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Bringing Pesticide Injury Cases to US Courts: The Challenges of Transnational Litigation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 June 2019

JD, Northeastern University School of Law; Partner, Thornton Law Firm, Boston, MA, USA. The author is one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs in Hupan v Alliance One, International Inc, Case No. N12C-02-171 (Delaware Sup Ct).


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Developments in the Field – Special Issue on Agribusiness and Accountability
© Cambridge University Press 2019 

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1 Monsanto, ‘History in Argentina’, (accessed 20 November 2017).

2 Information on growing tobacco in Misiones and Philip Morris’ involvement is well documented in materials obtained from the University of California, San Francisco: See, e.g., Philip Morris Records, ‘Tabacos Norte Report’, note 1 (June 1990), (accessed 9 January 2019).

3 Philip Morris Records, ‘Tabacos Norte Report’, note 2.

4 Ellen Hickey and Yenyen Chan, ‘Tobacco, Farmers and Pesticides: The Other Story’, published by the Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA), 1998.

5 Philip Morris Records, ‘Tabacos Norte Report’, note 2.

6 Ibid.

7 Baranger, Denis et al, ‘Tabaco y Agrotoxicos: un Eestudio sobre productores de Misiones’ (Editorial Universitaria de Universidad Nacional de Misiones, 2007).Google Scholar

8 Paganelli, Alejandra et al, ‘Glyphosate-Based Herbicides Produce Teratogenic Effects on Vertebrates by Impairing Retinoic Acid Signaling’ (2010) 23:10 Chemical Research in Toxicology 1586.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed

9 Nicolas Misculin, ‘Argentine Herbicide Lawsuit Alarms Soy Farmers’, Reuters (7 May 2009), (accessed 12 March 2018).

10 Benitez-Leite, S et al, ‘Congenital Malformations Associated with Toxic Agricultural Chemicals’ (2007) 34:2 Pediatr (Asuncion) 111.Google Scholar

11 Medardo Ávila Vazquez and Carlos Nota (coordinators), ‘Report from the 1st National Meeting of Physicians in the Crop-Sprayed Towns’, organized by the Faculty of Medical Sciences, National University of Cordoba on 27 and 28 August 2010, (accessed 12 March 2018).

12 See Blatter, Brigitte M et al, ‘Spina Bifida and Parental Occupation: Results from Three Malformation Monitoring Programs in Europe’ (2000) 16:4 European Journal of Epidemiology 343 CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Brender, Jean D et al, ‘Maternal Pesticide Exposure and Neural Tube Defects in Mexican Americans’ (2010) 20:1 Annals of Epidemiology 16 CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed; Rull, Randolph P et al, ‘Neural Tube Defects and Maternal Residential Proximity to Agricultural Pesticide Applications’ (2006) 163:8 American Journal of Epidemiology 743.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed

13 General Foods Corp v Cyro-Maid, Inc 198 A 2d 681, 684–85 (Del 1964). See also Greenberg, Mark D, ‘The Appropriate Source of Law for Forum Non Conveniens Decisions in International Cases: A Proposal for the Development of Federal Common Law’ (1986) 4 International Tax & Business Law 155.Google Scholar

14 General Foods Corp 198 A.2d at 684 (setting forth six factors governing forum considerations for cases filed by foreign plaintiffs against companies incorporated in Delaware).

15 28 U.S.C. § 1350.

16 Ultimately the case proceeded against two tobacco entities: Philip Morris Global Brands, Inc. and Philip Morris USA Inc. (the Philip Morris Defendants), and Monsanto Company, Inc., which were incorporated in Delaware.

17 The factual allegations against Monsanto, Philip Morris and the role of Tobacos Norte in growing tobacco in Misiones are set forth in Plaintiffs’ Complaint filed in Hupan et al v Alliance One International, Inc. Case No. N12C-02-171 (Docket Entry Transaction ID 42488572).

18 See Hupan v Alliance One Int’l, Inc Del Super LEXIS 980 (2015) (opinion has not been released for publication).

19 See the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) 1947 (US), prohibiting states from ‘imposing any requirements for labeling or packaging in addition to or different from the requirements of FIFRA itself’.

20 Martinez v E.I. Dupont de Nemours & Co 86 A 3d 1102 (Del 2014) (upholding the lower court conclusion that the claims of an Argentinian plaintiff for asbestos injuries against the defendant incorporated in Delaware were properly dismissed and purportedly clarifying and guiding the inquiry that should be made on motions based upon FNC).

21 Hupan, note 17.

22 Aranda v Philip Morris USA Inc Del LEXIS 129 (Del 2018) (acknowledging that Delaware is in the minority among states in not requiring that an alternative forum must be found to exist in order to dismiss a case on FNC grounds). The future of the remaining claims against Monsanto in the Delaware courts remains uncertain as the court is yet to render its final decision on whether the claims against Monsanto should be dismissed.

23 Hupan, note 17, at 13.

24 See Chavez v Dole Food Co, No. 1-12-cv-00697-702 (USDC DE) (action involving foreign plaintiffs who brought suit over two decades ago in the US for pesticide injuries. These cases are still pending without resolution).

25 Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), Some Organophosphate Insecticides and Herbicides, Monograph Volume 112 (Lyon: IARC, 2017) 398 (finding a positive association observed for non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in humans).Google Scholar

26 Johnson v Monsanto, No. CGC16550128 (Cal App Dep’t Sup Ct (2018), appeal docketed No. A155940 (Cal Ct App 2018).

27 In re Roundup Prod Liab Litig, No16-md-02741-VC, 2018 WL 3368534, at *36 (ND Cal July 10, 2018).

28 See, e.g., Lake v Bayer Corp. LEXIS 229 (Conn Super Ct 2006); Varo v Owens-Illinois, 948 A 2d 673 (NJ Sup Ct App Div 2008); Ellis v AAARP Parts Trading, Inc 828 N E 2d 726 (Ill App Ct 2005).

29 See Erwin v Motorola, Inc 945 N E 2d 1153 (Ill App Ct 2011) (denying an FNC challenge seeking to move the case from Illinois, where the defendant was headquartered, to another state where the alleged tortious conduct and plaintiff resided).