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Reyes-Hernandez v. Monsanto

Elvira Reyes-Hernandez is a farmworker who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2019 after workplace exposure to Roundup, an herbicide manufactured by Monsanto. She filed suit against Monsanto for Roundup’s role in causing her cancer. She agreed to a settlement of her claims, but Monsanto then refused to finalize the settlement agreement because she is not a U.S. citizen.

Public Citizen served as co-counsel representing Ms. Reyes-Hernandez in a lawsuit alleging that Monsanto’s refusal violated 42 U.S.C. § 1981, a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of alienage in the making and enforcement of contracts. The lawsuit also named as defendants her former attorneys, who dropped her case when it did not settle, telling her that U.S. citizenship was required for settlement.

Several motions were pending when the case was stayed by the court while the parties participated in mediation. The parties reached a settlement and dismissed the case. As part of the settlement, Monsanto has agreed to neither seek nor accept any provision in future Roundup settlement agreements that permits immigration status or citizenship to be a factor in assessing any claimant’s eligibility to participate in any settlement, or in determining the amount awarded. The prospective relief is a significant benefit that will ensure that non-citizens can participate in future Roundup settlements.