Six Roundup cancer cases are scheduled to go to trial right after the New Year, even as Bayer is attempting to negotiate a global settlement in Berlin. Among those plaintiffs are two children who suffer from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL), allegedly due to exposure to glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide.
One of those children is 12-year-old Jake Bellah, whose counsel filed a motion in July to expedite his case because of his age. Lawyers for Bayer opposed the motion, arguing that they required a longer period of time in order to prepare their defense in light of plaintiff's young age and the unique medical issues involved.
According to the Bellah family's attorneys, young Jake was exposed to glyphosate over several years as he was growing up, playing in the yard and around the garden where his father, unaware of the risks, often applied Roundup. The complaint states that Jake contracted NHL as a result. The boy has received chemotherapy, and his illness appears to be in remission.
Jake is not the only child whose family is attempting to hold Bayer accountable for the effects of its product, which has already been banned in several countries as well as a number of cities and counties in the U.S. According to a report from US Right to Know published last summer, at least five other children have cases pending against Bayer, which acquired Monsanto, the original manufacturer of Roundup, in a $63 billion deal in May of 2018.
Four previous glyphosate trials have ended in verdicts favoring plaintiffs, in which juries awarded multi-million dollar judgments. The first, decided in August 2018, involved DeWayne Johnson, a former groundskeeper for a California school district who regularly used Roundup in the course of his job. The jury, in that case, awarded Johnson $289 million, although that verdict was later reduced in accordance with California's limits on punitive damages. Another glyphosate trial in May of this year ended in a $2 billion verdict for Alberta and Alva Pillod, who both contracted NHL from glyphosate exposure.
Jake Bellah's case is the first involving a child with NHL to come to trial. U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria, who presided over DeWayne Johnson's case, has called Monsanto's actions “reprehensible,” adding that in addition to their attempts to “combat, undermine or explain away any challenges to Roundup's safety,” the company has demonstrated a “lack of concern about the risk(s).” His opinion is shared by millions of others around the world, who have continued to speak out and fight against the use of glyphosate.
The news that children have contracted NHL after being exposed to glyphosate will not help Bayer's tarnished reputation, which has suffered since its takeover of Monsanto. Bayer, the net value of which has fallen below the price it paid for Monsanto, continues to defend Roundup, insisting that it is “safe” when “used according to directions.” Last April, Bayer shareholders, who have lost nearly $40 billion since the Monsanto takeover, condemned CEO Werner Baumann and other executives in a no-confidence vote over their role in the acquisition and subsequent fall in the value of their shares.
Since last year, the number of pending glyphosate lawsuits against Bayer have increased by 67 percent. As of the beginning of November, approximately 42,700 complaints have been filed.