A California judge has agreed to expedite the state’s second trial involving Monsanto’s popular Roundup weed killer, due to concerns over the plaintiffs’ health.
According to a complaint filed on behalf of Alva and Alberta Pilliod, the elderly California couple regularly used Monsanto Roundup between 1971 and 2011. Alva was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2011, while Alberta received the same diagnosis in 2015. The couple filed suit in 2017, alleging regular use of Roundup caused their cancers.
The Pilliod’s attorneys requested an expedited trial earlier this year, citing their short life expectancy and the potential for relapse.
Superior Court Judge Ioana Petrou granted the request on Thursday. According to Reuters, the Pilloid’s Monsanto Roundup lawsuit will go to trial on March 19, 2019.
Roundup is the world’s most popular weed killer.
In March 2015, however, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) designated glyphosate – the active ingredient in Roundup – a probable human carcinogen. The group acted after its independent review linked glyphosate exposure to an increased risk of cancer, especially non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and its various subtypes.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concluded last year that glyphosate likely did not cause cancer. However, plaintiffs pursuing Roundup lawsuits point to internal company documents that suggest Monsanto unduly influenced much the glyphosate research that contradicted the IARC findings, including studies reviewed by the EPA.
A prominent medical journal appeared to vindicate those claims last month, when it took the unusual step of publishing an “Expression of Concern” in regards to 5 major glyphosate studies that failed to find a link to cancer. According to the editor of Critical Reviews in Toxicology, Monsanto’s significant involvement wasn’t disclosed when the studies were initially published last year.
According to Bayer’s most recent Interim Report, approximately 9,300 Monsanto Roundup lawsuits were pending in courts throughout the United States as of October 31st.
Bayer lost the nation’s first trial involving Monsanto Roundup and cancer. That case concluded in August, when a San Francisco Superior Court jury unanimously awarded the plaintiff $289 million in compensatory and punitive damages.
The trial judge upheld the verdict last month. However, she also slashed the jury’s punitive damage award, reducing the total verdict to $78 million.
While plaintiff ultimately agreed to accept the judge’s decision, Bayer has promise to appeal the verdict.
The majority of Monsanto Roundup lawsuits have been filed in state courts in California, Missouri, and Delaware. Hundreds of similar claims are also pending in a centralized proceeding currently underway in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California.
Additional Roundup lawsuits will head to trial next year, including the first federal bellwether trial scheduled to begin in February.
The company strongly disputes any contention that glyphosate causes cancer and has promised to vigorously defend against the lawsuits. Earlier this month, however, Bayer’s CEO did suggest the company might consider a global settlement to resolve Monsanto Roundup lawsuits should the costs of the litigation become excessive.
Bayer’s share price is down 30% in the wake of the first Roundup cancer verdict.