LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A Walnut woman whose youngest son suffers from a rare form of cancer did not contract the disease from exposure to Roundup she sprayed in the family's back yard, a jury found.
The Los Angeles Superior Court panel deliberated for about a day before reaching its verdict Tuesday. The jury was asked during the trial to determine whether Ezra Clark's Burkitt's lymphoma, an aggressive form of cancer that affects the lymph nodes, was rooted in his exposure to Roundup that his mother, Destiny Clark, sprayed at the family's Fuero Drive home from 2011-16. The weed killer is manufactured by the Monsanto Co.
Ezra, now 10, was 4 years old when he was diagnosed with his cancer in February 2016. His mother brought the suit on his behalf last Dec. 4.
“He got exposed every weekend for a couple of years,'' Fletcher Trammell, one of Destiny Clark's lawyers, told jurors during opening statements of the trial on Sept. 15.
Destiny Clark was unaware at the time, but her son was autistic and would commonly cling to her while she was using the herbicide, Trammell said. The boy's autism also made him shun clothing because of sensory processing issues and he commonly wore little more than a diaper, according to Trammell. The exposure ended in 2016, when the boy began vomiting and having diarrhea and doctors later found a large mass in his stomach, Trammell said.
Trammell said Roundup is a glyphosate-based herbicide that some experts believe can cause cancer. He said the Clark family has no history of lymphoma and that Destiny Clark's other three children, who stayed inside while she sprayed Roundup, did not contract Burkitt's lymphoma.
However, Monsanto attorney Brian Steckloff told jurors that science has disproved a connection between the product and the boy's condition. He also said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has concluded that glyphosate is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans and that is why Roundup can still be bought in stores.
He rejected Trammell's argument that the EPA was only concerned with the effects of glyphosate on food and pesticide spraying of crops, arguing that the agency had examined all aspects of its possible effects.
Steckloff also said children typically do not get cancer from environmental exposure and that Destiny Clark's own family members undermined much of her argument during their deposition testimony, with some saying they did not see anyone spraying Roundup around Ezra.
While Destiny Clark maintains her parents bought her multiple bottles of Roundup a year, her father, Charles Crenshaw, testified that he only bought about two bottles annually, Steckloff said.
Ezra's condition, the most common type of pediatric cancer, was probably caused by mutations in his DNA, Steckloff said.
Monsanto was bought in 2018 by Bayer AG, a German corporation that assumed all liabilities. The verdict matched what decades of science and research showed about the safety of glyphosate, according to a Bayer statement.
“While we have great sympathy for Ezra Clark and his family, the jury carefully considered the science applicable to this case and determined that Roundup was not the cause of his illness,'' the statement read.
The verdict is the fourth involving Roundup and the first in Bayer's favor.
Copyright 2021, City News Service, Inc.