Federal lawsuit against St. Louis-based Bayer-Monsanto aims for injunction against glyphosate sales due to cancer risk.
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(ST. LOUIS, MO) August 31, 2020 – St. Louis-based OnderLaw has joined nationally renowned civil rights and personal injury attorney Ben Crump and the National Black Farmers Association (NBFA) in support of an action filed August 26, 2020 in U.S. District Court Eastern District of Missouri to prohibit Bayer-Monsanto from continuing to profit from the sale of glyphosate-based Roundup herbicide. Plaintiffs allege that the chemical, which has been banned in Bayer’s home country, Germany, among dozens of other countries worldwide, affects a disproportionate number of Black farmers.
“Roundup-Monsanto’s plot to force farmers to rely on Roundup is one of the most cynical and destructive business plans in the history of our nation,” OnderLaw attorney Jim Onder says. “Because of economic and educational disparities, Black farmers have been disproportionately trapped into using this dangerous product and they are paying for it with their economic freedom, their health, and in some cases, their lives.”
The claim, Case 4:20-cv-01145-NAB, was filed on behalf of NBFA. It alleges “scientific fraud underlying the marketing and sale of glyphosate/Roundup,” saying, “… Monsanto championed falsified data and attacked legitimate studies that revealed Roundup’s dangers. Monsanto led a prolonged campaign of misinformation to convince government agencies, farmers, and the general public that Roundup was safe.”
Included in the claim are allegations that Monsanto influenced the EPA to allow glyphosate on the market despite its dangers. Executives from two separate laboratories hired to conduct studies were convicted of fraud for falsifying data regarding pesticides and herbicides. Those studies were used to obtain Roundup’s registration with the EPA.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has determined that active ingredient glyphosate is a likely carcinogen. In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) also found an increased risk, linking glyphosate and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. IARC also found that glyphosate causes DNA and chromosomal damage in human cells, a precursor for cancer.
NBFA asserts that Black farmers have been disproportionately affected by negative financial and health risks of Roundup and have “suffered and continue to suffer grave injuries … as well as economic hardship, including considerable financial expenses for medical care and treatment.”
The suit alleges that Roundup has created a monopoly on herbicides and seed sales, forcing farmers to buy Roundup-ready seeds resistant to the chemical. Because weeds are increasingly resistant to Roundup, farmers are applying larger and more dangerous amounts of the chemical, and are now having to add additional chemicals, also sold by Bayer-Monsanto, in order for their weed control to remain effective.
Bayer-Monsanto does not include cancer risks on Roundup product labels in the United States. NBFA founder John Boyd says Bayer-Monsanto has never attended conferences or seminars held by its members, and has not reached out to the Black community to discuss safety measures needed to reduce risks.
“The harms caused by Roundup are felt acutely by NBFA’s members: largely rural Black farmers who frequently have limited internet connectivity and/or literacy, and are dependent on their local feed stores for product information,” the claim reads, adding that Black farmers are “utterly unaware of the dangers.”
Onder joined civil rights attorney Ben Crump, representatives of NAACP, Urban League, NBFA, and local community activists for a news conference August 26, 2020 at Bayer-Monsanto’s St. Louis headquarters to announce the filing.
“For more than a century, Black farmers have fought an uphill battle for equality, facing plummeting crop prices, parasitic corporations, racist lenders, and discrimination in the market.
Bayer-Monsanto has been one of the worst offenders of questionable practices, forcing Black farmers to buy Roundup-resistant seeds and into reliance on deadly Roundup weedkiller while they claw the dirt to keep from going under,” Onder said during the press conference.
“Abraham Lincoln may have signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, but Black American farmers are still not free,” said Crump. “They live in bondage to Bayer Corporation and its subsidiary Monsanto, the creator and marketer of the deadly weedkiller Roundup, enslaved by their Roundup-resistant seeds.”
“Bayer-Monsanto has gotten fat off the profits of Roundup while farmers who work the land to feed their families are dying,” Onder added. “Every day I talk to farmers who have been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a deadly cancer caused by glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup. Their hair is falling out from chemotherapy, they’re losing their livelihoods, and they are losing their lives — all because of Bayer-Monsanto’s greed.”
The group told reporters that forcing Bayer-Monsanto to remove Roundup and glyphosate from the market is the first step in repairing the damage done to Black farmers, to the environment, and to all farmers and landscape workers who have been placed at risk.
“We are at a tipping point in our country,” Crump says. “Americans are demanding racial justice, whether in our policing and our criminal justice system or in the value placed on Black and Hispanic lives by corporations that profit while harming them. This is a time when Americans are demanding justice and change.”
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OnderLaw Attorney James Onder Calls Settlement “A Slap in the Face to Victims,” Continues to Prepare for Trial
(ST. LOUIS, MO) June 24, 2020 – Though Bayer is representing it has agreed to settle with approximately 95,000 plaintiffs in claims that Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller caused non-Hodgkin lymphoma, St. Louis attorney James Onder says he will not back down in his fight against the corporate giant.
“There are still over 30,000 unsettled cases, of which our firm represents over 24,000,” said Onder Wednesday, June 24, the day the settlement was announced. “The unsettled legal exposure to Bayer could easily exceed tens of billions of dollars, as our firm and others have rejected the miniscule offers accepted by some other firms.”
The reported $8.8 to $9.6 billion settlement proposed by Bayer, which purchased St. Louis-based Monsanto for $63 billion in 2018, would leave many plaintiffs with only $5,000 to $10,000 in compensation for cancers caused by glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup. “Our trial teams will continue holding Bayer accountable in Roundup trials nationwide until such time as Bayer offers compensation consistent with the injuries our clients have suffered,” said Onder.
The settlement resulted after Bayer lost all three bellwether trials in mass tort litigation. In 2018, a California jury awarded Dewayne Johnson, a school groundskeeper, $289 million after concluding Monsanto failed to warn him and other consumers of the risks of using glyphosate. In March 2019, a federal court jury in California awarded Edwin Hardeman, a homeowner who used Roundup on his lawn for years, $80 million. Two months later, another California jury awarded Alva and Alberta Pilliod more than $2 billion after deciding Monsanto’s Roundup was responsible for causing the couple’s cancer after they used it on their property for decades.
According to Onder, Bayer has been under considerable pressure from disenchanted shareholders to settle the cases following the losses, and today’s announcement encompasses premature celebration on the part of the corporation. “To act as if one quarter of the Roundup cancer victims don’t exist is a flagrant attempt by Bayer to manipulate its stock price, and serves as a slap in the face to the many cancer victims whose lives have been destroyed,” said Onder.
Under the settlement rejected by Onder and several other attorneys, Bayer would continue to sell glyphosate in the United States, and the company would not be required to add a warning to Roundup labels.
“That’s not how we work,” said Onder. “As attorneys representing tens of thousands of clients, we see the damage this chemical has done to people’s lives. We listen to hard-working Americans when they tell us they’ve lost everything they own because they’re faced with medical bills and an inability to work due to the pain and treatments they’re undergoing. We listen to family members who have lost loved ones in the most painful and preventable way possible. We’ll continue to fight for justice for them, and to change the way Bayer does business so that more innocent people don’t have to suffer. Our firm has done it with other industries in the past, and we plan to do it again.”
The fact that hundreds of thousands of people have developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma after long-term use of Roundup is backed by the World Health Organization, which found glyphosate to be a probable cause of cancer. The chemical has been banned in dozens of countries worldwide, as well as many United States municipalities. Still, it continues to be used in most parts of the U.S.
Jim Onder is the senior member and founder of OnderLaw . Since founding the firm in August of 2002, Jim has distinguished himself and compiled an impressive record of success, working with his partners to collect over $3.5 billion on behalf of those he’s represented.
Jim is a 1985 graduate of Washington University School of Business Administration, where he was a member of the Beta Gamma Sigma honor society and a recipient of the McWilliams Writing Award. He completed his education at St. Louis University School of Law in 1988, where he graduated with honors. He is a member of the Order of the Woolsack, awarded to the top 10% of the law school class. While at St. Louis University, Jim was on both St. Louis University’s Law Journal and Public Law Review.
Jim is widely recognized as the national advocate and authority on mini-blind and window covering safety, as well as in mass tort litigations against some of the country’s largest corporations, including Monsanto and Johnson & Johnson. While licensed to practice in Missouri and Illinois, firms throughout the country seek out Jim’s particular expertise in the field of product liability. He is on the Board of Governors for the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys and is involved in voluminous political and community activities.
OnderLaw is located at 110 E. Lockwood, St. Louis, MO 63119.