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SAN FRANCISCO – A panel of judges has shut the door on an attempt by Bayer and its Monsanto subsidiary to quietly settle a group of lawsuits under terms that threatened to restrict much larger multidistrict litigation (MDL) over the herbicide Roundup, potentially affecting thousands of cancer victims and even those not yet diagnosed.
The Oct. 8 ruling by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation relates to a group of federal lawsuits focusing on Monsanto’s failure to warn consumers who simply purchased the products. But important terms of the settlement could potentially extend to lawsuits filed by cancer victims. In its order, the judicial panel transferred the lawsuits and the proposed settlement to U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in San Francisco, who presides over the larger cancer-related MDL. Judge Chhabria has twice rejected settlements proposed by Monsanto.
Trial lawyer Majed Nachawati of Dallas-based Fears Nachawati law firm, which represents thousands of individuals who have developed non-Hodgkins lymphoma after exposure to Roundup, called Monsanto’s action a cynical attempt to circumvent Judge Chhabria.
“Judge Chhabria has the experience and knowledge to handle these lawsuits fairly, and Monsanto is scared of that,” Mr. Nachawati said. “This gambit shows the lengths that this company will go to limit access to justice for those sickened by exposure to Roundup.”
The judicial order notes that defendants like Monsanto are bound by law to inform the panel about such “tag along” litigation and had not done so in this case. The judges ordered Monsanto to make sure the panel is aware of any other such cases.
To date, three bellwether jury trials have produced multimillion-dollar verdicts against Bayer AG (OTCMKTS: BAYZF) subsidiary Monsanto, finding that exposure to the glyphosate-based weedkiller is linked to cancer. All three verdicts have now been affirmed on appeal.
The multidistrict litigation is In re: Bayer Roundup Products Liability Litigation, case number 3:16-md-02741.
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