The use of publicity for major corporate lawsuits is common. It’s both a way for the law firms involved to get the word out about their services and for parties to tell the public their sides of the story. A plaintiff may also hope that with more publicity about the allegations of wrongdoing, the cost of the litigation for the defendant rises, which may make it more amenable to a higher settlement. But not all lawsuits are in the press.
A class action lawsuit filed against Monsanto for falsely advertising its top selling herbicide Roundup was filed in Los Angeles County Court on April 20, 2015 and the Event Chronicle reports plaintiffs’ efforts to have the lawsuit covered by the major media have failed. It blames the fact that so few corporations own so much of the popular media and those corporations may not want to see another major corporation like Monsanto be bankrupted by a lawsuit.
Matthew Phillips, the attorney suing Monsanto in California for false advertising on Roundup bottles, also claims his postings on Wikipedia and Facebook have been removed. Phillips states Monsanto benefits from this lack of attention because the case is currently restricted to California, while better publicity could help the case become a nationwide class action case. The allegations Roundup is harmful to users could also hurt its sales, forcing the company to act.
The lawsuit claims that Monsanto advertises Roundup as impacting enzymes found only in plants, while those enzymes are also found in the human digestive system. Roundup’s impact on people could potentially lead to the development of cancers, according to the lawsuit.
On Monsanto’s website it admits that in March the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) evaluated the potential carcinogenic risks to humans from several pesticides, including glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup and concluded it is a 2A category as “probably carcinogenic to humans” but Monsanto claims that conclusion conflicts with the “overwhelming consensus by regulatory bodies and science organizations around the world” such as the federal Environmental Protection Agency which found “no evidence of carcinogenicity.” The company maintains the 2A classification shows no link between glyphosate and an increased risk of cancer and that at a hundred times the exposure during normal labeled use glyphosate is not a human health risk.
It’s hard to disprove a conspiracy to keep a lawsuit out of major media exists, but given the vast number of lawsuits filed in the U.S., it should be no surprise one in particular isn’t the headline story in the L.A. Times.
- At the end of 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals in all the circuits had over 54,000 cases pending.
- There were over 426,000 cases pending in federal district courts by the end of 2014.
- In California for 2011-2012, there were 9,237 filings in the state supreme court, the appellate courts had 21,894 contested matters and almost 8.5 million cases were filed statewide in the Superior Courts.
Given the sheer numbers of lawsuits, even in our 24/7 news cycle, internet fueled multiple media outlet society it’s no wonder many lawsuits that could be well grounded and impact thousands of people remain unknown.
If you are considering business litigation and want to learn more about how the court system works and how it may protect your legal rights, contact our office so we can talk about the issues you face, the applicable laws and the best ways for you to move forward.