Tuesday, July 12, 2022

U.S. judge OKs refunds for customers in suit that says Monsanto masked Roundup's cancer risks

A federal judge has tentatively approved small refunds for customers in a lawsuit accusing Roundup's manufacturer of hiding cancer risks.

According to a recent story by Bob Egelko in The San Francisco Chronicle, buyers of the weed killer in recent years would be eligible for 20% refunds. 

The amount would be minuscule, however — between 50 cents and $33, depending upon the amounts of 19 versions of the herbicide purchased "during a period determined by the statute of limitations in their state."

Gillian Wade
As an example, the story cites California, the state in which the ruling jurist, U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria of San Francisco, resides. 

There, Egelko's article quotes Gillian Wade, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, as saying, the judgment would mean a refund based on "one product per year for the last five years if they no longer have a receipt or other proof of purchase, and more products if they have such documentation."

The proposed settlement calls for Bayer, the parent company of Monsanto, the giant agribusiness that makes Roundup, to pay between $23 million and $45 million, depending on the claims. Of that amount, the Chronicle story says, "up to 25% would go to attorneys for legal fees and costs, and the rest to customer refunds."

Despite Chhabria's ruling, which seemingly validates the nationwide settlement of the lawsuit accusing Monsanto of false advertising, the company continues to describe the product "as perfectly safe."

Egelko's story notes that Monsanto still cites the weed killer's "approval since 1991 by the U.S, Environmental Protection Agency. But the International Agency for Research on Cancer, an arm of the World Health Organization, classified the herbicide's main ingredient, glyphosate, as a probable cause of human cancer in 2015. And the EPA has now offered to allow California to place cancer warning labels on Roundup sold in the state."

The settlement is separate from the tens of thousands of suits filed against Monsanto and Bayer by people diagnosed with cancer after spraying Roundup, the world's most popular weed killer, on their crops. San Francisco Bay Area juries alone already have awarded damages of $133 million in three of those cases, and just recently the U.S. Supreme Court denied review of Monsanto's appeal of the award to one of the plaintiffs, Edwin Hardeman, a former school groundskeeper in Benicia who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's disease in 2015.

Chhabria's ruling, the judge emphasized, doesn't hinder any customer's right to sue for any illness or other harm caused by the weed killer.

He is scheduled to finalize his approval of the refunds in January.

Information on other lawsuits related to diseases can be found in "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.

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