After the suspension of in-person proceedings due to concerns over the delta variant of the coronavirus, the trial of Donnetta Stephens v. Monsanto resumed earlier this week via Zoom but was plagued by several technical problems, U.S. Right To Know reported.
Stephens’ case is the fourth Roundup cancer suit to go to trial in the U.S. One of at least 125,000 individuals to sue Monsanto over claims that the company’s glyphosate-based herbicide line of products—now owned by Bayer AG—caused them to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Stephens is elderly and suffering from numerous debilitating conditions.
In December, Stephens’ case was expedited due to her failing health. The trial, held in the Superior Court of San Bernardino County in California court, witnessed several glitches, including a court reporter being unable to hear an exchange between a lawyer and witness; poor audio; and the inability of jurors to turn on their webcams, a requirement issued by Judge Gilbert Ochoa.
Veteran environmental journalist Carey Gillam, writing in her blog for US Right To Know, said that due to the technical difficulties, Stephens’ lawyers were forced to abbreviate the testimony of plaintiff’s expert witness, Charles Benbrook, a former research professor and former executive director of the National Academy of Sciences board on agriculture.
Benbrook is supposed to testify on Monsanto’s biased scientific submissions to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that created a climate of agency capture.
Stephens’ case is the first Roundup trial since 2019. Juries in all previous three trials have found in favor of plaintiffs, agreeing with their claims that long-term exposure to Roundup caused them to develop NHL and that Monsanto spent decades covering up the risks and failed to warn users.
Compensatory awards of $289 million, $2.1 billion and $75 million were granted to the plaintiffs, respectively. All three awards were later substantially reduced by appellate judges.
The first three Roundup trials in the US were held prior to the pandemic and involved several weeks of highly-technical testimony. Stephens’ case in a virtual format has thus far made it challenging for jurors to hear all the nuanced testimony of experts.
Boy With NHL Next Roundup Trial Plaintiff
Another Roundup trial is slated for Sept. 13. Ezra Clark, a boy who was just four years old when he was diagnosed with NHL in 2016, is one of 30,000 unresolved Roundup suits. In June 2020, Bayer settled approximately 95,000 Roundup lawsuits for nearly $11 billion. But many plaintiff’s attorneys refused to join the settlement class.
Clark’s mother is the named plaintiff in the trial, which will be held in Los Angeles County Superior Court. Ezra frequently accompanied his mother while she applied Roundup to kill weeds around the family’s property. According to court filings, Ezra frequently played in freshly-sprayed areas.
The overwhelming majority of individuals who have filed Roundup lawsuits have been recreational gardeners rather than heavy agricultural users. Recently, Bayer announced it would stop selling glyphosate-based herbicides for recreational gardeners; the company makes most of its money selling glyphosate for agricultural uses.