Bayer AG defeated failure-to-warn claims when a California state judge ruled that they’re preempted by federal law, though the company must still face several other claims brought by a woman who says she got cancer after using Roundup.
San Bernardino County Judge Gilbert Ochoa agreed with Monsanto and its German parent company that plaintiff Donnetta Stephens’ claims that the companies failed to warn consumers about the dangers of using Roundup are preempted by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, which regulates the labeling of products like Roundup.
At the same time, Judge Ochoa refused to toss the rest of her claims, which include negligence, strict liability design defect and breach of warranty. Bayer had argued that all of Stephens’ causes of action are time-barred because she discovered the potential cause of her cancer in 2017 but didn’t file her suit until 2020.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency holds to the belief that glyphosate, an herbicide in Roundup, is not likely to be a human carcinogen and poses no human health risk.
Stephens used Roundup at some point before 2017. She began experiencing symptoms of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that year, and was diagnosed with the disease that December.
Tens of thousands of other people have sued Monsanto and Bayer AG, contending that Roundup gave them cancer. Monsanto has appealed a nearly $87 million award for a California couple. Former groundskeeper DeWayne “Lee” Johnson also won a $289 million verdict in August 2018 that was later reduced to $20.6 million. Bayer announced in March that it would not ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review that verdict.
Ed Hardeman netted an $80 million verdict in March 2019, later cut to $25 million, and the Ninth Circuit affirmed that judgment in May.
Also in May, a California federal judge rejected Bayer’s $2 billion deal to cover future claims that Roundup causes cancer, prompting the company to announce that it was considering taking the weedkiller’s active ingredient off the U.S. residential market.