Roundup Trials: 2019 in Review and Monsanto’s Legal Road Ahead

Reader Contribution by Douglas Dedrick and Healing Law
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Photo by Pixabay/maxmann

As you have likely heard by now, the last year and a half has been a rough ride for Monsanto legally speaking.

Ever since August 10th, 2018, when the San Francisco County Superior Court ruled in favor of the plaintiff, DeWayne Johnson, there has been a flurry of litigation against Monsanto. Surprisingly, the cases are being decided against the company.

Today, let’s take a look at the Roundup trials of 2019, and more importantly take a look at the road ahead in 2020 for Roundup and those impacted by Roundup exposure. 

Here’s the deal, there is too much for one individual to keep up with!

So to get a thorough look into the matter, I reached out to Carey Gillam, author of Whitewash- The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer and the Corruption of Science, and research director for US Right To Know (USRTK), one of the leading sources of information on Roundup litigation.

With her help, let’s take a look at how the Roundup Trials have fared so far, and where they will likely go in the years ahead.

The 2019 Roundup Trials: Year in Review

This is crazy, but of the 1,000’s of cases filed against Monsanto. Only 2 were publicly settled in 2019. I suppose that is the legal system for you.

The two trials decided against Monsanto in 2019, in regards to the cancer risks of their Roundup product were:  

March 19th, 2019: a jury unanimously decided that Roundup was a “substantial factor” in the development of Edwin Hardeman’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. May 13, 2019: a married couple, Alva Pilliod and Alberta Pilliod, were initially awarded $2 billion for damages suspected to be caused by Roundup exposure.

Although only 2 trials were decided in 2019. As of May 2019, there were more than 13,000 plaintiffs waiting to have their cases heard. Many trials were postponed until January of 2020. Needless to say, roundup exposure lawyers have been busy!

To get some clarity on the issue I asked Carey Gillan of USRTK how she would summarize the Roundup exposure trials of 2019, and if there was anything that stood out to her. This was her response:

“The Pilliod and Hardeman trials were significant because they continued to expose internal Monsanto documents that showed the company engaged in years of deceptive tactics designed to hide the risks of its herbicides. The juries in those trials, found, just as the jury did in the first trial, that Monsanto should pay punitive damages because its conduct in failing to warn consumers of the risks was so egregious.” – Carey Gillan, Author, Journalist and Research Director of USRTK.

Carey Gillan brings up a point which is too often overlooked by “nay-sayers” that still claim that Roundup is completely safe. Monsanto’s hid the risks of using their herbicide product. This is one of the biggest factors which is resulting in decisions against Monsanto.

As a landscaper myself, I simply can not comprehend why the company would pretend like there is zero risk in using a product designed to kill organic life. I myself always thought it was common sense that over exposure to a chemical based herbicide, including Roundup could be harmful and opted to use organic weed killer instead. Why a company would over hype the safety of a product is beyond me.

Photo by Pixabay/Edward Lich

DOJ Charges Roundup Attorney for Extortion

One of the more notable incidents that occurred in 2019 in regards to the Roundup trials, was the arrest and charges brought against Attorney Timothy Litzenburg. Litzenburg was on the legal team which won the landmark case on behalf of DeWayne Johnson in 2018.

Litzenburg allegedly told an opposing attorney that he would “take a dive” and “ask the wrong questions” in a new case similar to his first against Roundup in 2018. He is alleged to have offered this service for a consulting fee at the “very reasonable price” of $200 million dollars. Which would have left the individuals that hired him to sue for their damages with nothing.  

2020 and the Road Ahead: The Battle for Justice Continues

As if the 13,000 plaintiffs who had cases pending against Monsanto in 2019 wasn’t enough. Currently, in January 2020, there are over 40,000 people with cases filed against Monsanto with allegations of harm caused by the Roundup product. Needless to say, things are still looking bad for Monsanto, a company now owned by Bayer Pharmaceuticals.

Many of the trials which began in 2019 were postponed for various reasons by Monsanto’s, attorneys and the courts. However, many trials are slated to be heard in January of 2020, but as of the writing of this article, none have been decided.

To find out more about the road ahead, I asked Carey Gillan how she thought the 2020 Roundup trials would go.

Here is what she had to say: 

“We are likely to see a major settlement of most, if not all, of the Roundup litigation in the near future. Both sides would like to see the litigation settled before Bayer’s annual shareholders’ meeting in April. Both sides have a lot to lose in the uncertainty that lies with the appellate courts.” -Carey Gillan, Author, Journalist and Research Director of USRTK.

It’s true many cases get settled before trial. Simply put, having a decision now, is usually more favorable for most people than uncertainty. With many of the Roundup trials already dragging on for longer than one year, most people would be happy to see an end to the stress and hassle of court. 

The Future of USRTK 

One of the biggest resources I have found for researching the Roundup exposure trials as they develop is the US Right to Know, non-profit group. Being that Carey Gillan is the research director of USRTK, I definitely wanted to get her perspective on the issue.

She and the USRTK non-profit have done, and continue to do, a tremendous amount of research regarding pesticides including Roundup. As well as GMO’s, artificial sweeteners and the companies that produce them.

Carey Gillam would like to let readers know that USRTK relies on donations to continue their work. Stating: 

“US Right to Know is a small non-profit with very limited resources. We are in need of donations, large or small, to help us continue to pay for the documents we obtained from court files, which we provide free to the public, and to allow us to continue to do the reporting that keeps the public, and other members of the press, informed.” – Carey Gillan, Author, Journalist and Research Director of USRTK.

The Bottom Line

Regardless of the slow, sloth like process of the American legal system. The fact that the people continue to grind against one of the largest corporations in the world, and win, is pretty astounding. Perhaps these trials will lead to a future where corporations who knowingly place the public at risk, will begin to pay the price.

There is an age old saying that I am reminded of “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephesians 6:12

In a world where so much seems to be going wrong, these trials are a beacon that shows justice is still alive and well. Justice may be slow, but when the people actually focus their efforts. When we don’t give into the distractions put forth by the same system that is causing harm. We can make the right thing happen. Like labeling GMOs, which took many years to happen, and finally came to pass in near silence.

Douglas Dedrickis landscaper, documentarian and environmental law writer. When he’s not looking for things to investigate, he is usually writing articles about lawn care. Connect with him atHealing Law, and read all of Douglas’ MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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