On June 14, U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria, who oversees all federal Roundup lawsuits in the Northern District of California, identified dozens of cases in four different states to be prepared for remand and individual trial dates. Remanding cases refers to higher courts sending cases to lower courts so the lower courts will take action based on the orders of the higher court.
Earlier this year after the first federal bellwether trial ended in a $80 million reward for a California Roundup victim, Judge Chhabria requested the parties to come up with plans for remanding cases back to U.S. District Courts across the nation. This step was taken in case the parties are unable to negotiate and reach a settlement for the thousands of Roundup cases currently pending in the federal courts, thereby resolving the litigation.
As of June 2019, about 15,000 product liability lawsuits have been filed against Bayer’s subsidiary Monsanto Company, claims spanning across the nation. Most of the lawsuits have been filed by farmers, groundskeepers, homeowners, and other consumers diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after being exposed to Roundup weedkiller for an extended period of time.
Based on submitted proposals on how to coordinate the remand of claims, Judge Chhabria recently decided the first two waves of claims will contain of cases from one state chosen by the plaintiffs, and the claims of one state chosen by Monsanto Company. Judge Chhabria’s pretrial order selected 17 claims from California district courts (chosen by the plaintiffs) and five claims from the Nebraska district (chosen by Monsanto) to undergo case-specific discovery and discuss possibilities for a settlement for the remainder of 2019.
For the second wave (to potentially commence for remand in 2020) the plaintiffs selected cases from Illinois (30 cases total), and Monsanto selected seven cases from North Carolina. If settlement or resolution for the Roundup litigation is not achieved by the end of this year, the next federal trial will commence February 2020. Additionally, a large number of cases may be remanded back to the U.S. District Courts for individually scheduled trials if a settlement is not reached soon.
Monsanto Company still maintains their claim that the glyphosate in Roundup does not cause non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and refuses to make any settlement offers at this time. So, the early trial verdicts and Monsanto’s unwillingness to make a settlement creates additional pressure for individual trials to finally reach a jury, especially so plaintiffs with steadily worsening health can have their shot at justice.