Three Roundup Lawsuits Cleared For Remand to Massachusetts Federal Court if Settlement Not Reached

Plaintiffs' expert witness testimony in three lawsuits was found to be "scientifically reasonable," clearing the way for the cases to be returned to the District of Massachusetts for trial.

The U.S. District Judge presiding over all coordinated pretrial proceedings in Roundup non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma lawsuits brought throughout the federal court system has rejected a motion to dismiss three lawsuits originally filed in the District of Massachusetts, clearing the way for the cases to be remanded for trial in about two weeks, if the parties fail to settle the claims.

Over the past nine years, Bayer and its Monsanto subsidiary have faced more than 167,000 lawsuits throughout the U.S., each raising similar allegations that users were not adequately warned about the risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma from Roundup, either when using the product in an agricultural setting or around the home.

The litigation emerged in 2015, when the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) decided to classify glyphosate in Roundup as a probable cancer-causing agent. However, even after paying more than $10 billion in Roundup settlements in recent years, Bayer and Monsanto have continued to face a steady stream of jury trials involving plaintiffs who rejected settlement offers, as well as new claims that continue to be filed as former users develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

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Currently, hundreds of claims are centralized in the federal court system before U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in the Northern District of California, where several large waves of claims are being prepared for remand to different federal district court for trial. Even more are filed in state courts nationwide, including Missouri, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and California, where a series of non-Hodgkins lymphoma lawsuits are already scheduled to go before juries in the coming months.

Effort to Dismiss Roundup Lawsuit Expert Witnesses Rejected

On May 2, Judge Chhabria issued a pretrial order (PDF), rejecting a motion by Monsanto to exclude the testimony of plaintiffs’ expert witnesses in three lawsuits that were originally filed in the District of Massachusetts.

Had the effort succeeded, the cases would have been left without a way to prove that Roundup exposure caused the plaintiffs’ illnesses and would have likely been dismissed. However, Judge Chhabria indicated Monsanto’s arguments against the expert witnesses did not hold water and that their contributions to the litigation were “scientifically reasonable.”

The decision affects lawsuits filed by Richard and Shirley Canning (PDF) and Gerald and Lynne Nelson (PDF) in June 2019, as well as a third case brought by Robert and Darya Cotter (PDF) in January 2020.

Richard Canning indicates that after using Roundup weed killers he developed B-cell type non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma involving the left neck in multiple lymph nodes, a T-cell/histiocyte rich large B-cell lymphoma involving the inferotemporal fossa and multiple dissected left neck nodes.

Gerald Nelson indicates that he was diagnosed with positive B-cell lymphoma consistent with chronic lymphocytic leukemia or small lymphocytic lymphoma, which are subtypes of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma following extensive use of Roundup.

Robert Cotter indicates that he was diagnosed with another sub-type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, known as mantle cell lymphoma, which was also caused by exposure to Roundup.

Each of the three plaintiffs intend to rely at trial on the testimony of Dr. Robert F. Herrick and Dr. D. Barry Boyd to establish the causal connection between their diagnosis of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma an Roundup.

Now that the motion to exclude the testimony has been rejected, Judge Chhabria indicates that the Court will issue a suggestion of remand for the cases to be returned to the District of Massachusetts in about two weeks if a Roundup settlement is not reached to resolve the claims.

May 2024 Roundup Lawsuits Update

The decision and potential remand of Roundup lawsuits come as people familiar with the company’s internal workings have indicated Bayer executives have reached out to law firms and advisors on how it could file for Roundup bankruptcy in a way that brings a halt to active litigation in the lawsuits and trials scheduled throughout 2024, as part of a plan to settle 50,000 remaining claims.

Even though Bayer is a multi-national corporation with billions in assets, it is exploring a controversial bankruptcy plan after the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals rejected arguments that all remaining Roundup claims should be preempted by federal law, allowing the litigation to continue moving forward for years to come.

In addition, Bayer has failed to establish that it can consistently defend the safety of the herbicide at trial, suffering a string of massive losses in state court trials over the past year, including the largest Roundup lawsuit verdict to date, $2.2 billion, handed down by a Pennsylvania state court jury in January. That verdict was preceded by a $1.5 billion verdict in November 2023, and after a slew of others plaintiff victories last year.

Unless the manufacturer is able to successfully force settlement of Roundup claims through the U.S. bankruptcy system, or increases the amount it is currently offering to settle remaining lawsuits, it is expected that Bayer will face years of trials in courts nationwide in the coming years.

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