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A judge in St. Louis is refusing to delay the start of a trial scheduled to begin in October, which is now expected to be the next case involving allegations that exposure to Roundup caused non-Hodgkins lymphoma to go before a jury.
Monsanto and its parent company, Bayer, face more than 18,400 Roundup lawsuits filed nationwide, each raising similar allegations that the manufacturer of the controversial weedkiller failed to adequately warn about the cancer risk associated with the glyphosate-based herbicide.
In the first three Roundup trials to go before juries, Monsanto was hit with massive losses, and Bayer is currently engaged in a court-ordered mediation process that is designed to explore a potential resolution for the litigation.
Following recent decisions to delay the start of a Roundup trial set to begin next week in St. Louis, and the extension of several key deadlines for dozens of Roundup bellwether claims being prepared for trial in the federal court system, there has been growing speculation that the manufacturer may be close to reaching a Roundup settlement agreement to resolve the cases.
According to a case management order (PDF) issued on August 9, Monsanto also tried to delay the start of a trial set to begin in October, arguing that discovery was incomplete. However, Judge Michael K. Mullen denied that motion, finding “that the parties have made substantial progress in completing discovery and that the discovery and motion practice outstanding does not impact the trial date nor does it interfere with the revised pretrial deadlines” in the case.
Therefore, the case remains set to go before a jury starting on October 15, in what would likely be the fourth Roundup trial in the U.S., and the first to go before a St. Louis jury, where most of the litigation is currently pending, since that is the location of Monsanto’s U.S. headquarters.
If the manufacturer fails to settle the Roundup litigation, additional trials are currently set to begin in January 2020 in St. Louis and February 2020 in the federal court system.
Bayer Roundup Mediation
Bayer made the controversial decision to acquire Monsanto last year, taking on all liability the company faced as a result of failure to warn about the cancer risks associated with Roundup.
Following final judgments ranging between $25 million and $87 million in the first three cases to trial, Bayer has faced increasing pressure from shareholders to resolve the claims and eliminate the uncertainty of jury trials.
Bayer’s CEO has indicated that the company is open to settling Roundup claims if the deal is reasonable and fair.
The manufacturer and plaintiffs attorneys are currently engaged in a mediation process, involving the prominent attorney Ken Feinberg, who has guided some of the largest settlements in high-profile litigation in recent years, including funds to pay claims related to the BP oil spill, Volkswagen emissions scandal, General Motors ignition switch recall, September 11th Victim Compensation fund and others.
Several experts indicate that Bayer will need to pay billions to compensate individuals diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma following exposure to Roundup, and the cumulative liability from thousands of individual jury trials may be substantially higher, since juries have consistently hit the company with large punitive damage awards after finding that Monsanto acted with reckless disregard for the health and safety of consumers for years.