Judge Vince Chhabria recently rendered a ruling on the admissibility of expert witnesses in the products liability cases against Monsanto, the makers of Roundup®, which the plaintiffs claim can cause non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The lawsuits allege that glyphosate, the herbicide in Roundup, can cause non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and that Monsanto failed to warn consumers or regulators about the alleged risk.
Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup, an herbicide manufactured by Monsanto. Roundup became commercially available in 1974, and glyphosate-based herbicides are now widely used across the U.S. and throughout the world, on large-scale farms and in residential backyards. The EPA doesn’t currently consider glyphosate likely to cause cancer.
The question before Judge Chhabria at this initial phase of the proceedings was that of general causation—whether a reasonable jury could conclude that glyphosate, a commonly used herbicide, can cause non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at exposure levels people realistically may have experienced. If yes, the action can proceed to the next phase, whether each particular plaintiff’s Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma was caused by the glyphosate in the Monsanto herbicide. If the answer is no, the plaintiffs’ cases cannot go forward. Further, the answer must be no unless the plaintiffs can present at least one reliable expert opinion in support of their contention.