A jury in the United States found in favour of a Californian couple this month in relation to their legal claim against Bayer which alleged that the weed killing product Roundup had caused them both to suffer cancer. The judgment includes very substantial damages running to millions of dollars. The couple alleged that domestic use of the product at their home between 1975 and 2011 has caused them both to suffer the same form of cancer and had there been warnings on the product they would not have used it. This is the third such award in California.
The second successful law suit in the USA had also found German chemical giant liable to pay a Californian man, a groundsman, potentially millions of dollars in damages after a jury felt there was a link between the claimant’s lymphoma type cancer and use of glyphosate based week killer. This follows an earlier judgment in favour of another Californian man for $289m dollars reduced to $78m on appeal. There are over 13,000 pending actions in the US.
Glyphosate was introduced in 1974 by the global chemical corporation Monsanto, who were to be taken over by Bayer in later years. Trade protection on the product lapsed in 2000 and glyphosate is a common component of over the counter garden weed killers. Bayer strongly refutes any link between the product and the risk of a person developing cancer.
In 2015 the World Health Organisation’s cancer team, the International Agency for Research on Cancer concluded that glyphosate was “probably carcinogenic to humans”. The US Environmental Protection Agency has declared the product safe and its EU equivalent, European Food Standards Agency, gave similar advice. This advice, however, relates to the use of the chemical on grown foods and not direct contact.
The use of glyphosate based weed killers may raise issues in the context of Employers’ Liability among those industry sectors where there is regular use of weed killers. This would include groundsman, greenkeepers, care takers and parks and street works staff. As an irritant, and potentially toxic substance irrespective of carcinogenic properties, employers are advised to follow strict procedures for the wearing of PPE to include suits, gloves, masks, goggles and substance specific respirator.
If you would like to know more about this matter, please speak to your contact at Plexus:
Dominic Collingwood, Associate
T: 0113 468 1752 | M: 07785 617 972 | E: firstname.lastname@example.org