United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit Southern District of Georgia
Date Filed: 07/12/2022
Plaintiff-Appellant: John D. Carson
Defendant-Appellee: Monsanto Company
Circuit Judges: Rosenbaum, Tjoflat
District Judge: Moody
John Carson regularly used Roundup® on his lawn for about 30 years, until 2016. In about 2016, Carson was diagnosed with malignant fibrous histiocytoma, which he believed was linked to the compound glyphosate, the main chemical ingredient in Roundup®.
Carson filed suit against Monsanto, the manufacturer of Roundup®, on December 5, 2017. Carson alleged that Monsanto had strict liability for a design defect (Count I); had strict liability for failure to warn (Count II); had committed negligence (Count III); and had committed breach of implied warranties (Count IV). All of them were under Georgia law, but the District Court dismissed Counts I and III.
The question under FIFRA is whether Georgia common-law failure to warn would be different from or in addition to action that the EPA has taken that has the force of law.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit decided that the District Court had erred in concluding that Carson’s claim of failure to warn was preempted under FIFRA (because the EPA had classified glyphosate as not likely to be carcinogenic to humans) and approved the Roundup® label. Therefore, the Court of Appeals concluded to reverse the District Court’s ruling and remand for further proceedings.
Congress itself undermined the formality of EPA registration when it explained that the registration served only as prima facie evidence of compliance with the registration requirements of FIFRA. FIFRA requires that pesticide labels contain a warning or caution statement which may be necessary and if complied with to protect health and the environment.