Is it Too Late to File a Round-Up Lawsuit in Washington, D.C.?
Roundup litigation has received a lot of attention lately. In 2015, it was reported that a major ingredient in Round-Up may cause cancer. Plaintiffs and lawyers have been headed to the courthouse ever since.
Glyphosate is a key ingredient in Monsanto’s product Roundup. It was identified as a carcinogen in a report released by the World Health Organization in 2015. It was also determined that Monsanto, the company who makes Roundup, knew about this danger.
Rather than warning their customers that their product was dangerous, Monsanto chose to say nothing. This happens a lot in product liability cases. These cases put a large burden on the plaintiffs to prove their injuries were caused by the defendant’s product.
What are the Elements of a Mass Tort Case in Washington, D.C.?
Mass tort cases are a specialty kind of case. These cases are very complicated. But the bottom line is the same: you must demonstrate that the defendant’s product caused your injuries. When dealing with a Monsanto Roundup case, you have to prove a few things:
- You were injured
- Your injuries were caused by the defendant’s actions
- The defendant’s actions were negligent or unreasonable
Let’s consider a typical Roundup case. The plaintiffs argue that Roundup caused their cancer. If we look at this from a common-sense standpoint, it seems simple.
- The plaintiff has cancer
- Something had to cause their cancer
- The defendant’s product arguably contains cancer-causing agents
- The plaintiff used the defendant’s product for a long period of time
- The defendant didn’t warn the plaintiff that their product was dangerous
- The defendant knew (or should have known) that their product was dangerous
- There’s no other obvious cause for the plaintiff’s cancer
All of this makes perfect sense, right? Well, it’s never this clear cut when you go to court. The reason a lot of these cases are going to trial is because there is evidence favoring both the defendant and the plaintiffs.
How Does Your Washington D.C. Lawyer Prove Causation in a Roundup Case?
Just because you can demonstrate that Monsanto’s product contains a cancer-causing agent, you still have to prove that the product caused your cancer.
Just because you got sick, it doesn’t mean your cancer was caused by Roundup. There are lots of things that could’ve led to your contracting cancer. Some of these things include:
- They were a smoker
- They worked in a field that was rampant with toxins
- They lived in a house with asbestos in it
- They have a family history of cancer
- They were exposed to other harmful chemicals over their lifetime
The defendant is going to insist that one of these other things caused your client’s cancer. And, it may not be that hard to convince a jury of this. In reality, the jury may only be 15-20% confident that the defendant caused your client’s illness. If this is the case, what is the chance that the jury is going to find in favor of your client?
Can You Demand Punitive Damages in Round Up Cases?
In a mass tort case such as Round Up, a large part of your damages will be made up of pain and suffering. Some of the damages your attorney will demand include:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
Unlike some other cases, mass tort cases usually involve something called punitive damages. Punitive damages are just what they sound like. They are intended to punish the defendant for behaving in a manner that was reckless or intentional.
In the Monsanto Roundup cases, the fact that the manufacturer knew their product was dangerous is an issue. They were aware of the product and chose not to warn their customers. There are internal documents to prove this. Therefore, a lot of people think they deserve to be punished.
For the most part, juries and even the public agree that Monsanto should be punished for their behavior. The question is – how much is too much? What is a fair amount for punitive damages?
In one of the major cases, Dewayne Johnson v Monsanto, the jury awarded the plaintiff $39 million in actual damages. They also awarded him an additional $250 million in punitive damages!
The defendant appealed the decision. But they didn’t appeal the whole decision. They only appealed the amount awarded for punitive damages. They have asked the court to reduce this amount. In fact, they asked that it be reduced to zero.
The judge offered the plaintiff two options: he could accept the $39 million as a total settlement or he could agree to a new trial. The new trial would only address the issue of punitive damages.
This proves that the future of Round-up lawsuits is unclear. In the Johnson case, the Judge actually asked the plaintiff to forfeit the entire punitive damages award. If he agreed to settle for $39 million, Johnson would get his money right away. However, he would not be able to go after them for punitive damages. Because he wasn’t expected to live more than another year or two, he was probably enticed to accept.
Contact a Washington, D.C. Mass Tort Lawyer Today
If you have been injured from using Round-Up, you need to contact a mass tort lawyer in Washington, D.C. right away. The Johnson case teaches us that the courts, going forward, will probably limit the number of punitive damages allowed in these cases. Defense lawyer knows this. Hopefully, this will lead to more out of court settlement in the future.
Part of what defense lawyers do is help their clients mitigate their damages. If they can somehow convince the courts and juries to limit the number of punitive damages assessed against Monsanto, the entire future of the Roundup litigation could be in question. As the cases build up, the well is going to start to run dry. This makes it even more crucial that you call a Washington, D.C. mass tort lawyer today.