different types of criminal defenses available in law, including innocence, self-defense, insanity and more. Protect your rights today.

Silver handcuffs laying on finger printed papers