CVN screenshot of plaintiff attorney Gibbs Henderson delivering his opening statement
Clayton, MO - A Missouri state court jury heard opening statements Wednesday in the first trial involving multiple plaintiffs over allegations that Bayer-owned Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide causes cancer, and the proceedings are being webcast gavel-to-gavel by Courtroom View Network.
The trial is also the first Roundup case to go before a jury in St. Louis County, just miles from where Monsanto had its headquarters for decades. Numerous additional Roundup trials are scheduled in the St. Louis area through the end of 2023, so the day-to-day developments of the current trial are being carefully tracked by both plaintiff and defense attorneys.
During Wednesday’s opening statements, plaintiff attorney Gibbs Henderson of the Texas-based Nachawati Law Firm told jurors that years of exposure to glyphosate, a chemical used in popular weedkillers like Roundup, caused the three plaintiffs in the case to develop various forms of lymphoma.
The plaintiffs, a woman and two men in their 60’s and 70’s, all claim their glyphosate exposure occurred while spraying weeds in their yards. Henderson argued Monsanto had internal knowledge about glyphosate’s supposed carcinogenic properties, but withheld that information from the public to protect sales of a popular brand. He cited internal emails from company executives discussing ways to push back on numerous scientific studies purportedly showing a link between glyphosate and lymphoma.
Representing Monsanto, Manuel Cachan of Proskauer Rose argued to jurors that nearly 95 percent of lymphoma occurs because of natural errors resulting from human cell division and not from an external environmental factor. He cited a 591 percent increase in Roundup use from 1995 to 2014 without a corresponding spike in lymphoma cases in the general public.
CVN screenshot of defense attorney Manuel Cachan delivering his opening statement
Cachan also told the jury Monsanto would present expert testimony revealing the studies relied on by the plaintiffs for allegedly linking glyphosate exposure to lymphoma as being scientifically unsound.
Besides being the first multi-plaintiff Roundup trial and the first in the St. Louis area, the current trial is also the first since the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Monsanto’s attempts to scuttle Roundup lawsuits in state courts nationwide on federal preemption grounds.
That appeal was based around two plaintiff verdicts in Roundup trials in California state court. While initial Roundup trials resulted in headline-grabbing multi-billion dollar verdicts, Monsanto has more recently notched additional defense wins including two trials earlier this year in Kansas City, Missouri and in Oregon.
The current trial is also the first time the news media has been permitted to film the full gavel-to-gavel proceedings in a Roundup trial. Monsanto sought to exclude the news media from nearly every Roundup trial to date, but their objections to coverage of the current trial were rejected by Circuit Judge Brian May.
Witness testimony in the case began Thursday morning, and the trial is expected to take roughly six weeks to complete. CVN’s camera will remain present for the duration of the proceedings, and gavel-to-gavel video of the trial will be available both live and on-demand.
The current case is captioned Carl Alesi, et al. v. Monsanto Company, case number 19SL-CC03617 in St. Louis County Circuit Court, Missouri.
E-mail David Siegel at firstname.lastname@example.org