For the first time, Hugh Grant, who headed Monsanto from 2003 until the company was purchased by Bayer in 2018 for $63 billion, will testify in a Roundup cancer trial. Attorneys for Grant unsuccessfully appealed a judge’s order that Grant testify in the trial of Allan Shelton, a plaintiff who suffers from non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) and alleges that exposure to Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer, and other company herbicide brands made with glyphosate, caused him to develop NHL.
Opening arguments in Shelton v. Monsanto kicked off May 3 in Missouri District Court for the 16th Judicial District in Kansas City. This marks the sixth Roundup cancer trial and the first one to be tried in a courtroom outside of California.
Last month, a Roundup trial slated to begin in St. Louis was removed from the docket after a last-minute undisclosed settlement between Bayer and the plaintiff was reached.
Attorneys for Shelton allege that Grant, during his 15-year helm, played a crucial role in the marketing and distribution decision-making process at Monsanto and was aware of the potential risks of glyphosate to consumers.
Legal counsel for Bayer countered that Grant should not have to testify because he gave a five-hour virtual deposition that can be applied to all Roundup litigation.
Bayer lost the first three Roundup trials, in which three plaintiffs were awarded an average of nearly $50 million in damages. Juries found that Bayer was not liable for plaintiff’s injuries in the two most recent trials.
Despite resolving approximately 100,000 Roundup claims for $11 billion, Bayer still faces 30,000 suits filed by plaintiffs who refused to join the settlement class. The company is waiting to hear from the U.S. Supreme Court on whether it will review one of the three consumer trial wins, a $25 million award for plaintiff Edwin Hardeman.
In March, Bayer also petitioned the nation’s high court to review a $87 million Roundup cancer claim for California couple, Alva and Alberta Pilliod.
Bayer has allocated an additional $4.5 billion for Roundup litigation in the event the Supreme Court declines to hear the Hardeman or Pilliod cases. Should the Court decide to review either or both cases, Bayer will argue that federal laws that regulate how herbicides are marketed trump state law. California’s Prop 65 requires that manufacturers place warning labels on products that contain chemicals deemed to pose a cancer risk to humans.
In 2015, the World Health Organization’s main cancer research agency declared glyphosate to be a probable human carcinogen.
Bayer will pull glyphosate-based Roundup products sometime next year and will replace glyphosate with another hitherto unnamed chemical.