Going Toe to Toe with Monsanto As an attorney with the Miller Firm L.L.C., Timothy Litzenburg '04 is representing more than 1,000 clients across the country in litigation against agri-business giant Monsanto.
UPDATE: On Friday, Aug. 24, 2018, a California jury found Monsanto liable in the case of one man represented by the Miller Firm L.L.C. The jury ordered the company to pay $289 million in damages. END UPDATE.
Timothy Litzenburg ’04 did not discover his passion for product liability law until his second year of law school, when he read “Four Trials,” by John Edwards. It was then he realized he had found his calling as a plaintiff lawyer.
Now as an attorney with the Miller Firm L.L.C., a national practice specializing in product liability and anti-terrorism cases, Litzenburg is representing more than 1,000 clients across the country in litigation against agri-business giant Monsanto. They assert that glyphosate, the primary ingredient in the popular herbicide Roundup, caused their non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
“Roundup is the world’s largest-selling herbicide. It is used on 80 percent of row crops,” Litzenburg says. “So we are even getting a daily dose of glyphosate in our diet. It is advertised as safe enough to drink but, as with many other products, we are finding out decades later that it causes cancer. Monsanto is denying all liability.”
Because doctors cannot simply biopsy a tumor and show what caused the cancer, Litzenburg and his team have come to subspecialize in cancer-causing products using epidemiology, or the study of statistical trends in populations. Cancer cases are tougher to prove than most, he says, but they have developed a winning trial strategy over the years.
Litzenburg spent a large part of his formative years in Lexington. His late father, Thomas Litzenburg ’57, was the director of the Reeves Center and the acting university chaplain.
Tim Litzenburg places great emphasis on the role of the American jury, “the great equalizer,” but getting before a jury is at least half the battle. His firm has chosen to pursue cases in places like Las Vegas, West Virginia and Philadelphia, where they feel they can find a fair jury of average folks.
“I take great pride in what we’ve done in state court trials. We try to keep the war going on as many fronts as possible,” he says. “I do trust the American juror. They are smarter than we think. They understand the science.”