An Illinois plaintiff who contracted non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (cancer of the lymph nodes) after using the herbicide Roundup, charges in a new lawsuit filed in federal court that Monsanto knew of the cancer risks since the 1980s, but covered it up.
John Cushman of Effingham County, IL, sprayed Roundup on a regular basis for decades. He filed suit in US District Count for the Southern District of Illinois, alleging that the maker, Monsanto Company of St. Louis, MO, pressured the EPA not to label the herbicide as carcinogenic, and aggressively marketed it as “safer than table salt.” Cushman v. Monsanto, Case No. 16 cv 1042.
He is represented by Robert J. McLaughlin, John Backes Prior and Kyle Pozan of Hart McLaughlin & Eldridge, LLC in Chicago.
Monsanto was forced to drop claims that Roundup was non-toxic and safe in 1996 after the New York Attorney General filed suit, charging that the claims were deceptive and misleading. Monsanto did not change its claims in any other state.
In 1985 the EPA classified glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, as a possible human carcinogen. Succumbing to pressure from Monsanto, in 1991 the EPA changed glyphosate’s classification to a “Group E” — noncarcinogenic for humans. The decision came after two occasions when the EPA found that laboratories hired by Monsanto to test the toxicity of its Roundup products committed scientific fraud.
The EPA had planned to release a new risk assessment by July 2015, but it has delayed releasing it in light of the World Health Organization’s 2015 finding that glyphosate is a “probable carcinogen.”
The complaint argues that because of Monsanto’s fraudulent concealment, the statute of limitations on the claim should be tolled.
“Even as of July 2016, Defendant continues to represent to the public that “Regulatory authorities and independent experts around the world have reviewed numerous long-term/carcinogenicity and genotoxicity studies and agree that there is no evidence that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup® brand herbicides and other glyphosate-based herbicides, causes cancer, even at very high doses, and that it is not genotoxic,” the complaint states (emphasis added).
Plaintiffs in 14 different federal courts are seeking to create the new MDL No. 2741 to hear all the Roundup litigation. The Roundup motion to consolidate (PDF) seeks to organize the litigation in the Southern District of Illinois before Judge Nancy Rosenstengel or David Herndon. A similar motion is pending to consolidate the cases in the US District Court of Hawaii. The first action was filed on October 9, 2015.
Roundup has been on the market for 40 years.
- It is the most widely-used agriculture chemical in history.
- Each year, approximately 250 million pounds of glyphosate are sprayed on crops, commercial nurseries, suburban lawns, parks, and golf courses.
- In 2010, an estimated 70% of corn and cotton and 90% of soybean fields in the United States contained Roundup Ready seeds. The company accounts for 27% of the world seed market.
For further reading, see Plaintiffs Seek to Consolidate Lawsuits Charging that Roundup Causes Cancer