LAPLACE, LA, La. (WGNO) – Charlotte Dale saw a friend who was shopping last fall, with a spray bottle of Roundup weed killer in her basket.
“I begged her not to buy it,” says Dale, “because I knew what it can cause. It caused my husband’s death.”
Dale is one of more than 100,000 people in the United States who have been suing Bayer, the recent buyer of the Monsanto company, because of claims against Monsanto’s product, Roundup. The plaintiffs claim that the main ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, causes a particularly fatal type of cancer: non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
After fighting and losing several multi-million dollar claims for damages brought by plaintiffs in California last year, Bayer decided to settle the rest of the claims in a lump sum to be dispersed among the plaintiffs. The settlement– 10.9 billion dollars– was announced to Bayer shareholders June 24.
Charlotte Dale’s husband, Will, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma and died a year ago in May.
Harold Chouest of New Orleans also developed non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and he’s being treated with chemotherapy.
Both men used Roundup to kill weeds. Dale used an industrial sprayer to spread it on the weeds around his employer’s property. Chouest used it to kill weeds around his home.
Charlotte Dale and Harold Chouest are among more than 1,000 plaintiffs in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama represented by New Orleans attorney Morris Bart.
“It’s been a 5 year battle,” says Bart, reached at his law firm the day of the announcement, “a very contentious battle.”
Although the amount of money which Bart’s clients will receive has not been calculated, Bart say the payments will likely be made early next near. He calls the settlement “a huge win” but with a caveat.
“Ultimately as lawyers,” says Bart, “our job is to get compensation for our clients and affect social change.” Bart calls the settlement “good and fair” but he says the terms agreed to by Bayer will not affect social change in the way that he and his plaintiffs had hoped it would.
The settlement does not require Bayer to admit that Roundup causes cancer, and Roundup will not be required to carry a warning label about the cancer risk.
“It’s status quo (for Bayer),” says Bart. “They’re not giving an inch.”
However, Bart notes that of the 10.9 billion dollar settlement, 1.2 billion dollars is set aside to pay for potential future Roundup lawsuits– an indication to Bart that Bayer “is expecting more cases of non-Hodgkins lymphona.”
You can see Charlotte Dale’s and Harold Chouest’s personal stories in our report above.