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Bayer Faces Lawsuit From Missouri Buyers Of Roundup

Monsanto's widely used weed killer Roundup on a shelf in Home Depot.
File photo | Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio
Bayer's widely used weed killer Roundup on a shelf in Home Depot.

Updated at 1 p.m., June 25 with comments from Bayer — Two Missouri law firms have filed a potential class-action lawsuit against Bayer, alleging the company violated state law in not disclosing the health risks associated with the weed killer Roundup. 

The lawsuit is different from others because it seeks purchase refunds, not compensation for personal injury.

A California couple who were landscapers won a $2 billion judgment from Bayer in May after claiming Roundup gave them cancer. Bayer—which bought Monsanto, the maker of Roundup, last year—is appealing that ruling. Other suits are pending.

Don Downing, a lawyer with the St. Louis firm Gray, Ritter & Graham, said the Missouri case is different.

“Specifically excluded from our class are people who have claims for personal injury, meaning cancer,” Downing said. “This is an economic-loss class only."

The lawsuit was filed under the Missouri Merchandising Act, which is designed to protect consumers against fraud.

People seeking compensation because they believe Roundup caused them health problems would have to sue separately.

If the class action is certified and is successful, it could allow Roundup customers in Missouri—homeowners who use a little around their yard as well as farmers who use it on hundreds of acres—to receive a refund for their purchases.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified punitive damages. 

Bayer wrote in a statement Tuesday that the company will “vigorously defend” their glyphosate-based products, including Roundup.
 
“This complaint has no merit as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has considered and approved the labels for our glyphosate-based herbicides based on their expert assessment of the extensive body of research and their conclusions that these herbicides can be used safely and that glyphosate is not carcinogenic,” the company wrote.
 
Downing said that in addition to refunding money, he wants the company to be more direct with information to protect consumers:

“We definitely are hoping to send a message to Monsanto and other companies that produce dangerous products that they need to disclose the risks of those products.” 

Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @JonathanAhl

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