Centralization Sought for Roundup Lawsuits Filed in New Jersey State Court

Request to transfer all Roundup lawsuits in New Jersey to one judge for pretrial proceedings comes as Monsanto continues to face a growing number of non-Hodgkins lymphoma claims and massive jury verdicts nationwide

A group of plaintiffs have filed a request to have all Roundup lawsuits over non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma injuries filed in New Jersey state courts consolidated before one judge, for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings, as part of a multicounty litigation (MCL).

Over the past eight years, more than 120,000 Roundup lawsuits have been filed throughout the U.S., each raising similar allegations that users were not adequately warned about the risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma from the weed killer, either when using the product in an agricultural setting or around the home.

The litigation emerged in 2015, when the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) decided to classify glyphosate in Roundup as a probable cancer-causing agent. However, even after resolving tens of thousands of cases, Bayer and Monsanto continue to face a steady stream of jury trials, particularly in U.S. state courts, including California and Missouri, involving plaintiffs who rejected settlement offers. In addition, lawyers continue to file new Roundup non-Hodgkins lymphoma lawsuits as former users continue to be diagnosed with cancer.

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New Jersey Roundup Lawsuit MCL

In late January, 10 plaintiffs filed a request with the Administrative Director of Courts for New Jersey, calling for all Roundup cases filed in that state involving non-Hodgkins lymphoma to be designated as a multi-county litigation (MCL). The motion calls for the cases to be coordinated and centralized for pretrial proceedings in Atlantic County.

The plaintiffs argue that centralization will reduce duplicative discovery into common issues in the cases, avoid conflicting pretrial schedules from different judges and serve the convenience of the common parties, witnesses and the judicial system.

The New Jersey Administrative Director of Courts issued a call for comments days later, which parties can submit until Monday, March 4, 2024. The New Jersey Supreme Court will then take the comments into consideration when deciding whether to create a New Jersey Roundup MCL.

If consolidated before one judge, the New Jersey cases would work like the federal MDL, but at the state-court level only. The appointed judge would preside over discovery into common issues that apply to all claims, and likely establish a “bellwether” process where a small group of representative claims are prepared for early trial dates, to help the parties gauge how juries are likely to respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout other claims.

$332 Million California Roundup Lawsuit Verdict Upheld, But Reduced

The call for consolidation in New Jersey comes amid a slew of recent Roundup verdicts in favor of plaintiffs nationwide, including the largest Roundup lawsuit verdict to date, $2.2 billion, handed down by a Pennsylvania state court jury late last month. That verdict was preceded by a $1.5 billion verdict in November 2023, and after a number of others plaintiff victories last year.

Just this week, a California judge upheld a verdict that resulted in a $332 million Roundup jury award in October, involving a lawsuit filed by a former land surveyor who was diagnosed with cancer. However, while rejecting Monsanto and Bayer’s request for a new trial, Judge Kevin Enright, in San Diego, reduced the verdict to $28 million, deeming the $325 million in punitive damages the jury determined Monsanto should have to pay, on top of $7 million in compensatory damages, to be excessive.

Most of the U.S. cases are currently pending in Missouri state court, where Monsanto’s U.S. headquarters are located and it remains a major employer.

In addition to the state court litigation, hundreds of claims are currently centralized in the federal court system before U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in the Northern District of California, where several large waves of claims are being prepared for remand to different federal district court for trial.

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