As the latest Roundup cancer trial enters its fifth week today, lawyers for the married couple of Alva and Alberta Pilliod were nearing the end of the direct presentation of their case, which is being tried in Alameda County Superior Court in Oakland, California. Both Pilliods developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma they allege was caused by their extended use of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide.
Expert witness Chadi Nabhan, a hematologist and medical oncologist who is chief medical officer for Cardinal Health in Chicago, is expected to take the stand Monday with testimony that should extend into Tuesday. Plaintiffs’ attorneys have additional testimony to present to jurors via video-recorded depositions before resting their case by Wednesday. Lawyers for Monsanto are expected to offer their own witnesses by video on Thursday with live witness testimony for the company’s defense starting next week. Closing arguments are expected by May 6.
Last Thursday, jurors heard emotional testimony from Alva and Alberta about how cancer has changed their lives. Alva was diagnosed in 2011 and has been through multiple rounds of treatment while Alberta Pilliod has been hospitalized repeatedly since her diagnosis in 2015. The Pilliods used Roundup regularly from the mid -1970s until only a few years ago on multiple properties they owned. The couple said they chose Roundup because they believed it was safe for them and for the wildlife on their properties.
Neither wore protective clothing, they testified, because they believed advertisements promoting the safety of the herbicide.
Here is a bit of an exchange between lawyer Mike Miller and plaintiff Alberta Pilliod:
Miller: So did you read the Roundup label?
Miller: Did the Roundup label tell you you couldn’t wear shorts?
Miller: Did the Roundup label tell you you couldn’t wear flip-flops?
Miller: Did the Roundup label tell you to wear gloves?
Miller: Did it tell you to wear a mask?
Miller: Did it have any warning on it about the risk of cancer?
Miller: Alberta, if Monsanto would have warned that there’s a risk of cancer with Roundup, would you have used it?
Miller: If anybody had told you there was carcinogenicity studies that showed an association with
non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and Roundup, would you have used Roundup?
Pilliod: No. I thought it was really safe to use. I told my husband it was like sugar water.
Miller: Why did you believe Roundup to be so safe?
Pilliod: Because of the ads. The ads made me feel that it was very safe.
The Pilliod case is the third trial pitting cancer victims against Monsanto and its new owner Bayer AG. Monsanto lost both the prior trials and is facing more than $150 million in damage awards from the combined verdicts. Another 11,000 plaintiffs have claims pending. All the cases allege Monsanto’s glyphosate-based weed killers cause cancer and that Monsanto spent decades covering up the risks.