While their personal stories are different, all of these people accuse Monsanto, the world’s largest agrochemical company of producing an unsafe herbicide and then concealing evidence of its link to blood cancer. Their accusations are shocking. In recent court filings, plaintiffs even allege that Monsanto has infiltrated the Environmental Protection Agency.
The result of this alleged deception, plaintiffs claim, is that they and their families have suffered enormous hardships. Physical pain and debilitating weakness. Months or years of emotional trauma. Thousands of dollars in medical care and home health services, all while being unable to work. Some plaintiffs have lost their closest loved ones. Monsanto, they say, should have to pay.
Has Monsanto Settled Any Roundup Lawsuits Yet?
To date, no Roundup settlements have been reported. All signs suggest that Monsanto intends to defend against Roundup lawsuits vigorously.
In the US District Court for California, Northern Division, a federal court, as many as 300 lawsuits have been consolidated as a Multi-District Litigation (MDL). Most Roundup lawsuits filed in a federal court, regardless of their original jurisdiction, will likely be transferred to San Francisco and become part of this MDL. The Honorable Vince Chhabria has been selected to preside over the litigation.
The federal Roundup litigation consolidated in San Francisco is only the tip of the iceberg. Over 1,000 additional Roundup lawsuits are now proceeding in state courts, primarily courts in Delaware and Missouri. Monsanto was incorporated in Delaware and has its US headquarters in St. Louis.
How MDL Could Lead To Settlements
Designed to make large litigations more efficient, MDL brings similar lawsuits filed against the same defendant together for pre-trial proceedings. A group of plaintiffs’ attorneys, a Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee, is appointed to guide discovery, the evidence-gathering phase in which cancer patients and Monsanto exchange relevant information. This work is done in common, since all of the consolidated lawsuits share certain questions of fact in common.
Meanwhile, individual plaintiffs attorneys remain committed to their own clients, handling legal issues unique to their own client’s case. Monsanto could settle the lawsuits at any time; settlement, after all, is a matter of negotiation between plaintiffs and defendant. Nevertheless, it appears that the company has no intention to end this litigation right now. So what will happen next?
In theory, the purpose of Multi-District Litigation has been satisfied once all of the evidence has been gathered, the opponents have developed their cases fully and are prepared for trial. At this point, the lawsuits can be transferred back to their original courts for resolution. In practice, most MDL proceedings end through settlement in their court of consolidation.
Bellwether Trials Often Spur Settlement Negotiations
Most federal judges strongly encourage settlement, holding mandatory settlement conferences that take place parallel to other court proceedings. To spur these negotiations along, many MDL judges pick a few representative lawsuits and schedule them for trial. These are called “bellwether” trials and they are very real. Real jury. Real arguments. Real decision.
The point is to give plaintiffs and defendant an opportunity to see how their evidence and arguments hold up in front of real people. With a string of courtroom losses, defendants may have to change their strategy – perhaps settling all of the cases in one fell swoop becomes a more attractive option. Defense victories, on the other hand, could convince a defendant to fight each case at trial.
No matter the actual outcomes, the results of these bellwether trials will directly influence any ongoing settlement negotiations. After winning a trial, plaintiffs will gain significant leverage. The opposite would be true in the case of a plaintiff’s loss.
Learn More About Filing A Claim
The Roundup litigation is moving quickly. In California, Judge Chhabria has put particular emphasis on efficiency and speed, scheduling out major court dates well in advance. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma patients and families would do well to reach out to a product liability attorney as soon as possible. In many jurisdictions, state laws will restrict the amount of time patients have to file a Roundup lawsuit. Miss these important deadlines and you will lose the right to sue.
Don’t hesitate. To learn more about your legal options, contact our lawyers today for a free consultation. You can find information on case eligibility at no charge and no obligation. Better yet, our experienced attorneys offer their services on a contingency-fee basis – that means you pay nothing unless we secure compensation in your case. Call today to get started.