Attorneys for Bayer have asked a California Superior Court Judge to split an upcoming trial involving Monsanto Roundup and its alleged association with cancer into two phases.
According to Reuters, the scheme would prevent the plaintiffs from presenting evidence of Monsanto’s purported efforts to manipulate public opinion and influence regulators during the trial’s first phase.
That evidence would come into play during the second phase. However, that phase would only commence if the jury hearing the Roundup lawsuit first finds that glyphosate caused the plaintiffs’ cancer.
The case scheduled for trial was filed on behalf of Alva and Alberta Pilliod. According to their complaint, the elderly 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.
Jury selection for the Pilloid’s Roundup lawsuit will begin on March 19th. The Court agreed to expedite the couple’s trial last fall, citing their advanced age and short life expectancy.
According to Reuters, the Court has scheduled a February 8th hearing on Bayer’s motion for a bifurcated trial.
Monsanto Roundup is the world’s most popular weed killer. However, in March 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) declared glyphosate – its active ingredient – a probable human carcinogen. The declaration followed an independent review that suggested occupational exposure to glyphosate was associated with an increased risk of cancer, especially non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and its various subtypes.
Monsanto vehemently denies these allegations, pointing out that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and some other regulators have declared glyphosate. However, Roundup lawsuit plaintiffs claim that Monsanto unduly influenced the EPA’s review and played a significant role in much of the research that disputes the IARC findings.
Just last week, Bayer lost its license to market Monsanto Roundup Pro 360 in France, after a Lyon court found that that the country’s environmental regulator failed to consider its health risks. Specifically, the court cited the alleged link between glyphosate and cancer.
Plaintiffs in the United States have filed more than 10,000 Roundup lawsuits for cancer allegedly caused by glyphosate. Bayer inherited the massive litigation when it acquired the agribusiness last year.
The nation’s first Monsanto Roundup lawsuit trial ended last August, when a San Francisco Superior Court jury awarded $289 million to a former California groundskeeper with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The award included $250 million in punitive damages, reflecting the juries finding that Monsanto acted with malice and oppression in its handling of glyphosate. However, the judge overseeing the case later slashed the punitive award by $210 million, purportedly to comply with California’s limits on such damages.
The first federal trial of a Monsanto Roundup lawsuit will begin on February 25th. That trial will take place in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, where hundreds of federally-filed glyphosate cancer claims were consolidated for the purpose of coordinated pretrial proceedings.
Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria approved Bayer’s motion to bifurcate the upcoming federal trial.