Litigation over Roundup — the main ingredient of which, glyphosate, likely causes cancer — has had a long tail. And the latest lawsuit involving the once ubiquitous household weed killer dropped Thursday.
In 2020, Bayer announced a $10 billion settlement over claims Roundup caused cancer. One claimant was a farmworker in Virginia, according to the lawsuit filed by Public Citizen, a nonprofit organization focused on corporate and government accountability. She said she was exposed while working for years with the weed killer on tree farms.
Originally, she was given the chance to settle using the same program that many plaintiffs used to receive payments from Bayer, but she was then rebuffed, according to the lawsuit. Because she was not a U.S. citizen, like many farmworkers, she did not qualify, according to the lawsuit.
Seven months after signing onto the settlement program, she was dropped by her lawyers and was ineligible for a settlement, according to the lawsuit.
Public Citizen said her civil rights have been violated because she was deemed not eligible because of her citizenship status.
“Those harmed by unlawful conduct are entitled to compensation no matter their immigration status,” Michael Kirkpatrick, an attorney with Public Citizen Litigation Group, said in a press release. “This lawsuit calls out discrimination by both Monsanto and some trial lawyers and will help put an end to such practices.”
Bayer said the lawsuit had “no merit.”
The farmworker’s “own former legal counsel agreed to the terms of the settlement agreement which included proper venue and state law considerations with respect to foreign litigants,” spokesperson Susan Luke said in a statement. “(She) later voluntarily dismissed her case and refiled her personal injury claim, as she was entitled to do under the settlement agreement, in July 2022 in the Missouri Circuit Court for St. Louis County where it is currently pending. The treatment is no different than any other plaintiff who did not meet the terms of their settlement agreement. Bayer believes strongly in an inclusive, equitable and diverse culture and has no tolerance for racism or discrimination of any kind.”
There have been years of litigation related to Roundup. It was originally produced by Monsanto but is now produced by Bayer after the German pharmaceutical company bought Monsanto in 2018.
In 2020, Black farmers sued Bayer over Roundup, alleging Monsanto and then Bayer did not adequately warn farmers about the risk of its weed killer.
Roundup isn’t the only product from Monsanto over which Bayer has faced litigation.
Farmers have spent years criticizing the herbicide dicamba for “drifting” over from where it was sprayed and killing crops that were not resistant to the herbicide. The herbicide was intended to be used on crops that Monsanto had produced the seeds for.
Despite knowing dicamba would cause widespread damage, Monsanto decided to release the product anyway, Investigate Midwest reported in 2020.
UPDATE: This story has been updated to include a statement from Bayer about the case.
Top photo: An Illinois Monsanto facility on May 19, 2015.