Costco Wholesale Corporation is in the crosshairs of a proposed class action lawsuit over its sale of the herbicide Roundup, which contains the probable carcinogen glyphosate.
Arguing that Roundup is “defective, dangerous to human health, unfit and unsuitable” to be sold without proper warnings as to the dangers of its use, the 17-page lawsuit centers on Costco’s apparent responsibility to warn consumers of the carcinogenic risks of using the weedkiller. As a retail distributor of Roundup, Costco possesses a Safety Data Sheet sent by the product’s manufacturer, Monsanto Company, that details the risks to users’ eyes and face, skin and respiratory system, the lawsuit claims. Despite its awareness of the dangers of Roundup and the lack of sufficient warnings on product labels, Costco “does not warn consumers they may be exposed to glyphosate through inhalation and skin contact,” and fails to advise consumers to use a gas mask respirator while using the product, the case argues.
“The front label of the Product only provides the warnings ‘Keep Out of Reach of Children’ and ‘Caution,’” the complaint states. “The only identified hazard is that it may cause ‘moderate eye irritation.’ Defendant fails to warn consumers of the carcinogenic risks of using the Products and fails to include proper use instructions for Roundup.”
Citing New York’s General Business Law, the complaint alleges Costco’s failure to disclose Roundup’s carcinogenic properties and/or its potential to cause cancer are “misleading and deceptive” to the general public. Moreover, Costco, the case charges, “concealed and continues to conceal” material facts with regard to Roundup’s dangers. The plaintiff argues that neither he nor proposed class members would have bought Roundup from the defendant had they had any indication that the product or its ingredients posed a cancer risk.
The filing of the case comes on the heels of some tumultuous months for Monsanto. After lessons on glyphosate’s classification as a probable carcinogen by the World Health Organization (WHO) and early studies on the herbicide’s cancer-linked properties, the lawsuit notes that Monsanto has lost three 2019 trials in which juries found Roundup caused the plaintiffs’ cancer diagnoses. Monsanto’s parent company, Bayer AG, is appealing a $78 million verdict handed down in California, and a judge significantly reduced a $2 billion verdict against the company in July.
The lawsuit looks to cover all consumers who purchased any variety of Roundup in New York during the to-be-defined class period.