The federal court overseeing Monsanto Roundup lawsuits could convene its first bellwether trials in February 2019.
More than 8,000 people have filed suit in courts throughout the country accusing Monsanto of concealing the alleged link between glyphosate – the active ingredient in Roundup – and cancer, including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Though most of these cases are pending in state courts – especially California and Missouri – about 500 federally-filed Roundup lawsuits have been centralized in the U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey, for coordinated pretrial proceedings. Verdicts in the litigation’s bellwether trials could provide some insight into how other juries will rule in similar claims.
Previously, the court had directed plaintiffs and defendants to each submit proposed pretrial schedules that would allow Roundup bellwether trials to begin in February 2019 and May 2019.
Those proposals were submitted on September 20th. Plaintiffs have suggested a schedule in which initial disclosures for the 4 previously selected bellwether trial cases would be completed within the next month. General discovery in the first trial case would be completed by the end of this year.
Briefing on pretrial motions would occur early next year. Pretrial conferences would take place on February 11, 2019, allowing the first trial to begin on February 25th.
The defendants’ proposal details a similar schedule for the first trial. However, it also proposes that all other cases should be returned to their original court of filing for individual trials once full discovery concludes in the federal litigation.
Monsanto’s Roundup is the world’s most popular weed killer.
However, in 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) declared glyphosate a “probable human carcinogen”. In particular, the IARC review suggested a link between glyphosate exposure and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, including its various subtypes.
In August, a San Francisco Superior Court jury awarded $289 million to a former school groundskeeper who was exposed to Monsanto’s glyphosate-based weed killers, including Roundup, 20-to-30 timers per year during his career.
Dwayne Johnson, the 46-year-old plaintiff in that case, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2014 and is now considered terminal.
The case was the first Monsanto Roundup cancer lawsuit to go to trial anywhere in the United States. Bayer – which recently acquired Monsanto – is appealing the verdict.