Law360, New York (September 23, 2015, 7:13 PM ET) — A former California field worker has slapped Monsanto with a lawsuit in federal court, claiming the primary active ingredient in Roundup weed killer and known carcinogen, glyphosate, caused her to develop bone cancer over years of exposure.
A suit claims Monsanto’s popular Roundup herbicide caused a 38-year-old to develio bone cancer. (Credit: AP) Enrique Rubio, who gathered vegetables in California, Oregon and Texas from 1986 to 1995 and sprayed them with Roundup and other chemicals, says repeated exposure to Missouri-based Monsanto’s most popular herbicide led her to develop bone cancer in 1995 at 38 years old, according to Tuesday’s complaint.
During her time as a field worker, Rubio said she drove a tractor and used a hand pump to spray crops with the herbicide, often at a rate of two days per week year-round, with nothing more than a paper face mask to protect her from the chemicals.
Considering Monsanto’s “prolonged campaign of misinformation” claiming Roundup is safe for animals, humans and the environment, Rubio’s lawyers said her condition is a result of the company’s willful and negligent actions and that there was no way she could have “reasonably discovered” the health risk Roundup presented.
“Agricultural workers are, once again, victims of corporate greed,” the complaint said. “Monsanto assured the public that Roundup was harmless. In order to prove this, Monsanto championed falsified data and attacked legitimate studies that revealed its dangers.”
The complaint claims the Environmental Protection found that two laboratories hired by Monsanto to purportedly test the toxicity of its Roundup products for federal registration regularly falsified testing data, but in spite of this, the company was allowed to market the herbicide in 115 countries, including the United States.
Since the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer released a study earlier this year designating glyphosate as an herbicide “probably carcinogenic to humans,” Rubio’s lawyers said Monsanto can no longer deny the health effects of Roundup.
Due to IARC’s findings, the California Environmental Protection Agency announced in early September that it would officially list glyphosate as a known carcinogen under the state’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986.
“For nearly 40 years, farms across the world have used Roundup without knowing of the dangers its use poses … because when Monsanto first introduced Roundup, it touted glyphosate as a technological breakthrough: it could kill almost every weed without causing harm either to people or to the environment,” the complaint said. “Of course, history has shown that not to be true.”
Rubio’s lawyers claim that Monsanto has known from the outset that Roundup is harmful to humans and the environment, but continues to claim “particularly to United States consumers” that glyphosate-based herbicides pose no unreasonable risk.
The suit is accusing Monsanto of strict liability over a known design defect that could have been made less harmful and of failure to warn consumers of the full hazards in dealing with Roundup, along with willful negligence and breach of implied warranty.
Due to Monsanto’s production and promotion of Roundup, the suit claims Rubio “has suffered and continues to suffer grave injuries” including economic hardship and considerable expenditures on medical treatment that will only continue.
Since being diagnosed in 1995, Rubio became disabled and is unable to work, according to the complaint.
Monsanto intends to “vigorously” defend itself in the case and believes “glyphosate is safe for human health when used as labeled,” company representative Charla Lord said Wednesday
“Decades of experience within agriculture and regulatory reviews using the most extensive worldwide human health databases ever compiled on an agricultural product contradict the claims in the suit,” Lord said.
Rubio is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages and payment of legal costs, according to the complaint.
Rubio is represented by Christopher B. Dalbey, Robin L. Greenwald and Maja Lukic of Weitz & Luxenberg PC and Hunter W. Lundy, Matthew E. Lundy and Kristie M. Hightower of Lundy Lundy Soileau & South LLP.
The case is Rubio v. Monsanto Company, case number 2:15-cv-07426, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.