Local lawsuit filed over Roundup: Lawyer alleges Walmart in violation of Arkansas consumer protection law

Containers of Monsanto Roundup weed killer on a garden supply store shelf in New York on May 23, 2016.
Containers of Monsanto Roundup weed killer on a garden supply store shelf in New York on May 23, 2016.

A lawsuit filed Monday in a Texarkana federal court seeks compensation for anyone who bought a Roundup weed killer product from a Walmart in the state of Arkansas.

The complaint, filed by Texarkana lawyer Steve Harrelson, names Texarkana, Arkansas, resident Anthony Jewell as plaintiff and requests certification as a class action that would allow "all persons who purchased, in Arkansas, at least one Roundup product from Walmart for personal use and not for resale."

Harrelson could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Walmart responded in an email Thursday stating the company was routing the request for comment to the appropriate representative.

Roundup contains the herbicide glyphosate, which has been linked to disease in humans and animals. The suit filed in Texarkana this week alleges Roundup products contain inadequate warnings and that Walmart didn't do enough to protect customers.

The suit alleges Walmart is in violation of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

"Roundup's labeling provides certain warnings, such as, 'Keep Out of Reach of Children' and 'Caution.' But the only identified hazard is that it may cause 'moderate eye irritation,'" the complaint states. "This warning gives the false impression eye irritation is the only risk posed by Roundup, when in fact, glyphosate is known to have links to cancer."

Walmart, as a retailer of Roundup, is provided with a "Safety Data Sheet" by the manufacturer, which details the product's risks, according to the complaint. The SDS provided to Walmart by Roundup's manufacturer warns of inhalation and skin contact.

"Defendant further omits proper use instructions, e.g. advising consumers to use a gas mask respirator when using Roundup," the complaint states. "Reasonable consumers, like plaintiff, who have purchased Roundup, would not have done so had they known of its carcinogenic risks or had defendant provided a warning on how to minimize these risks."

The complaint chronicles a number of studies that raise concern about the health risks glyphosate exposure may pose. Also mentioned are other lawsuits against Roundup manufacturers, which have resulted in multi-million judgments for plaintiffs. The complaint notes as well restrictions and bans on glyphosate in multiple countries.

The complaint seeks a court order requiring Walmart to recall all Roundup products with labeling that is allegedly inadequate to inform consumers about the product's potential hazards. The complaint asks that Walmart be compelled to sell only Roundup products with labeling that warns of the potential dangers of glyphosate exposure.

The complaint also seeks "restitution" and notes that Jewell routinely paid $12 to $15 for Roundup products purchased at the Walmart located in Miller County, Ark. The complaint also asks that a determination be made as to whether Walmart should be liable for attorney fees, court costs and damages meant to punish and deter future similar conduct.

The case is pending in the Texarkana Division of the Western District of Arkansas and is assigned to U.S. District Judge Susan Hickey.


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