What Do I Need to Prove in My Roundup Case?

A lawsuit over health problems linked to use of Roundup might rely on a number of different fault (liability) theories.

Roundup and many other weed killing products contain glyphosate, which has been linked to serious health problems (including non-Hodgkin's lymphoma). According to Bayer AG (the German conglomerate that acquired Roundup manufacturer Monsanto in 2016) there are approximately 125,000 filed and unfiled claims against Monsanto over the safety of Roundup.

If you and your attorney decide to file a Roundup lawsuit, there are a number of legal arguments you might use to hold Monsanto liable for your diagnosed illness and the impact it has had on your life. Note that these arguments were all successfully applied in the three Roundup cases that have gone to trial so far—all of which resulted in verdicts in favor of the plaintiffs, and spurred a massive settlement agreement; details discussed below.

Defective Design

Under a defective design claim (which is an offshoot of a legal concept known as product liability) a plaintiff argues that the design of a product like Roundup was defective because it did not perform as safely as an ordinary consumer would have expected it to perform. A defective design claim is a "strict liability" claim, meaning the plaintiff does not need to prove that Monsanto was negligent or careless in designing Roundup. The plaintiff merely needs to prove that the product was defective and harmed the plaintiff. More specifically, the plaintiff must demonstrate the following elements:

  • Monsanto manufactured, distributed or sold Roundup
  • Roundup did not perform as safely as an ordinary consumer would have expected it to perform when used or misused in an intended or reasonably foreseeable way
  • the plaintiff was harmed, and
  • Roundup's failure to perform safely was a substantial factor in causing the plaintiff's harm.

Failure to Warn

    Under a failure to warn claim, a plaintiff asserts that Roundup lacked appropriate warnings concerning the health risks associated with its use. In a failure to warn claim (which is another type of strict liability claim), the plaintiff must usually demonstrate:

    • Monsanto manufactured, distributed or sold Roundup
    • Roundup had risks that were known or knowable in light of the scientific knowledge that was generally accepted in the scientific community at the time of manufacture, distribution, and sale
    • the potential risks presented a substantial danger when Roundup was used or misused in an intended or reasonably foreseeable way
    • ordinary consumers would not have recognized the potential risks
    • Monsanto failed to adequately warn of the potential risks
    • the plaintiff was harmed, and
    • the lack of a sufficient warning was a substantial factor in causing plaintiff's harm.

    Negligent Design

    Under a negligent design claim, a plaintiff asserts that Monsanto failed to meet its legal duty to consumers in designing Roundup. The plaintiff must show that Monsanto was unreasonably careless in connection with its design of Roundup. Required elements here are:

    • Monsanto designed, manufactured and supplied Roundup
    • Monsanto was negligent in designing, manufacturing and supplying Roundup
    • the plaintiff was harmed, and
    • Monsanto's negligence was a substantial factor in causing the plaintiff's harm.

    Get details on the fault concept of negligence.

    Negligent Failure to Warn

    Under this kind of claim, a plaintiff asserts that Monsanto was unreasonably careless in its failure to warn consumers regarding risks associated with Roundup. The plaintiff must typically prove the following elements:

    • Monsanto manufactured, distributed or sold Roundup
    • Monsanto knew or reasonably should have known that Roundup was dangerous or likely to be dangerous when used or misused in an intended or reasonably foreseeable manner
    • Monsanto knew or reasonably should have known that users would not realize the danger
    • Monsanto failed to adequately warn of the danger of Roundup
    • a reasonable manufacturer, distributor or seller under the same or similar circumstances would have warned of the danger of Roundup
    • the plaintiff was harmed, and
    • Monsanto's failure to warn was a substantial factor in causing the plaintiff's harm.

    In addition to the above arguments, your attorney may include a number of other legal arguments against Monsanto, including breach of express warranty, breach of implied warranty, misrepresentation and fraud claims. Additional claims that rely on state advertising or consumer protection laws may also be invoked.

    How a Recent Roundup Settlement Could Affect Your Case

    Most lawsuits alleging harm from Roundup settle, but in rare instances a case will make it all the way to trial. So far, three Roundup jury trials have gone forward, and in all three, verdicts have come back in favor of the plaintiffs, who were awarded millions in damages. Monsanto is appealing all of these verdicts. Get more details on recent developments in Roundup litigation.

    Following Monsanto's tremendous legal losses in the three cases that went to trial, Bayer AG began settlement talks with several plaintiffs' firms representing clients with Roundup claims. In June 2020, the parties entered into a $10 billion agreement resolving approximately 75% of the 125,000 filed and unfiled claims against Monsanto. The agreement includes $1.25 billion set aside for a class action lawsuit being filed on behalf of Roundup users who may develop health problems in the future. However, the judge charged with approving the agreement expressed serious concerns regarding its terms. Get more details on the $10B Roundup settlement agreement.

    It's unclear how Bayer and the plaintiffs intend to proceed. However, any revised agreement will likely apply to future litigants, so if you've been injured by Roundup and want to ensure that your rights are protected, it might make sense to talk with a lawyer about your situation. Get tips on finding a lawyer for a Roundup lawsuit.

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