Pilliod v. Monsanto Company 2019-04-17T19:41:52+00:00

Pilliod v. Monsanto Company | California Roundup JCCP

Alva and Alberta Pilliod v. Monsanto Co. (Case No. RG17862702, JCCP No. 4953) is the first Roundup non-Hodgkin lymphoma lawsuit from the California Roundup Judicial Council Coordination Proceedings (JCCP) to go to trial. Hundreds of lawsuits filed in California state courts are consolidated in the Roundup JCCP before Judge Winifred Smith for the Superior Court of Alameda County.

Pilliod v. Monsanto Co. is the third Roundup cancer case to go before a jury. The first Monsanto Roundup trial, Dewayne “Lee” Johnson v. Monsanto Co., resulted in a $289.2 million jury verdict last August. The judge later upheld the jury’s verdict but reduced the punitive damages award, bringing the total award to $78.5 million. The second case, Edwin Hardeman v. Monsanto Co., resulted in an $80 million jury verdict against the agrochemical company.

Plaintiffs in the litigation against Monsanto (now Bayer) allege that exposure to Roundup weed killer caused them to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Quick link to Pilliod trial transcripts

Quick link to Pilliod trial exhibits

Quick link to Pilliod trial press release

Looking for unsealed Monsanto emails, communications, studies and other memoranda? Visit the Monsanto Papers page.

Alva Pilliod and his wife, Alberta, are in their 70s and have been married for nearly 50 years. They started using Roundup in the 1970s and continued using the weed killer until only a few years ago. The Livermore couple has two children and four grandchildren.

Alva suffers from non-Hodgkin lymphoma in his bones that spread to his pelvis and spine. He was diagnosed in 2011. Alberta was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma brain cancer in 2015.

Attorneys for the Pilliods asked Judge Ioana Petrou (the previous presiding judge who has since been appointed to the First District Court of Appeal) to expedite the trial due to their advanced ages and cancer diagnoses. Judge Petrou granted their trial preference. The presiding judge for this trial is now Judge Winifred Smith.

The Miller Firm senior partner Michael J. Miller and Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman attorney R. Brent Wisner are co-lead trial counsel for the Pilliods. The Miller Firm and Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman co-tried the Johnson case last year.

Pilliod v. Monsanto Company Trial Transcripts

Day 1: 3/28/2019 – Plaintiff opening statement by R. Brent Wisner. Defense opening statement by Tarek Ismail.

Day 2: 4/2/2019Dr. Christopher Portier 402 Hearing (short hearing out of the presence of the jury to determine the admissibility of evidence). Direct examination by R. Brent Wisner. Cross-examination by Tarek Ismail. Redirect examination by R. Brent Wisner.

Dr. Christopher Portier testimony (jury present). Direct examination by R. Brent Wisner.

Dr. Portier holds a Ph.D. in Biostatistics (with a minor in Epidemiology). For over three decades, Dr. Portier held prominent leadership positions in the U.S. government that combined the disciplines of toxicology, statistics and epidemiology, including:

  • Associate Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) National Toxicology Program and thus the nation’s chief toxicologist, among other roles at NIEHS.
  • Director of the National Center for Environmental Health, Center for Disease and Prevention.
  • Director of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).

Expert Report of Dr. Portier

Day 3: 4/3/2019 – Dr. Christopher Portier testimony (continued). Direct examination by R. Brent Wisner. Cross-examination by Tarek Ismail. Redirect examination by R. Brent Wisner.

Day 4: 4/4/2019 – Dr. Charles Jameson testimony. Direct examination by R. Brent Wisner. Cross-examination by Tarek Ismail. Redirect examination by R. Brent Wisner. Recross-examination by Tarek Ismail.

Dr. Jameson worked for the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute (NCI) as a senior chemist for the NCI’s Rodent Bioassay Program where he served as chief chemist, directing all chemistry activities and participating in the development of all two-year rodent bioassays while also serving as secretary for the NCI’s Chemical Selection Working Group. He also served as program leader for the National Toxicology Program at the NIH’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) for 12 years.

Expert Report of Dr. Jameson

Day 5: 4/8/2019 – Dr. Beate Ritz, Chair of the Epidemiology Department at UCLA, direct examination by Michael Miller. Cross-examination by Kelly Evans. Redirect examination by Michael Miller. Recross-examination by Kelly Evans. Further redirect examination by Michael Miller.

Mark Martens video testimony (taken on April 7, 2017 in Washington, D.C.).  Mr. Martens is a former Monsanto executive, Toxicology Agriculture Research & Development Director for Monsanto Europe. 

Dr. Ritz is a professor of Epidemiology at the University of California, Los Angeles. She holds doctoral degrees in Medicine and Epidemiology and is the author of numerous toxicology publications, lectures and presentations. Dr. Ritz engaged in a systematic review of the literature in this case, utilized the Bradford Hill Criteria and concluded that “to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty, glyphosate causes NHL. Furthermore, to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty, glyphosate-based formulations, including Roundup, cause NHL.”

 Dr. Ritz Expert Report

Day 6: 4/9/2019 – Dr. Dennis Weisenburger direct examination by Michael Miller. Cross-examination by Tarek Ismail.

Dr. Weisenburger specializes in the studies of the hematopoietic and immune systems, with a special interest in non-Hodgkin lymphoma. His study of the pathological mechanisms by which NHL develops began in the 1980s when he was directing large epidemiologic studies related to NHL.

Over the last four decades, Dr. Weisenburger has published over 300 papers on NHL in peer-reviewed journals, and over 50 papers on the epidemiology of NHL, including studies on glyphosate and NHL. In his expert report, Dr. Weisenburger concluded that to “a reasonable degree of medical certainty that glyphosate and GBFs [glyphosate-based formulations] (including Roundup) can cause NHL in humans exposed to these chemicals in the workplace or environment.”

 Dr. Weisenburger Expert Report

Day 7: 4/10/2019 – Dr. Dennis Weisenburger cross-examination by Tarek Ismail (resumed). Redirect examination by Michael Miller. Recross-examination by Tarek Ismail. Further re-direct examination by Michael Miller. Further recross-examination by Tarek Ismail.

Mark Martens video testimony (resumed).

William Reeves video testimony. Mr. Reeves is Global Health and Safety Issues Management Lead at Bayer Crop Science.

Day 8: 4/11/2019 – Dr. William Robert Sawyer, toxicologist, direct examination by Brent Wisner. Cross-examination by Kelly Evans. Redirect examination by Brent Wisner.

William Reeves video testimony (resumed)

Day 9: 4/15/19 – William Reeves video testimony (resumed)

William Heydens video testimony (Monsanto Regulatory Product Safety Assessment Lead)

Michael Koch video testimony (Product Safety Team Lead, Bayer Crop Science)

Day 10: 4/16/19 – Michael Koch video testimony (resumed)

William Pease, direct examination by Brent Wisner. Cross-examination by Eugene Brown, Jr. Redirect examination by Brent Wisner.

Dr. Pease, toxicologist and assistant adjunct professor at the School of Public Health, University of California at Berkeley. In the early 90s he was a Research Toxicologist at UC Berkeley, where he coordinated the school’s Environmental Health Policy Program and conducted research on the impacts of pesticide use in California. Dr. Pease served as the co-chair of the Human Health Committee of CalEPA’s Comparative Risk Project, organizing its risk assessment and risk ranking process.

Michael Koch video testimony (resumed)

Aaron Blair video testimony. Dr. Blair currently serves as an advisor on the Chlordecone Scientific Committee (Institute National du Cancer, France), Pesticide Advisory Committee (Carex Canada), and Independent Advisory Board for Exposure Assessment (Institute of Occupational Medicine, Scotland). He has authored/coauthored more than 500 papers on occupational and environmental causes of cancer, other diseases, and epidemiologic methodology.

Daniel Goldstein video testimony. Dr. Goldstein works for Monsanto as Monsanto Lead Medical Sciences and Outreach

Day 11: 4/17/2019 – Charles Benbrook, scientist and agricultural economist, direct examination by Brent Wisner. Cross-examination by Eugene Brown, Jr. Redirect by Brent Wisner.

Kavitha Raj video testimony. Dr. Kavitha Raj is the treating physician for Mr. and Mrs. Pilliod.