Articles Posted in Roundup

Although Bayer has already settled 80% of the pending Roundup cases, the company could be facing thousands of future Roundup claims for years to come. After previous efforts to curtail future Roundup liability failed, Bayer’s only hope of avoiding another decade of Roundup settlements is winning a long-shot appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The odds of Bayer winning this appeal are very small, but yesterday the Supreme Court gave Bayer a small ray of hope by asking the Biden administration to weigh in on whether to hear Bayer’s appeal. In response, Bayer immediately announced that it was halting any further settlements in the remaining Roundup cases.

Status of the Roundup Litigation

Thousands of Roundup lawsuits have been filed over the last 5 years by individuals alleging that the popular weed killer caused them to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (or other cancer types). The overwhelming majority of these Roundup lawsuits have ended up in federal court based on diversity jurisdiction and then consolidated into the Roundup MDL. To date, only a small percentage of Roundup cases have been litigated in the state courts and those have been limited to California.

Last week, the Roundup MDL Judge remanded a Roundup lawsuit back down to state court in Virginia because a local supplier was named as a defendant, thereby defeating the basis for diversity jurisdiction in federal court. This marks one of the first occasions in which a Roundup case has been remanded outside of California. After 3 bellwether test trials (with disastrous results for Bayer) and a rejected global settlement proposal, the Roundup MDL is currently in holding mode as Bayer has been settling large blocks pending cases. Now, for the first time, Bayer may face increased pressure as it becomes forced to litigate Roundup cases in state courts across the country.

Roundup Litigation

Roundup is one of the most popular and widely used weed killers in the world. Roundup was first released in the early 1970s by Monsanto (now owned by pharma giant Bayer) and it eventually came to dominate the weed killer market, both commercial and residential. Roundup was everywhere and there was never any question about whether it was safe.

The end of Roundup’s success story began about 5 years ago when it was discovered that chronic exposure to the active ingredient in Roundup (glyphosate) could cause certain types of cancer. This discovery was followed by an inevitable tidal wave of lawsuits by individuals who were diagnosed with cancers such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after prolonged use of Roundup.

roundup settlement
The Roundup lawsuits soon numbered in the thousands and were consolidated into multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the Northern District of California. Monsanto (and its successor Bayer) has repeatedly refused to admit that Roundup is unsafe and aggressively defended its product in the courts.  After years of civil discovery and a series of “test trials” that resulted in massive plaintiff verdicts, Bayer finally gave in and announced in 2020 that it was going to pay a staggering $10 billion to settle all of the Roundup lawsuits.

Ever since its acquisition of Monsanto for $63 billion back in 2016, Bayer AG has found itself defending an exhausting war of attrition against claims that its weed killer product, Roundup, caused thousands of users to get cancer. At first, Bayer was determined to defend the safety of Roundup in the courtroom. But the first handful of Roundup trials in 2018 and 2019 resulted in spectacular losses with 3 verdicts totaling almost $3 billion.

These crushing verdicts essentially forced Bayer to change its strategy and start the long process of settling out large blocks of pending Roundup cases. So far almost $10 billion has been paid out to resolve over 90,000 cases and last month, Bayer earmarked another $4.5 billion to cover future Roundup claims.

In the meantime, Bayer has also been pursuing appeals seeking to overturn the gigantic verdicts in the Roundup test cases. Earlier this week, however, a California appellate court thoroughly rejected the most significant of these appeals and accused Bayer of having no regard for consumer safety.

A federal jury this week found that exposure to Roundup, the popular weed killer product, caused a California man to develop cancer.  How much money did they award?  They have not given an award because the case was bifurcated.  There will be another phase to determine damages.

In phase 2 of the trial in San Francisco, the jury determines Monsanto’s liability and decides how much money to award in damages. Hardeman v. Monsanto is the bellwether case for the Roundup MDL (what is an MDL?) which includes thousands of similar suits from federal courts around the country. The ultimate outcome of the Hardeman trial will dictate how the remaining Roundup cases are resolved and things are looking good for the plaintiffs so far.

I’m not writing many blog posts with an exclamation point in the title. But my goodness.

roundup lawsuits verdictsA jury in Oakland, California this week found Monsanto liable for yet another case of cancer and awarded a couple $2 billion plus more than $55 million total in compensatory damages! Alva and Alberta Pilliod are both in their 70s and have lived in Livermore, a town 40 miles east of San Francisco, for over 30 years.

While living there, they also used Roundup for over 30 years to keep their home landscaped and unfortunately, both developed cancer. Alva was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2011 that started in his bones and soon spread to his pelvis and spine. Four years later, his wife Alberta was also diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, but hers was in her brain. Fortunately, they both survived and are currently in remission, but the cancer has had life-changing effects on both of their lives and they both have suffered lasting damage from it.

Last week I read speculation that the Roundup lawsuits might bankrupt Bayer because the cost of the settlements and verdicts they will have to pay will destroy the company.  Do I believe this?  No.  But, boy, it makes me more interested in every tidbit of information about the Roundup lawsuits pending in federal court.

federal roundup trial The judge overseeing all the federal lawsuits involving the weed killer Roundup has granted Bayer’s request to have an upcoming trial split into two phases. This order prevents plaintiffs from introducing evidence that the company tried to influence regulators and manipulate the public into thinking that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, was safe. Roundup plaintiffs’ attorneys opposed Bayer’s proposals because they felt that their evidence proves Monsanto’s intent and misconduct.

Upcoming trial in February 2019

U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria will preside hold the first glyphosate cancer case in federal court on February 25, 2019. It will be the first of over 600 cases that are in federal litigation to go to trial.

First Federal Trial Involving Roundup

federal roundup lawsuitThis lawsuit involves a California man who claims that his long-term exposure to Roundup resulted in him receiving large B-cell non-Hodgkins lymphoma. His exposure stems from using Roundup to control poison oak and weed growth on his property since the 1980s.

In my mind, the biggest update in the Roundup lawsuit is that their expected settlement value keeps rising.  Here is what else is happening.

$289 Million Verdict Update

roundup lawsuitDuring a hearing on October 24th after the whopping $289 million verdict against Monsanto,  a California trial judge issued a ruling reducing the verdict.  This case, as you probably know if you are reading this, involved a man who was diagnosed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma a couple of years after using Roundup several times a day while on the job as a school groundskeeper.  The judge reduced what was previously a $289 million settlement to $49 million. They reduced the punitive damages to match the compensatory damages.

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