Quebec woman seeks class action lawsuit over Roundup cancer claim

A woman from L’Assomption is asking a Quebec court to authorize a $10-million class-action lawsuit against Monsanto and Bayer over the herbicide Roundup, the first such effort in the province.

This is the second class action filed in Canada in just over a week against Roundup, Canada’s top selling herbicide. The first was filed in Saskatchewan on May 15. Monsanto and Bayer also face over 13,400 lawsuits in the U.S. alone.

The application was submitted in Quebec Superior Court on behalf of Liliane Paquette and Quebec residents who were diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after using or being exposed to Roundup between 1976 and the date of the eventual authorization of the class action.

The lawsuit seeks $10 million in punitive damages, plus potential pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages for each class member.

The Quebec City law firm Dussault Lemay Beauchesne launched the lawsuit on Paquette’s behalf. The firm told Radio-Canada that Paquette is the sole claimant at the moment because the motion was just submitted.

Monsanto Canada, Monsanto Co., headquartered in Missouri, and Bayer Inc., registered in Canada, are identified as defendants.

Bayer bought Monsanto last year for $63 billion.

Exposed to roundup for nearly a decade

According to documents filed in court, Paquette, the principal plaintiff, was exposed to Roundup between approximately 1997 and 2005 on a farm in L’Assomption, just northeast of Montreal.

She did not administer the product herself, but handled it on a regular basis and was in contact with crops where the herbicide had been sprayed, the court filing says.

Paquette alleges that in 2005 she was diagnosed with stage 4 chronic non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system.

“The plaintiff has suffered, and continues to suffer, serious bodily injury and pain and suffering,” the application to authorize the class action reads.

Paquette, who has not been able to work since her diagnosis, “has also suffered and continues to suffer pecuniary damages,” the submission says.

The suit accuses Monsanto and Bayer of “breaching their obligations” by misrepresenting Roundup and its active ingredient, glyphosate, as safe products.

It says the defendants failed to “properly, adequately and fairly warn of the risks” associated with the use of Roundup and glyphosate, or being exposed to it, and that they failed to reveal the extent of these risks.

At the time of publication, Monsanto Canada had not responded to CBC’s request for an interview. In a statement released last week, the company defended Roundup’s safety and said it was not carcinogenic.

Company ordered to pay $2 billion US

Ten days ago, a California court ordered the company to pay more than $2 billion US to a couple who alleged that Roundup had caused their cancer.

This was Bayer’s third consecutive loss in the U.S. for similar lawsuits.

Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency is required to reassess herbicides every 15 years and, after such a reassessment in 2017, it approved glyphosate for continued use in Canada, with some additional labelling requirements.

In January of this year, after reviewing hundreds of studies that were used in 2017, Health Canada maintained that approval.