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December 23, 2020

UPDATE: Roundup Litigation to Resume Trials with Over Half of Cases Not Settled

Nearly 2,000 Cases Remain Unresolved in Roundup MDL

Pharmaceutical giant Bayer AG announced in June that they reached Roundup settlements to resolve around 75% of the weed killer cancer claims against them. However, with nearly 2,000 cases still unresolved in the Roundup federal multidistrict litigation (MDL), a judge ordered dozens of cases to resume trial preparations.

In recent years, thousands of product liability lawsuits have been filed over injuries caused by Roundup weed killer, the popular herbicide originally created by Monsanto Company. Studies uncovered Roundup’s active ingredient, glyphosate, is a carcinogen and can cause cancers including Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and lung cancer.

Earlier this year, Bayer, which now owns Monsanto, announced that Roundup settlements had been reached with over half of the cases in the Roundup litigation. In June 2020, the company agreed to pay over $10 billion to settle the majority of the 125,000 Roundup lawsuits filed against them. Each of these claims raises similar allegations that Monsanto failed to warn consumers that exposure to Roundup could cause injuries like Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

However, with no actual deals or settlements actually signed, the judge presiding over the Roundup litigation ordered for a group of cases to resume preparations for trial. Judge Vince Chhabria, who presides over the Roundup MDL in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, released a joint case management statement on December 2 ordering for the trial preparations to recommence.

Currently, there are 3,832 plaintiffs with pending cases in the Roundup weed killer MDL. Of those 3,832, only 1,989 remain unsettled. These cases were not subject to a finalized Master Settlement Agreement or a Term Sheet with plaintiffs’ lawyers.

“The parties remain actively engaged in ongoing settlement discussions and/or Monsanto is making contact with all of the counsel who represent these 1,989 (non-settled) plaintiffs,” Judge Chhabria indicated in the joint statement. “Monsanto has reached out to all law firms that have three or more unresolved cases and is in the process of gathering information about those cases in order to facilitate resolution.”

Judge Chhabria established a “bellwether” trial process to work towards a resolution of the Roundup litigation. As part of the bellwether process, parties prepare a group of representative cases for coordinated discovery and early trial dates. These early trials are not binding on the outcome of other cases, but they are closely watched by both parties to see how juries may react to certain evidence and testimony likely to be repeated throughout the litigation.

Judge Chhabria issued new modified schedules for preparing two sets of cases for trial. The first set includes cases originally filed in Illinois and North Carolina. The second set includes cases from Pennsylvania and Texas.

Judge Chhabria also set a deadline for parties to complete all fact discovery by January 15, 2021, for the Illinois and North Carolina cases. If additional settlements are not reached soon, Judge Chhabria may remand North Carolina and Illinois cases for individual trial dates in the last half of 2021.

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