(Updated July 27 with court approval for trial to be livestreamed)
A new Roundup trial is scheduled to get underway next week, as three cancer patients face off against Monsanto in the company’s former hometown of St. Louis, Missouri, alleging exposure to the company’s weedkilling chemical caused their illnesses.
July selection in the case is set to start August 1 in St. Louis County Circuit Court in Clayton, the seat of St. Louis County government. The three plaintiffs were chosen for the trial from the dozens of plaintiffs represented in a case titled Alesi v Monsanto.
Jurors will hear about the health problems of plaintiff Cheryl Davis, 70, who has suffered through two bouts with follicular lymphoma her doctors have told her is considered incurable, as well as the case of 65-year-old Marty Cox, who is in remission from diffuse large B cell lymphoma. Both of their lymphomas are types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Cox has a host of other medical issues including diabetes and has been a smoker. The third plaintiff is 75-year-old Gary Gentile who also has suffered from non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).
All three were longtime users of Monsanto herbicides, such as Roundup, that were made with the active chemical ingredient called glyphosate. The International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2015 classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen with a positive association to NHL.
St. Louis County Circuit Judge Brian May issued an order July 27 allowing the trial to be livestreamed by Courtroom View Network from Aug. 3 through the completion of the trial, subject to certain conditions. The approval for the broadcast came despite objections from Monsanto.
Since then tens of thousands of people have sued the company alleging exposure to Roundup caused their cancers. Bayer AG purchased Monsanto in June 2018 in the midst of the first Roundup cancer case to go to trial, losing that trial and two following.
Bayer in 2020 said it would spend billions of dollars to try to settle the litigation but has been unable to put all the cases to rest, and has won the most recent handful of trials.
Monsanto operated for more than 100 years in the St. Louis area and the sprawling corporate campus in the St. Louis suburbs still remains in operation, though now under the Bayer name. Though other trials have been scheduled in the city, none have gone to conclusion before, ending in settlements or otherwise sidetracked.
Gibbs Henderson, a lawyer representing the three individuals whose claims will be the focus point of this new trial, said he fully expects the trial to start as scheduled. Monsanto lost a bid for summary judgment in its favor last week and also lost in an effort to exclude the plaintiffs’ scientific experts from testifying, though the judge in the case did agree to certain limitations on the scientific testimony.
Both sides were spending this week in St. Louis arguing over various motions regarding what could be introduced as evidence, including opposing arguments about whether plaintiffs’ could tell jurors about a recent federal court decision that overturned the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) safety finding on glyphosate.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion in June saying the EPA’s 2020 assessment of glyphosate, including the finding that it was not likely to be carcinogenic, was deeply flawed. The court vacated the assessment and ordered the agency to apply further consideration to evidence.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs will argue that Monsanto engaged in fraud and was negligent in failing to warn consumers about the cancer risks that they allege the company knew about and tried to hide.
Monsanto and Bayer have maintained that there is no cancer risk and that regulatory backing and years of scientific research supports that position.
Several additional trials are on the calendar for this fall and into the winter and early 2023 and beyond.