Filing a Roundup Lawsuit – A Complete Guide
One of the worst nightmares that every homeowner has is weeds. Everyone wants a well-maintained lawn, but once weeds start taking over, it can seem like nothing you do can keep those persistent irritants from growing back.
To fix this problem, homeowners, as well as nursery workers, landscapers, gardeners, etc. all over the world, use Roundup Weed Killer, made by the company called Monsanto.
It is one of the world’s most popular weed killers as it works effectively to eliminate pests with very little damage to plants and crops as well as the environment. Roundup Weed Killer was considered one of the safest herbicides due to the advertising campaign launched by Monsanto.
However, the International Agency for Research on Cancer conducted research recently which linked the weed killer to a number of different types of blood cancer because of the presence of its active ingredient, glyphosate.
In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer announced that it was highly likely that glyphosate is carcinogenic to humans, concluding that it was a Group 2A agent. The agency’s findings are based on tests that showed that glyphosate caused damage to DNA and chromosomes in human cells. This damage, in turn, can result in several types of blood cancer.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer made its conclusion following an extended analysis of peer-reviewed research conducted for many years that suggested that glyphosate caused serious side effects. After this, California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment announced that it would add the chemical to its state list of agents that cause cancer.
Monsanto actually filed a lawsuit against the agency to prevent the publication but was unsuccessful in the trial court. Although the manufacturer is appealing the decision, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment has already added the chemical to its list of known carcinogens.
What is Glyphosate?
As mentioned earlier, glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup Weed Killer. The herbicide’s manufacturer, Monsanto discovered it in 1970 and added it to the product for sale in 1974.
When it comes to weed killers, glyphosate, or Roundup, is the most popular in the United States, and across the world and until 2000, Monsanto was the only company that had the exclusive right to sell it.
A lot of people use glyphosate to eliminate weeds on their lawns and home gardens, and it is also widely used commercially in nurseries, golf courses, parks and on crops. People spray an estimated 250 million pounds of the chemical every year. It is a non-selective herbicide, meaning that it will kill most plants that it is sprayed on – it does this by preventing those plants from producing certain proteins that are necessary for their growth.
As glyphosate has the propensity to kill not just weeds, but plants as well, Monsanto developed special genetically-modified seeds that have the ability to withstand the chemical.
The manufacturer marketed them under the same “Roundup Ready” and they can resist the properties of the herbicide and continue to grow after they have been sprayed with it. In 2015, Roundup sales earned Monsanto approximately $4.8 billion and it has also become the largest supplier of seeds that have been modified to resist the effects of glyphosate.
Roundup Weed Killer and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
A number of homeowners, landscapers, and farmers who have developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma have come forward saying that they suspect that exposure to Roundup Weed Killer caused them to develop this type of cancer. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a type of blood cancer that causes the body to produce excessive amounts of abnormal lymphocytes, which are a type of white blood cell.
Some of the common symptoms of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma include:
- Swollen abdomen
- Weight loss
- Pressure or pain in the chest
- Cough or shortness of breath
- Enlarged lymph nodes
If you have been exposed to Roundup and started experiencing any of these symptoms, you should immediately visit your doctor. People who are most at risk of developing cancer due to exposure to this herbicide include nursery workers, landscapers, farm workers, and others who work in professions that require them to use herbicides like Roundup Weed Killer frequently.
Homeowners who use this herbicide for their gardens and lawns are at risk as well, especially if they have used Roundup on a regular basis.
Roundup has also been linked to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma’s subtypes of cancer such as follicular lymphoma, diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, cutaneous T-cell, and mantle cell.
Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma & Roundup Cancer
Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, or DLBCL, is a type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that starts in white blood cells called lymphocytes. It is the most common subtype of this lymphoma, accounting for about 40% of all cases, and there are several types.
Although it usually grows in the lymph nodes, DLBCL can also develop in other parts of the body. It also grows fast, but with treatment, 3 out of 4 patients are free of the disease and about half are cured. Research is also being currently conducted to make treatments even better for those with DLBCL.
The cause of DLBCL and other non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas is unknown. However, doctors do know that your likelihood of developing them is higher if you are:
- Middle-aged or older – people diagnosed with this lymphoma are, on average, 64 years old
- Not African-American or Asian
You are also more likely to get DLBCL if you suffer from an autoimmune disease, or if you have a compromised or weakened immune system in another way. Additionally, your odds are also higher if you have gone through both radiation and chemotherapy treatments before, or you have been exposed to higher radiation levels or certain chemicals.
In most cases, the first sign of DLBCL is a lump in your neck, armpit, or groin. It usually grows very quickly and it may or may not cause pain. In roughly 40% of people who get DLBCL, it shows up in other parts of the body, like the bowel or stomach.
You may also experience:
- Weight loss
- Extreme night sweats
- Cough or shortness of breath
- Pain or pressure in the chest or belly
If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, you should visit your doctor immediately. To get a diagnosis, your doctor may ask questions including:
- Is there any swelling in your neck, armpits, groin, or any other part of your body?
- If so, when did it start and do you feel any pain?
- Have you noticed anything else that causes you concern?
- Do you have a tendency to get infected a lot?
- Have you recently had any infections?
- Have you ever been diagnosed with lymphoma?
- Are there other medical conditions you have?
- What medications do you take for them?
It is likely that your doctor will take out part of all of the lymph node – a procedure known as a biopsy. If he thinks that swelling in another part of your body is DLBCL, a biopsy of that area will be done as well.
He will then check the samples under a microscope to see if there are any sick cells. Tests can also be done on the samples, such as one that sees if your B-cells have any special markers.
When the biopsy shows that you have cancer, your doctor will conduct more tests to find out what parts of your body it has affected. These tests help determine the stage of the disease as well as how far it has spread. They can also be helpful in guiding your treatment and check how effective it is.
Bone Marrow Biopsy: For this test, your doctor will give you a shot to numb the back of your hip and use a needle to remove a small amount of liquid bone marrow to take as a sample for a biopsy. Once the sample removal is done, your doctor will look at it under a microscope to check the size and shape of the white blood cells.
Computed Tomography (CT) and PET Scans: A CT scan is a powerful x-ray that provides your doctor with detailed images of the inside of your body. This is one of the tests that can be done to diagnose DLBCL. A PET scan can also be done. In this test, radioactive materials are used to look for any signs of cancer in your body.
Due to the fact that DLBCL grows at a fast rate when doctors find it, it is usually in multiple places in your body. This makes it important to get treatment quickly. There are a few factors that determine the right type of treatment for you, such as your age, general health condition, the subtype and stage of the cancer and what parts of your body it has spread to. A number called an IPI score take these factors into account to determine the severity of your cancer.
R-CHOP is the most common treatment to start with for DLBCL. This treatment involves a combination of pills and IV medicines which are given in cycles, in most cases every 3 weeks. Your cycles will depend on how serious your cancer is – the more serious the disease, the more cycles you will require.
The “R” in R-CHOP stands for rituximab (Rituxan). The treatment also uses other chemotherapy drugs, such as:
Each chemotherapy drug fights the DLBCL in a different way, which means that they are more effective when they are used together. A type of immunotherapy, rituximab attaches to the cancer cells in order to help your immune system in finding and destroying them. The goal is to kill only the cancer cells while leaving healthy cells alone.
If your DLBCL has not spread far, you may require few R-CHOP cycles. However, you will get radiation treatment in the area affected by the cancer. In this treatment, the cancer cells are damaged by x-rays. Unlike healthy cells, they are unable to heal and will die. Typically, radiation is done several days a week for a couple of weeks.
In some cases, after their R-CHOP treatment, people are prescribed lenalidomide (Revlimid) to prevent the recurrence of the cancer. The drug can also be used when DLBCL does not respond to treatment or it comes back.
There is also a more aggressive combination that is similar to R-CHOP called EPOCH-R. This treatment includes a fifth chemotherapy drug called etoposide (Vepesid). Depending on how the treatment is working, the doses of the medicine are adjusted with each cycle. While it is as effective as R-CHOP, there is a higher risk of related health issues.
Other combinations of drugs may be used by doctors for people who are able to handle chemotherapy but who have health problems that keep them from using R-CHOP or who are older.
DLBCL does not return for about two-thirds of people after they have received treatment. The cancer can be harder to cure when it comes back. If the first chemotherapy combination worked in some ways bit does not completely clear the DLBCL, or if returns, high-dose chemotherapy with a stem cell transplant may be recommended. However, you should bear in mind that not everyone is healthy enough to get the transplant.
It is likely that you will get a type of procedure for DLBCL known as autologous stem cell transplant. In this procedure, the blood stem cells that are transplanted are taken from the patient’s own body, rather than from a donor.
After the transplant, it can take 8 to 14 days for the bone marrow to start making new, healthy blood cells. This may require a hospital stay for a couple of weeks. While your bone marrow gets back to normal, you could more likely to develop an infection, so doctors will give you antibiotics to prevent illness during this time. And your risk for infection may still be higher for several months after you leave the hospital.
Follicular Lymphoma & Roundup Cancer
This is another type of lymphoma that is linked to Roundup Weed Killer. In most cases, it grows slowly but responds well to treatment. However, follicular lymphoma is very hard to cure.
Although it can take many years to do so, it often returns after treatment. It is not always clear if immediate treatment is required for the lymphoma, especially if it is not causing any health issues other than lymph nodes that are slightly swollen. For some people, treatment may not be required at all. For those who do, it can be several years before they need to get treatment.
Treatment for Stage I and Early Stage II
If the follicular lymphoma develops in just one lymph node group or two nearby groups that are both above and below the diaphragm and treatment is required, radiation therapy, called involved site radiation, is the preferred treatment for the lymph node areas affected by lymphoma. Other options include treatment with chemotherapy combined with a monoclonal antibody, such as obinutuzumab or rituximab, rituximab alone, or chemotherapy alone, which may be followed by radiation therapy.
Treatment for Stage II Bulky Lymphomas and Stages III and IV
A combination of monoclonal antibody, such as the ones mentioned above, and chemotherapy is the most common treatment option for Stage II Lymphomas. The chemotherapy given can be of one drug, such as bendamustine, or a combination of drugs, such as CHOP that stands for cyclophosphamide, prednisone, vincristine and doxorubicin, or in some cases CVP (cyclophosphamide, vincristine, and prednisone) treatment regimens.
For initial treatment, other options include chemo alone (using one or several drugs) or rituximab alone. If the lymphoma causes some lymph nodes to become very large, doctors may use radiation to reduce the symptoms. In most cases, this is used to treat patients who are way too sick for chemo treatment.
Another option for initial treatment is the monoclonal antibody ibritumobab (Zevalin) which is radioactive in nature. However, this is mostly used as a second-line treatment.
For those who cannot tolerate chemo regimens that are rather intensive, milder chemo drugs, such as chlorambucil or cyclophosphamide or rituximab alone, or both may be good options.
If the lymphoma does not begin to respond to initial forms of treatment or if it reoccurs or relapses again later, various other tgchemo drugs, monoclonal antibodies, targeted drugs, or some combination of these may be used to treat it. If the cancer responds to this treatment, doctors may recommend getting a stem cell transplant.
Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia & Roundup Cancer
This is another version of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that is linked to Roundup. In chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), the cancer cells are in the blood and bone marrow. This lymphoma tends to grow at a slow rate but it is very difficult to cure.
If it is not growing quickly or causing any problems, doctors can watch it closely without treating it for a time. If the patient needs treatment, the stage of the lymphoma will play a role in what type of treatment they get.
When the lymphoma is in the lymph node area or one lymph node (Stage I), doctors may use radiation therapy alone as treatment.
After CLL is found and staged, your treatment options will be discussed with you by your cancer care team. While not everyone needs immediate treatment, when it is needed, the main treatments that doctors use include the following:
- Targeted therapy
- Monoclonal antibodies
- Stem cell transplant
- Supportive care
In some cases, radiation therapy, surgery or leukapheresis may be used to treat CLL. When it comes to treatment, it is important for patients to take their time and consider the options available to them. When it comes to choosing a treatment for CLL, it is important to consider the stage of the leukemia and other prognostic factors, which you can discuss with your doctor or cancer care team.
Mantle Cell Lymphoma & Roundup Cancer
Mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) is a subtype of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It is a relatively uncommon type that accounts for roughly 5% to 10% of all cases of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It affects the mantle zone, or the outer edge, of the B-cells in the follicle of the lymph node. The exact cause of this type of lymphoma is yet to be found.
In most cases, the first sign of MCL is a painless swelling in the armpit, neck, and/or groin. It may affect multiple lymph nodes as well as other parts of the body, including the tonsils and adenoids, spinal cord, brain, blood, bone marrow, liver, spleen, and gastrointestinal tract.
This type of lymphoma also commonly affects the bowel – a sign of which is worsening diarrhea. Other symptoms of MCL may include fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, fevers and night sweats, abdominal bloating, and unexplained weight loss.
While mantle cell lymphoma acts as a low-grade lymphoma under the microscope, most behave like an aggressive, or high-grade, lymphoma. They are treated as high-grade lymphoma in the majority of cases. This cancer is in most cases treated via a combination chemotherapy either with or without the presence of a monoclonal antibody, such as rituximab. The most common of the cancer regimen used in the treatment of MCL are listed below:
Elderly patients or those who are not healthy enough to endure combination chemotherapy side effects may be given single-drug treatments such as cyclophosphamide, chlorambucil, and fludarabine, which is a drug most commonly given in the form of a tablet.
Other therapies include:
- Radioimmunotherapy – a combination of radiotherapy and a monoclonal antibody
- Allogeneic or autologous stem cell transplants
Initially, treatment for MCL is often successful but it is highly common for relapses to occur.
Did Monsanto Know About the Side Effects of Roundup Weed Killer?
In most product cases, what a manufacturer knew about its product’s dangers and when it found out about those dangers plays a large role in liability.
A judge in California unsealed internal Monsanto documents in March 2017, and those documents suggested that the company had ghostwritten “academic” research that it used on a continual basis to purport the safety of Roundup Weed Killer.
There was also a suggestion in the documents that the company worked in concert with an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official to quash a review on glyphosate that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services was to conduct.
Months before the conclusion by the International Agency for Research on Cancer about glyphosate, an EPA official divulged the carcinogen classification that was still pending at the time to Monsanto. This allowed the company to take a mass public relations action immediately in order to counter and diminish the findings in an effort to ease the financial blow that the classification would have otherwise resulted in.
The same official from the EPA then worked to keep the Department of Health and Human Services from conducting its own review of Roundup Weed Killer.
In addition to these documents, there are other suggestions that Monsanto has known about Roundup’s potential for causing cancer for nearly 30 years and has taken every step it can to prevent that information from getting out.
Even the conclusion of the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the action taken by the state of California, the company insists that it is perfectly safe to use glyphosate. In interviews, its lobbyists have even gone to the extent of saying that you could drink a quart of the herbicide and it would not cause you any harm.
Statute of Limitations and Discovery Rules and Roundup Claims
A statute of limitations is a time limit on filing a lawsuit imposed by the state. If you fail to file a claim for injuries within the specified time period and in the appropriate court, it can result in your claim being barred forever, regardless of its merits.
Statutes of limitations are created by states to encourage swift action, which helps preserve evidence. For example, your memory of an event will much clearer one year later than it would be five years later.
Additionally, the sooner you file a claim, the more likely it is for business documents and medical records to be available and retrievable. States also want to make sure that potential defendants do not have to indefinitely prepare for litigation.
To determine the statute of limitations for filing a Roundup lawsuit in your state, you should work with an experienced attorney. They will calculate the appropriate statute of limitations and make sure to preserve all relevant evidence so that they can prepare the best possible case for you in a timely manner.
In some regards, there are conservative interpretations due to state “discovery rules”. These rules pause the running of the clock of the statute of limitations and give plaintiffs a little more time to file a claim until they discover that they have been injured, or have reason to discover. In some states, plaintiffs are even given time to file claims until after discovering why they have been injured or by whom.
Lawsuits Over the Side Effects of Roundup Weed Killer
There have been at least 15 lawsuits filed against Monsanto over Roundup’s carcinogenic qualities. One of these lawsuits is between the company and a former landscaper from California for the County of Los Angeles. The plaintiff in this lawsuit claims that he developed cancer as a result of regular occupational exposure to glyphosate.
A school teacher filed a lawsuit against Monsanto as well, claiming that she developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after she sprayed Roundup Weed Killer on her property every 2 weeks for more than 8 years. Yet another lawsuit was filed by a former Hawaii coffee grower, claiming that she developed cancer as a result of using the herbicide on her commercial crops for 9 years, from 1995 to 2004.
Where are Roundup Lawsuits Being Filed?
Due to the high number of Roundup cases, they have been centralized in one court in what is called a Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) in the US District Court for the Northern District of California. All the Roundup cases are overseen by the MDL court to make sure that there is uniformity of decision in pretrial matters. The first trials, known as “bellwether” trials, are also presided over by this court.
The Roundup cases that were recently filed were pending in front of US District Judge Vince Chhabria. On December 11th, 2017, live expert witness testimony began in the MDL and summary judgment argument was heard on December 15th, 2017.
Prior to these events taking place, the counsel for the plaintiff and defense would have conducted extensive discovery, which includes written depositions and interrogatories, and also attended multiple hearings with the judge to sort through matters involving discovery and information related to the designated experts.
In some cases, the first bellwether trials will jumpstart settlement negotiations, but either way, this should not be taken as a sure sign of results.
Do you have a Roundup Cancer Lawsuit?
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer after using Roundup weed killer, you may be entitled to compensation. You should speak with an experienced product liability lawyer handling Roundup lawsuits. The lawyer will offer you a free case review. Remember, time is limited so if you suspect that your cancer was caused by exposure to Roundup, you should speak with a lawyer immediately.