Roundup is the most popular weed killer in West Virginia and around the country, but its prolonged use has been linked to the development of deadly cancers including non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Roundup was originally sold in the United States by Monsanto, which was acquired by the German multinational chemicals company Bayer in 2018. Bayer decided to proceed with the $66 billion deal despite knowing that the Missouri-based agrochemical manufacturer faced thousands of lawsuits over its controversial glyphosate-based herbicide.
One of these lawsuits was filed by an elderly California couple who claimed that their non-Hodgkin's lymphoma was directly related to their long-term use of Roundup weed killer. On May 13, a jury awarded the couple $55 million in compensatory damages and $2 billion in punitive damages after determining that Roundup was a defective product and its makers had not adequately warned the public about the dangers of using it.
A Bayer representative said that the company would appeal the verdict and maintained that Roundup was safe. Glyphosate was classified by the World Health Organization as a likely carcinogen in 2015, but regulatory bodies including the Environmental Protection Agency and the European Chemicals Agency have deemed the chemical safe. Legal experts expect the $2 billion punitive damages award to be substantially reduced even if Bayer's appeal is unsuccessful because the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the ratio of punitive damages to compensatory damages cannot exceed 9-1.
In addition to filing lawsuits against allegedly negligent manufacturers, individuals who develop debilitating diseases like cancer after being exposed to toxic chemicals may apply for Social Security disability benefits. Attorneys with experience in this area may help individuals who are no longer able to work and earn a living to navigate what can be a confusing and frustrating benefits application process and advocate on their behalf if their claims are denied.