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The Fight to End Cancer

Posted on Monday, February 3rd, 2020 at 9:34 am by Williams Hart   

February is National Cancer Prevention Month, and we at Williams Hart would like to take this opportunity to extend our sincerest gratitude to our clients who have entrusted us to fight for them as they and their loved ones face the daunting challenge of cancer. We honor the memory of those who have lost their battle by carrying on their strength and legacy in continuing to represent individuals whose diagnoses were directly linked to corporate negligence.

The attorneys and staff at Williams Hart are dedicated to educating and empowering our clients to take a stand against those whose recklessness and greed have robbed them of their health and livelihood. Our team is passionate about holding these corporations accountable.

Get the Facts

Cancer is a group of diseases characterized by uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells. ​There are over 100 types of cancer and any part of the body can be affected. It is the second most common cause of death in the U.S and accounts for nearly 1 in 4 deaths. In 2012 there were approximately 13.7 million Americans living with a history of cancer. While anyone can develop cancer, the risk of developing it increases with age. About 77% of all cancers are diagnosed in people 55-years or older.

According to data provided by the American Cancer Society in their annual Cancer Facts & Figures report, there will be an estimated 1.8million new cancer cases diagnosed and 606,520 cancer-related deaths in the United States in 2020.

Cancer Risk Factors

Research has shown that certain risk factors may increase a person’s chances of developing cancer, including age, lifestyle, genetics, and exposure to radiation, UV rays, or toxic chemicals. Certain behaviors such as tobacco use, poor diet, and alcohol consumption can significantly contribute to the possibility of a cancer diagnosis. However, other factors like age and family history cannot be prevented. 

While you can take all the right precautions to reduce your chances of developing cancer, you could still be put at risk by the negligence of others. Countless individuals across the country are facing cancer diagnoses after having been unknowingly exposed to cancer-causing substances, such as asbestos and glyphosate–the active ingredient in RoundUp. Fortunately, thousands of those victims have taken a stand to demand accountability from those responsible for their diagnoses.

RoundUp

RoundUp is one of the most commonly used weed killers among farmers, foresters, gardeners, and biologists trying to control weeds. Its widespread use has led to understandable concern following increased awareness about the link between Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma cancer and glyphosate, the active ingredient in RoundUp. The failure to warn consumers of the risk involved with RoundUp has continued in spite of the International Agency of Research on Cancer (IARC) listing glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen as early as 2015.

In a 2016 landmark lawsuit against Monsanto, a jury found that a California man’s exposure to the herbicide Roundup while he worked as a groundskeeper caused him to develop Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma (NHL). This was a first of its kind case which led to a unanimous verdict that Roundup’s glyphosate-based weedkiller was responsible for his cancer diagnosis.

Since then, more than 50,000 people have filed lawsuits across the country against Monsanto and are expected to go to trial in the coming years.

To learn more about how you can take action against Monsanto, visit cancerbyroundup.com

Asbestos

Asbestos is an extremely strong, fire-resistant material that was commonly used in construction work–particularly in plumbing and flooring materials–prior to the 1980s, when it was banned by the U.S. government. Decades of research has confirmed that asbestos exposure is a direct cause of mesothelioma, a rare cancer affecting the lining of the body’s internal organs that can cause difficulty breathing or swallowing, chest pain, and nerve pain.

Asbestos was used in a significant variety of consumer products and industrial applications. Some of the most common occupations that dealt with asbestos on a regular basis, before its official ban in the U.S., include: military jobs, ship-building, plumbing, dry walling, tile installation, and mining. Asbestos has also been found in Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder.

People who were wrongfully exposed to asbestos and are facing a loss of income, mounting medical costs, and travel expenses related to their exposure might qualify for compensation through a lawsuit.  In fact, there are approximately 60 active asbestos trust funds with an estimated $30 billion available for claimants. If you or someone you know received a cancer diagnosis after exposure to asbestos, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

Holding Accountability

Holding those responsible for causing cancer accountable discourages harmful practices that continue to hurt others while also giving the families who have been affected the ability to recover. Financial compensation can give those who have been hurt the necessary funds to pay for treatment and often times the long term medical care they now require. It can also help families whose income is permanently lost due to an individual losing the ability to work.

The law can be complex, and the process can be overwhelming when a loved one is facing a cancer diagnosis. It’s critical to hire a lawyer with the knowledge and resources to help you through this process. Our team has prevailed in legal action against massive corporations who have put profits over the health and safety of consumers, and we can do the same for you. We have the resources, skills, and experience necessary to take on these corporate interests and their aggressive defense teams. 

Join the Fight to End Cancer

Financial donations can be made in a number of ways, including monthly giving, IRA charitable rollovers, and honor and memorial giving. The following are just some of the organizations you can go through to support the cause:

 

Visit bestcharities.org to see a complete list of specific charities.

While financial donations are essential to cancer organizations and the people and programs they support, there are a number of ways to contribute: volunteering and participating in fundraising events, such as galas, golf tournaments, walks/runs, cycling, or any other way that suits you best.

To find out more about how you can contribute to the fight to end cancer, visit cancer.org.

 

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Cereal Killer: Monsanto Put RoundUp in My Kid’s Cheerios?

Posted on Friday, August 9th, 2019 at 5:24 pm by Williams Hart   

Imagine yourself on a Saturday afternoon: you’re at the grocery store, pushing a heavily loaded shopping cart through a maze of long, crowded aisles. You’re anticipating a lengthy receipt. 

Leaving behind a treacherous wall of cookies and other delicious treats, you turn the corner, kids trailing behind you, and at once realize you’ve entered another minefield of questionable choices: the cereal aisle. You try to move quickly but escape proves futile. 

Suddenly, a yellow, family-sized box appears. “Please?” the small voice whines. Sigh.

“Sure”.

 What’s the harm in another week’s worth of Cheerios, anyway?

Poison for Breakfast: Are Those Cheerios Contaminated?

It turns out, there may actually be significant harm in that box on its way to your pantry. 

Since the breakfast cereal was introduced to the American diet in 1863, children and adults alike have enjoyed an estimated 160 bowls, or 10 lbs of cereal, per person–annually. With a U.S. population of nearly 300-million people today, that’s 1.35 billion kilograms a year. That’s a lot of cereal. 

Until recently, devoted consumers have remained blissfully unaware of what may be hiding in those beloved boxes of sugary goodness.

The Study

Independent laboratory tests commissioned by the Environmental Working Group in 2018, and again in June 2019, revealed that heavy doses of glyphosate, the active ingredient in the popular herbicide RoundUp®️, have been found in many food products specifically marketed towards children. 

Unsafe levels of glyphosate were detected in all but two of 45 samples of oat-based food products distributed by two major companies, Quaker Oats and General Mills. Among those products, breakfast cereals consistently tested highest for glyphosate contamination. 

 

Product TypeVarietyGlyphosate (ppb)
Oat breakfast cerealHoney Nut Cheerios147
Oat breakfast cerealCheerios Toasted Whole Grain Oat Cereal729
Oat breakfast cerealChocolate Peanut Butter Cheerios400
Oat breakfast cerealCheerios Oat Crunch Cinnamon283
Oat breakfast cerealHoney Nut Cheerios Medley Crunch833
Oat breakfast cerealMulti Grain Cheerios216
Oat breakfast cerealNature Valley Baked Oat Bites389

(Source)

While the companies say there is no reason for concern, tests showed that 26 of the 28 samples revealed amounts of glyphosate higher than EWG’s safe upper limits. 

In another analysis, exposure to glyphosate increased the overall risk for Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma by 41%.

“All of the meta-analyses conducted to date, including our own, consistently report the same key finding: exposure to GBHs (glyphosate-based herbicides) are associated with an increased risk of NHL,” the authors wrote in a study published in the journal of Mutation Research

“It is very troubling that cereals children like to eat contain glyphosate,” said Alexis Temkin, an EWG toxicologist and author of the report. “Parents shouldn’t worry about whether feeding their children healthy oat foods will also expose them to a chemical linked to cancer. The government must take steps to protect our most vulnerable populations.” 

Representatives from General Mills and Kelloggs have denied that the levels of glyphosate found in their cereals are above safe limits. 

Who is the Environmental Working Group?

Founded in 1993 by Ken Cook, EWG is an American activist group and nonprofit organization that specializes in research and advocacy in the areas of agricultural subsidies, toxic chemicals, drinking water pollutants, and corporate accountability. Their mission is to empower people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Their key issues include consumer products, cosmetics, farming, food, toxics, and children’s health. 

The Cancer Round-Up

RoundUp is an extremely popular herbicide, originally produced by agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology giant Monsanto, and its widespread use has led to understandable concern following increased awareness about its possible carcinogenic effects.

RoundUp: Helpful Herbicide or Dangerous Carcinogen?

RoundUp and other herbicides with the active ingredient glyphosate are probably the most commonly used weed killers among farmers, foresters, gardeners, and biologists trying to control weeds. Since Roundup’s introduction in 1974 more than 9.4 million tons of Roundup have been sprayed into crops, fields, and backyards that pose a direct health risk to people across the country.

According to a report by The Guardian, “US farmers spray about 200m pounds of Roundup each year on their crops, including corn, soybeans, wheat and oats. It can also be used on produce such as spinach and almonds.”

How does it work?

Glyphosate-based herbicides all work on the same biochemical principle — they inhibit a specific enzyme that plants need in order to grow. The specific enzyme is called EPSP synthase. Without that enzyme, plants are unable to produce other proteins essential to growth, so they yellow and die over the course of several days or weeks. A majority of plants use this same enzyme, so almost all plants succumb to RoundUp.

Glyphosate is used mostly as a weedkiller on genetically modified corn and soybeans. But it is also sprayed on oats just before harvest as a drying agent, or desiccant. It kills the crop, drying it out so it can be harvested sooner, which increases the likelihood that glyphosate ends up in foods children love to eat.

Cancer Connection

The failure to warn consumers of the risk involved with RoundUp has continued in spite of the International Agency of Research on Cancer (IARC) listing glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen as early as 2015.  Recent court proceedings and newly published research have highlighted the possible link between Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and heavy use of RoundUp among those hard-at-work in the agricultural industry.

Dewayne “Lee” Johnson filed a lawsuit against Monsanto in 2016 alleging that being exposed to the Roundup herbicide while he worked as a groundskeeper caused him to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). This was a first of its kind case which led to a unanimous verdict that Roundup’s glyphosate-based weedkiller was responsible for Johnson’s cancer.  The trial took over 8 weeks and resulted in a unanimous jury verdict that Monsanto acted with malice and should be punished for its product. 

“I’ve been going through a lot of pain,” Johnson testified weeks earlier. “It really takes everything out of you … I’m not getting any better.” 

Jurors awarded Johnson $289 million. Johnson’s case was the first to go to trial because Johnson’s health is declining and doctors said he didn’t have long to live. Dying plaintiffs in California can be granted expedited trials. 

Since then, more than 18,000 people have filed lawsuits across the country against Monsanto and are expected to go to trial in the coming years.

What is a Genetically Modified Organism? 

Monsanto’s reputation as a controversial agricultural biotechnology corporation holds a dominant position in both herbicides and genetically modified organisms, specifically seeds.. Identified more closely than any other company with the effort to introduce genetically modified organisms into the food supply, Monsanto has been the target of ongoing campaigns for more than 20 years.

A GMO, or genetically modified organism, is a plant, animal, microorganism or other organism whose genetic makeup has been modified in a laboratory using genetic engineering or transgenic technology. This creates combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.

A Threat to Wildlife 

Because RoundUp is used heavily in the agricultural industry, new studies have also been conducted to examine its effect on wildlife. Recent research has suggested that Roundup compromises the immune systems of bees contributing to a critical decline in bee populations. Roundup also caused bee larva to grow more slowly and die more frequently than normal which is thought to be caused by a disruption in the beneficial gut bacteria within bees’ stomachs.  

“We all know that glyphosate is an antibiotic. It’s very toxic to bacteria. It’s even patented as an antibiotic,” says Nathan Donley, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “But very few researchers have actually dived into this issue. The good thing is, that’s starting to change.” 

Researchers Nancy Moran, Erick Motta and Kasie Raymann suggest their findings are evidence that glyphosate might be contributing to colony collapse disorder. Colony Collapse Disorder is the phenomenon that occurs when the majority of worker bees in a colony disappear and leave behind a queen, plenty of food and a few nurse bees to care for the remaining immature bees and the queen. This phenomenon has been wreaking havoc on both native and farmed honey bees for over a decade.

Cereal Offenders: Monsanto’s Controversial History

While the case against RoundUp is a concerning one, it is certainly not the first, or last, public grievance brought to Monsanto’s rap sheet. From its mistreatment of farmers, to morally questionable government lobbying, manufacturing of Agent Orange, and environmental and workplace safety issues–Monsanto’s disreputable past exudes suspicion and outright mistrust by the public. And rightfully so. 

Beginnings

Founded in 1901 in St. Louis, Missouri by pharmaceutical industry veteran John Francis Queeny, Monsanto began as a chemical company whose first products were commodity food additives, such as the artificial sweetener saccharin, caffeine and vanillin. 

Over a Century of White Collar Crime

Monsanto expanded rapidly throughout the 20th century, making a name for itself as, according to many advocacy groups, “the most evil corporation in the world”.

  • 1940. Monsanto produces polystyrene, the main component in Styrofoam, which creates large amounts of hazardous waste during manufacture.
  • 1945. Monsanto begins manufacturing toxic agricultural chemicals like 2,4-D, later used in Agent Orange. It also produces DDT.
  • 1956. The U.S. Navy refuses to purchase Monsanto’s hydraulic fluid after safety tests associate it with “definite liver damage.”
  • 1976. Monsanto introduces RoundUp, a synthetic chemical herbicide whose overuse soon creates glyphosate-resistant superweeds.
  • 1984. Monsanto pays millions to Vietnam War veterans suffering from exposure to Agent Orange.
  • 1990s. Monsanto takes 5th among U.S. corporations in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxic Release Inventory.
  • 1994. Monsanto introduces recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) to increase milk production, despite numerous adverse health concerns.
  • 1996. Monsanto introduces Roundup Ready soybeans, the company’s first genetically modified, pesticide-promoting seed, and the first GE insect-resistant cotton, which produces its own insecticide. Scientists find that aspartame, an artificial sweetener developed by a Monsanto subsidiary, could pose health risks to consumers.
  • 1998. Canadian government scientists accuse Monsanto of bribe attempts in obtaining approval of the drug hormone rBGH in Canada.
  • 2002. Monsanto is fined $1.5 million for bribing Indonesian officials to skip an environmental assessment of its GE cotton.
  • 2006. A judge rules that the USDA violated the Endangered Species Act by failing to conduct even minimal investigation into whether GE “pharma crops” could harm endangered species.

 

This is just a brief summary of Monsanto’s list of unjust acts against public health.

David vs. Monsanto: Legal Battles against Farmers

Perhaps one of Monsanto’s most widely publicized controversies was its mistreatment of both domestic and international farmers.

When Monsanto introduced its first genetically modified seeds in the 1990s, it forced farmers to sign contracts prohibiting them from continuing the traditional practice of saving some of the seeds from a harvest for planting the following season. To make sure farmers were compelled to purchase a new supply of the GMO seeds for every season, the company made sure it had the right to inspect and monitor the fields of its customers. It also brought lawsuits against farmers it claimed violated the company’s policies.

This controversy was highlighted in a 2011 documentary, David vs. Monsanto.

Bayer Purchase

Monsanto was purchased in 2018 by Bayer, one of the largest multinational pharmaceutical companies in the world. 

Since then, Bayer‘s stock prices have been hit hard by the recent legal rulings regarding the RoundUp cancer lawsuits. Bayer’s total market value has plummeted to less than the price it paid for Monsanto when they purchased the company last year. People took to the streets to demonstrate against acquiring Monsanto to begin with. “Bayer has choked on Monsanto,” said Ingo Speich of German lender Deka bank. “The company risks being taken over and dismantled.” Mark Tuemmler of investors’ federation DSW said 2018 was “a nightmare for shareholders.”

As of August 9th, 2019, there have been rumors that Bayer is reportedly offering a settlement of $8 billion  for the 18,000 claims filed against the RoundUp manufacturer. That’s in the ballpark of half of $1 million for each claim filed.

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