JP councilman, cancer survivor to file suit against Monsanto

JP councilman to file suit against Monsanto
A local leader is preparing to face off against Monsanto. (Source: Roundup website)
A local leader is preparing to face off against Monsanto. (Source: Roundup website)

(WVUE) - A local leader is preparing to face off against Monsanto. Diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Jefferson Parish Councilman Chris Roberts is set to make a claim similar to the one making headlines across the country. A jury just ruled that weed killer Roundup can cause cancer.

"People say that it changes your life. It does. If you want to do certain things, you don't put them off," said Roberts.

Chris Roberts tries to live in the moment. He's a father of four, a husband and a Jefferson Parish councilman.

Yet he lives with a constant threat.

"I would be considered to be in remission, however, those types of cancers, when they come back, they can come back as leukemia, they can come back as other types of cancer," Roberts explained.

Roberts has non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of cancer that starts in white blood cells.

"The first thing that went through my mind when I was diagnosed was, 'I have a daughter, am I going to be able to walk her down the aisle?' And that's a tough thing to have to face," recalled Roberts.

In his late 20s, Roberts was diagnosed with a type of cancer he says usually doesn't show up until one's 50s or 60s.

"It was a rare situation, meaning, at the time when I was diagnosed, how did this happen? What's the cause?" Roberts said.

Now, a recent ruling out of San Francisco has Roberts taking a hard look at Roundup as the culprit.

"It was through the course of this trial and reading a lot of the reporting on the trial, the testimony and the evidence that was submitted that there's a good chance that could be the case," said Roberts.

A jury ruled Friday that the popular weed killer gave a former school groundskeeper terminal cancer. The 12 awarded him nearly $290 million in damages.

"I'm glad to be here to be able to help with the cause way bigger than me so hopefully, this thing will start to get the attention that it needs," said plaintiff Dewayne Johnson.

Roberts says he grew up around Roundup

"My father was a supplier for them (Monsanto) for 30 years," said Roberts. "We did use the product quite a bit at our household and also even after I moved out on my own."

A Monsanto plant that produces the weedkiller is located in Luling.

Now, as Roberts prepares to file suit against Monsanto, he's encouraging people stop using Roundup.

"We live in an area where we are known to have a lots of cases of cancer and we don't need products that are known to or could increase the chance being used," Roberts explained.

Roberts says he can't comment on his pending lawsuit but he's one of thousands looking to sue.

Monsanto issued a statement after the verdict indicating it stands by studies that suggest Roundup does not cause cancer. The vice president says the company will appeal the decision.

"Frankly, that shocked me. That's not who we are. That's not what we did. And that certainly will be a very closely, closely argued point," said Monsanto Vice President Scott Partridge.

The burden of proof in this case fell on the plaintiff. They didn't have to prove Roundup was the only cause of Johnson's cancer, just that it was a "substantial contributing factor".