July 23, 2019 Articles

Are Public Health Agency Positions on Pathogenicity Relevant in Toxic Tort Litigation?

Appellate review of the recent Roundup verdicts will be an opportunity for California appellate courts to address the relevance and admissibility of such opinions by IARC.

By W. Clay Massey

The Monsanto Roundup litigation has brought renewed attention to the use and admissibility of statements by government agencies and nongovernmental organizations on a substance’s pathogenicity at trial. The plaintiffs have used the position of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) that glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup) is “probably carcinogenic to humans” as key evidence of Roundup’s alleged causal connection to the plaintiffs’ non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (IARC Monograph on Glyphosate). This evidence has helped the plaintiffs obtain multiple exorbitant verdicts in California, the latest exceeding $2 billion.

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