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Roundup Class Action Settlement Results in $21.5M Payment by Monsanto

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Monsanto has agreed to pay $21.5 million to settle a Roundup class action lawsuit filed on behalf of consumers who say the company misled them about how many gallons of weed killer they were able to make from Roundup Concentrates. 

The class action lawsuits were filed by Elisabeth Martin, Joshua Rawa and others over the last couple years, on behalf of consumers who bought concentrated versions of the popular weedkiller since April 5, 2012.

According to the allegations raised in the Roundup Concentrate lawsuits, the weed killer products were only capable of making half of the number of gallons advertised when they were diluted to the strength required for uses advertised on the labels. The true amount that could be mixed was sealed underneath a back panel label page, which was taped down to the bottle, so consumers only found out that they could only make half of what was advertised if they purchased it, the lawsuit claims.

The first class action lawsuit was filed by Martin in October 2016. Another complaint (PDF) was filed by Rawa in April 2017. Their claims and others were consolidated for pretrial proceedings last year in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.

On May 25, the court released a memorandum and order (PDF), which granted final approval for a $21.5 million Roundup class action settlement, indicating that there are 70,628 validated claims.

The settlement comes after Monsanto failed in efforts to get the cases dismissed, and after the court agreed to class certification. Monsanto has changed its labeling in response to the litigation, the court indicated.

Roundup Cancer Lawsuits

The settlement comes amid a growing number of Roundup injury lawsuits filed by individuals nationwide, each of which allege that long-term exposure to the weed killer and its active ingredient, glyphosate, resulted in non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and similar cancers.

Internal documents produced during the discovery process have suggested that the manufacturer knew about the cancer risks associated with the Roundup active ingredients for years.

These complaints are centralized as part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL) pending before U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in the Northern District of California. The litigation has been consolidated for pretrial proceedings to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues, prevent conflicting rulings from different Courts and to serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the judicial system.

As part of the coordinated MDL proceedings, Judge Chhabria has previously determined that the Roundup litigation will be bifurcated, first addressing general causation about the link between the widely used weedkiller and non-Hodgkins lymphoma, as well as other forms of cancer, before addressing case-specific issues about whether Roundup caused cancer for each individual plaintiff.

Following resolution of any motions to dismiss based on general causation, if a Roundup non-Hodgkins lymphoma settlements or another resolution for the litigation is not reached during the first phase of discovery, it is expected that Judge Chhabria will establish a bellwether process, where a small group of cases will be prepared for early trial dates to help gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout the lawsuits.

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Photo Courtesy of Mike Mozart via Flickr Creative Commons

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