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More Than 200 Roundup Lawsuits To Be Prepared For Trial in Fourth Wave of MDL Cases

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The U.S. District Judge presiding over all unresolved Roundup lawsuits pending throughout the federal court system has ordered that a “wave” of more than 200 cases be prepared for trial, as parties continue to negotiate potential settlements in individual claims.

Bayer and its Monsanto unit have faced more than 120,000 non-Hodgkins lymphoma (NHL) cases brought by former users of the controversial glyphosate-based weed killer, each raising similar allegations that information has been withheld from consumers about the risks associated with exposure to Roundup.

Following a string of massive losses in early Roundup trials throughout 2018 and 2019, Bayer announced last year it would be paying more than $10 billion in Roundup settlements to resolve claims. However, settlements have not materialized or been reached in many cases, and new Roundup NHL cases continue to be brought as former users learn that their diagnosis was the result of spraying the weed killer.

In a court order (PDF) issued on August 26, U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria, overseeing the cases as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation, in the Northern District of California, announced the schedule for preparing about 220 “wave 4” cases for trial, including complaints originally transferred from District Courts in Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio and South Carolina.

Plaintiffs in this fourth wave must complete fact sheets within the next two weeks, providing certain information about their claims, as well as certain medical records that must be turned over to counsel for Bayer and Monsanto. Fact discovery in the cases will then be completed by March 11, 2022; plaintiffs’ expert reports are due by March 25, 2022; Monsanto’s expert reports are due by April 25, 2022, and the close of expert discovery is scheduled for May 25, 2022.

The schedule calls for Daubert and summary judgment briefs to be filed by June 8, 2022, and any necessary Daubert hearing will be held on August 22, 2022. After any pretrial rulings issued by Judge Chhabria in the MDL, each of the cases may be remanded back to the U.S. District Courts where they originated for separate trials that may begin in late 2022 or early 2023.

As Bayer continues to work to settle claims, the company announced earlier this month that it is setting aside an additional $4.5 billion in reserves to cover the costs of the litigation and potentially add to the amounts being discussed in ongoing negotiations. Judge Chhabria has also ordered plaintiffs to participate in a Roundup mediation program, where each plaintiff will receive an offer to settle their non-Hodgkins lymphoma case. However, the Court has maintained that it will continue preparations for claims to go to trial, in the event plaintiffs continue to reject settlement offers made by Bayer and Monsanto.

It is expected that the companies will continue to face Roundup litigation for years, as prior users continue to develop non-Hodgkins lymphoma. As part of its effort to limit future liability, Bayer also recently announced plans to remove the active ingredient glyphosate from Roundup weed killers sold to U.S. residential customers by 2023, noting that the vast majority of Roundup cancer claims have come from U.S. residential users. However, glyphosate would still be used in products sold to agricultural businesses and farmers, and in product sold in other parts of the world, Bayer officials said.

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