“Science Day” on Link Between Roundup and Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma to be Scheduled

The U.S. District Judge recently assigned to preside over all federal Roundup lawsuits, which allege that exposure to the popular weedkiller caused users to develop non-Hodgkins lymphoma and other forms of cancer, has indicated that a “Science Day” will be scheduled to help educate the court about the underlying scientific issues that will be relevant to the cases.

A growing number of product liability lawsuits have been filed against Monsanto over the past year, alleging that the manufacturer failed to adequately warn farmers, landscapers, agricultural workers and other customers about the potential link between “>exposure Roundup and non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

The litigation emerged after the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified glyphosate contained in Roundup is a probable human carcinogen in March 2015, which has sparked world-wide debate about the safety of Roundup and other glyphosate-based weedkiller, and raised questions about why Monsanto failed to provide warnings or safety instructions with their popular product.

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Given the similar questions of fact and law presented in lawsuits filed in U.S. District Courts nationwide, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) established consolidated pretrial proceedings for all federal Roundup non-Hodgkins lymphoma cases in October 2016, centralizing the claims before U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in the Northern District of California to reduce duplicative discovery, prevent conflicting rulings and serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the courts.

In a pretrial order (PDF) issued on November 23, Judge Chhabria called for the parties to submit a joint case management statement by December 16, which is to include a proposed protocol for a “Science Day,” which is expected to be scheduled during the next conference with the parties on December 21.

In complex product liability litigation, where a large number of claims have been brought alleging that individuals suffered similar injuries or medical issues as a result of the same product, it is not uncommon for the Court to schedule such scientific presentations, which are designed to allow the parties to explain issues that will come up in the case in a non-adversarial setting, which are typically not on the record or subject to cross-examination.

As part of the coordinated pretrial proceedings in the MDL, 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, before addressing case-specific issues about whether Roundup caused cancer for each individual plaintiff.

There are currently only a few dozen cases pending in the MDL before Judge Chhabria. However, as Roundup cancer lawyers continue to review and file claims for farmers, gardeners, landscapers and other agricultural workers diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma following exposure to the weedkiller, it is ultimately expected that hundreds, if not thousands, of lawsuits will be filed over the coming months and years.

Following resolution of any motions to dismiss based on general causation, if a Roundup settlement or other 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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