A California woman who has gone through multiple cycles of chemotherapy and has suffered significant memory loss struggled to answer questions posed by a Monsanto attorney in the fourth Roundup cancer trial to be held in the U.S. 

Plaintiff Donetta Stephens, whose case was granted preference by Judge Gilbert Ochoa for the Superior Court of San Bernardino County, has alleged that long-term use and exposure to Roundup weed killer caused her to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which was diagnosed in 2017. 

According to U.S. Right to Know, while cross-examining Stephens, Monsanto attorney Bart Williams asked the plaintiff questions about the history of her usage of the herbicide and her exposure to it. Based on Stephens’ testimony, Williams questioned Stephens about why her answers contradicted the information she provided in depositions. 

In previous testimony, Stephens’ son, David, told the court that he remembers when he was a child that his mother frequently sprayed Roundup and that she frequently wore sleeveless shirts and shorts when she applied the herbicide. He added that his mother continued to maintain these habits into his adulthood. 

But on September 20, in testimony held online via Zoom, Williams attempted to make Donnetta Stephens’ testimony unreliable. Williams maintained that Stephens’ son and husband told her what to say in terms of her history of Roundup usage. 

Williams claimed that Stephens had originally said she began using Roundup in 2003 but then later claimed the use began nearly two decades earlier. 

In testimony, Stephens did acknowledge that because of her failing memory, her family helped her remember some information. 

“You and I agree that one should not swear to something, accuracy, if you don’t know whether it is true or not. That is my question,” Williams addressed Stephens.

“At that time, I believed it to be true, yes sir,” she replied, per U.S. Right to Know. 

“You believed it to be true solely because that’s what your husband or your son said, correct?” Williams asked.

“Yes,” Stephens answered.

Stephens’ attorneys had anticipated Monsanto’s strategy, having addressed the issue of her failing memory in a June filing

The disparity between Stephens’ original testimony, that her Roundup exposure was over the course of 14 years rather than approximately 30 years, stemmed from the fact that she forgot she had used the herbicide at a property where she previously lived, her lawyers explained. 

Over 125,000 individuals have sued Monsanto after using Roundup and developing cancer. Stephens’ trial is the first since 2019. In the three previous trials, juries found in favor of the plaintiffs, who were awarded multi-million-dollar damage awards. 

Monsanto owner, Bayer AG, has resolved approximately 95,000 Roundup lawsuits with a nearly $11 billion settlement. Bayer’s plan to resolve all future Roundup litigation for an additional $2 billion has been rejected twice by a federal judge. 

In July, Bayer announced that Roundup will no longer be available for residential sale by 2023.