Daily Management Review

Monsanto Found Liable For Sickness Of Farmer In A Court In France


Monsanto Found Liable For Sickness  Of Farmer In A Court In France
The Bayer-owned US company Monsanto is facing another legal battle over health issues from its products – this time in France. A French court has ruled that the company was liable for a man falling sick in the country after he had inhaled one of its weedkillers.
The case which has been going on for a decade now, an appeals court in Lyon in France ruled in favour of the claims made by the plaintiff, Paul Francois, a farmer by profession, that he had fallen sick because of Monsanto's Lasso weedkiller and that the company had made inadequate disclosures in its product labelling.
Francois, now 55 years old, claimed that in 2004, he had accidentally inhaled Lasso while he was working on his farm which had resulted in a number of health issues for him including neurological problems such as memory loss, fainting and headaches.
"Mr Francois justifiably concludes that the product, due to its inadequate labelling that did not respect applicable regulations, did not offer the level of safety he could legitimately expect," the court said in its ruling.
No compensation for the plaintiff however was announced in the latest verdict. The issue of compensation now would be examined in another court in Lyon. The plaintiff has sought about 1 million euros ($1.1 million) in damages from the company.
The legal options were being considered by Bayer and could also make an appeal at France's highest court. Monsanto had been acquired by Bayer last year for $63 billion.
According to a statement from the German company Bayer, its crop-protection products "do not pose a risk for human health if they are used according to the terms of use set out in their regulatory approval".
In 2012 and 2015, verdicts against Monsanto and in Francois’ favour was delivered by courts earlier but were overturned by France's top court and ordered the case to be heard afresh in Lyon.
"We are all happy to have won but it came at a heavy price," Francois told reporters in Paris. "It's a big sigh of relief. It's been 12 years of fighting, 12 years during which I had to put my whole life on hold."
France banned lasso in 2007 following the withdrawal of the product from some other countries. The product made use of a different active substance to glyphosate which is the chemical that is present in Monsanto's best-selling weedkiller Roundup, which again has quoted controversy in several court cases in the United States over alleged cancer development from prolonged use of the product.
 In cases filed by cancer sufferers, liability of the company has been found by courts and tens of millions of dollars in damages have been awarded to the plaintiffs. Those ruling are being contested against by Bayer.
Since last August, about 30 billion euros in market value has been lost by Bayer because of the legal battles over glyphosate and related illness.
It was "massively affected" by the litigation, said the group's chief executive on Thursday.