A San Francisco jury finds Roundup caused a man’s cancer just as it was about to enter its second week of deliberations. In the second Roundup cancer trial to be heard in a courtroom, final arguments in Edwin Hardeman’s case against the manufacturer (Monsanto was purchased by Bayer for $63 billion) were delivered last week and the jury had been deliberating since. As those closely watching the Roundup trial began to doubt whether a unanimous decision could be reached, the jury did just that – finding that Roundup contributed to Hardeman’s non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Over 11,000 lawsuits wait to be heard that link Roundup and its main active ingredient glyphosate to a variety of adverse reactions and effects, including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The first case was that of Dewayne Johnson, a California school groundskeeper. Johnson sued the secretive corporation for creating the product that caused his cancer after his work led to frequent exposure to the chemical, including a large spill which saturated his clothing and made contact with large portions of his skin.
Johnson’s case was the first to attack Monsanto’s use of “scientific studies” to prove and assert glyphosate’s safety. His trial exposed the fact that much of that research was funded and supported by Monsanto itself and, in some cases, studies had been ghostwritten from inside the corporation. A jury sided with Johnson and initially awarded him $289 million last summer, although that amount was reduced and is still under appeal by Monsanto.
Hardeman also faced “extreme” exposure to Roundup, as detailed by his attorney Aimee Wagstaff. Having sprayed the chemical more than 300 times over 26 years, Wagstaff argued that “the dose makes the poison. The more you use, the higher the risk.”
Wagstaff has raised the ire of the judge in the case, U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria, on multiple occasions and the level of contention in the relationship between the two has raised some eyebrows. Wagstaff has used many of her statements to the jury to focus on the impact of Hardeman’s diagnosis on his family and personify him in other ways. She has also introduced evidence similar to that which formed the basis of the Johnson verdict to the Hardeman jury; evidence of Monsanto’s attempts to influence regulators and the public over the safety of its chemical.
This is noteworthy because, up to the time of this writing, Judge Chhabria has barred such evidence from being introduced. Wagstaff was sanctioned $500 by Judge Chhabria for points she made during her opening statement alone, and the level of conflict between the two has only increased. Some are speculating as to the roots of the conflict.
The intensity of the conflict between Wagstaff and Chhabria would be noteworthy on its own. However, 760 additional Roundup cancer lawsuits have been consolidated to be heard in Chhabria’s courtroom. His influence, and the possible influence of his past, goes far beyond Mr. Hardeman and his family.
The next phase of the Hardeman Roundup trial will begin immediately and focus on Monsanto’s liability. Lawyers will present evidence, including internal Monsanto documents, attempting to show the company knew the dangers of Roundup and glyphosate and attempted to cover them up.