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As parties continue to work to finalize Roundup settlements in thousands of cases pending nationwide, and the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause disruptions throughout the judicial system, the U.S. District judge presiding over the federal litigation has agreed to stay the proceedings until November 2.
Bayer and its Monsanto subsidiary currently face more than 125,000 claims brought by former users of the weed killer who have been diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma and other injuries, each raising similar allegations claiming consumers were not adequately warned about the risks associated with exposure to glyphosate and other ingredients.
Last month, Bayer announced a settlement agreement which would include payments of $8.8 billion to $9.6 billion to resolve about two-thirds of the current cases pending nationwide. However, individual plaintiffs are still evaluating whether to accept their offers and few, if any, cases have actually dismissed.
In a pretrial order (PDF) issued this week, U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria directed parties involved in the federal Roundup litigation to file a statement by July 30, which identifies which cases pending in the federal court system have been settled and how dismissals will be filed for these claims.
Prior to the announced settlement, Judge Chhabria ordered several large “waves” of Roundup cases be prepared for remand to U.S. District Courts nationwide, where they will be set for individual trial dates.
“To facilitate the process of wrapping up the cases for which settlement agreements have been reached, all cases in the MDL are stayed until November 2, 2020, and all litigation deadlines are vacated,” Judge Chhabria wrote in the order issued July 21. “Under normal circumstances, the Court would be reluctant to issue a stay of this kind because any plaintiffs who opted not to settle would have the right to continue proceeding towards trial. But because the pandemic has delayed all litigation substantially, and because it is unclear when civil trials can resume, the Court’s and the parties’ time is best spent on effectuating the settlements reached in the MDL.”
Settlement negotiations heated up earlier this year, as a series of additional cases were set to go to trial nationwide throughout 2020. However, the settlements announced by Bayer still leave about 25,000 claim unresolved, and the company is likely to face a steady flow of future lawsuits over failure to warn about the link between Roundup and non-Hodgkins lymphoma, as former users continue to be diagnosed with the disease in the future.
Estimates suggest Bayer will still faces billions in liability exposure, and with Roundup continuing to be sold without warning about the risk of cancer, the litigation could continue for years, or even decades.