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Supreme Court asks for DOJ’s view in cancer patient’s dispute with Monsanto

The U.S. Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Department of Justice to provide its view of a dispute between Monsanto, the company behind the herbicide Roundup, and a California man who successfully sued the agrochemical giant for causing his cancer.

Monsanto, which was acquired by Bayer in 2018, is seeking to appeal a $25 million ruling that found the company liable for causing plaintiff Edwin Hardeman to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma through exposure to Roundup.

The court’s unsigned request Monday for a brief by the U.S. solicitor general is a signal of at least some of the justices’ interest in the underlying dispute; four or more must agree to review the case.

Monsanto’s petition for appeal comes after a San Francisco-based federal appeals court in May affirmed a trial court verdict that found the company failed to adequately warn consumers about the cancer risk associated with its glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup.

In its ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit noted that the case, which applied California state law in federal court, is a “bellwether” that could lead to “potentially thousands of federal cases to follow.”

Monsanto is asking the justices to find that California’s failure-to-warn law is superseded by a determination from the Environmental Protection Agency of its product’s safety. The company also claims that expert testimony offered at trial linking Roundup to Hardeman’s cancer should have been excluded.

A spokesperson for Bayer said the company was “encouraged” by the court’s call for the solicitor general to weigh in. 

“The U.S. expert agency, the Environmental Protection Agency, has consistently found that glyphosate-based herbicides can be used safely and are not carcinogenic, and has stated that a cancer warning would be false and misleading and misbrand the product,” a company spokesperson told The Hill in a statement. 

Hardeman has asked the justices to reject Monsanto’s appeal. His lawyer did not immediately respond to a request Monday for comment on the new development.

Updated at 11:50 a.m.

Tags California Cancer Monsanto Roundup Supreme Court

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