Roundup Litigation Status
After some initial trial wins for Bayer, the tide may be turning in favor of plaintiffs seeking compensation over the weed killer Roundup. Bayer maintains that active ingredient glyphosate is noncarcinogenic, but the company has already paid $11 billion in damages with 30,000 pending cases and more expected.
Roundup is a widely used weed killer produced by Monsanto, a company owned by Bayer. The first lawsuit alleging that Roundup causes cancer concluded in 2018. Since that time, plaintiffs have filed tens of thousands of lawsuits, and Bayer has already paid billions of dollars.
Bayer experienced successful outcomes in a string of trials from October 2021 to June 2022, including a Bayer win in the high-profile Shelton case. However, more recent developments in July and August 2022 indicate that the tide may be turning in favor of the plaintiffs.
July 2022 saw two new trials as part of the ongoing litigation against Roundup. As of August 2022, around 30,000 Roundup lawsuits are still pending, but victims continue to file lawsuits, hoping to gain compensation for cancer and other health consequences potentially caused by the chemical used in the weed killer.
Current Status of Roundup Litigation
The scale of ongoing Roundup litigation means that plaintiffs frequently file new cases as others close. Here are the most recent updates on Roundup litigation hearings.
Trial Begins in St. Louis
A new trial against Bayer for its product Roundup began in St. Louis, Missouri, on August 1, 2022.
The trial involves three plaintiffs who claim that Monsanto’s patented ingredient glyphosate was the cause of their lymphoma. The three plaintiffs in the St. Louis trial are in their 60s and 70s. Monsanto continues to maintain that Roundup does not cause cancer
Jury Rules in Favor of Bayer in St. Louis Trial
The jury sided with Bayer in the trial involving the three plaintiffs in their 60s and 70s. This was one in a string of six consecutive victories for Bayer as of November 9, 2022. However, Bayer has set aside $4.5 billion for Roundup settlements, an indication that the company is settling the strongest cases while taking weaker cases to trial for strategic reasons.
Appeal Granted in Major Case
On August 2, 2022, Monsanto petitioned the 11th Circuit regardings its recent appellate decision. This action concerns a long-running case involving Georgia plaintiff Dr. John Carson, who filed his initial lawsuit in 2017.
On July 12, 2022, the court granted an appeal to Carson. In the original case, Carson claimed that Bayer failed to warn consumers of the product’s dangers. The court overturned this case on the grounds that the EPA had approved the product’s label.
The appellate court made the July 2022 decision to overturn part of Carson’s trial verdict on the grounds that state regulations carry an excess of latitude and that the EPA registration process isn’t strict enough to represent the law.
This appeal opens the door to further appeals, as other cases around the country have taken the Carson ruling as a precedent regarding Monsanto’s failure to warn.
En Banc Hearing Scheduled for Case Involving Georgia Doctor
On December 19, 2022, the 11th Circuit granted Bayer’s request to set aside its previous ruling in favor of John Carson and review the case in an en banc rehearing. The en banc hearing will address whether policies set by federal agencies like the EPA can preempt state law. The hearing is scheduled for the week of June 12, 2023.
Bayer Warned to Reconsider Stance
July 4, 2022, brought another considerable blow to Bayer in the form of a unanimous Ninth Circuit panel publication advising the company that it should seriously reconsider its claim that Roundup is safe for humans and animals.
The publication points out that in approving the product, the EPA did not consider whether its contents had the potential to cause cancer.
Supreme Court Denies Bayer’s Request
In June 2022, the Supreme Court denied Bayer’s requests for appeals of two different previous cases: the Pilliod case and the Hardeman case. This denial comes as a blow to Bayer’s entire litigation strategy.
Bayer’s approach to winning the ongoing lawsuit, called the Five-Point Plan to Close the Roundup Litigation, hinged largely on achieving a Supreme Court appeal.
The company hoped that a Supreme Court ruling in its favor on the matter of Roundup labeling and the question of failure to warn would prevent further lawsuits at the state level. The denial of the claim leaves Bayer at the mercy of ongoing state-level lawsuits as it faces the risk of unpredictable outcomes.
Pennsylvania Finds Class-Action Workaround
In an interesting development, on June 4, 2022, a Philadelphia administrative judge ordered around 100 pending Roundup lawsuits gathered into a Pennsylvania class-action lawsuit.
Since Monsanto cannot be the defendant in a state-level case, the judge instead named Nouryon, a Pennsylvania-based chemical maker. The class action has attracted additional plaintiffs from outside the state.
As of May 2022, Bayer has paid approximately $11 billion in verdicts and settlements. However, recent developments, such as the Supreme Court’s appeals denial, the approved appeal of the Carson case and new official statements undermining EPA authority, all suggest that Bayer may be paying plaintiffs for some time to come.
Roundup Recall Planned for End of 2022
For several years, plaintiffs have accused Roundup of causing cancer, and the tens of thousands of Roundup lawsuits have already cost Bayer millions of dollars.
Yet throughout these legal proceedings, Monsanto has staunchly held to the stance that its key ingredient, glyphosate, does not cause cancer. To this effect, the company has yet to issue a recall of the product, costing it billions in lawsuits.
This is set to change by the end of 2022. Although there is not and has never been a Roundup recall based on the potential for glyphosate to cause cancer, Bayer announced in 2021 that it will stop selling Roundup containing glyphosate for residential use by 2023.
The company continues to maintain that the chemical does not cause cancer. Bayer stated that it based the decision solely on the desire to avoid further litigation.
This doesn’t mean that the well-known household name will disappear from garden center shelves; instead, Bayer plans to substitute glyphosate with an alternative active ingredient.
What is Roundup, and why is it at the center of litigation?
Roundup is a popular weed killer used in both commercial and residential settings. Monsanto developed the product in the 1970s. Its active ingredient is glyphosate, a chemical created and patented by Monsanto. This chemical lies at the center of thousands of lawsuits against Bayer, the company that now owns Monsanto.
The World Health Organization lists glyphosate as a “probable human carcinogen.” However, the EPA approved Monsanto’s use of glyphosate in Roundup. EPA labeling marks the product as safe for both people and animals.
Conflicting institutional attitudes toward glyphosate’s potential to cause harm, combined with a lack of conclusive long-term studies on the chemical, have led to a messy legal situation for Bayer.
Over the past several years, thousands of plaintiffs have come forward with the allegation that they developed cancer and other health conditions as a result of using Roundup.
So far, no study has conclusively proven that glyphosate causes cancer, although one study found that Roundup use could increase the risk of developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma by 41 percent. A large number of the plaintiffs who have come forward with claims against Bayer have received diagnoses of this form of cancer.
Who qualifies for filing a Roundup lawsuit?
Although tens of thousands of plaintiffs have already come forward, countless more will likely follow suit. Qualification for a Roundup lawsuit typically involves a diagnosis of non-Hodgkin lymphoma or some other form of cancer, combined with a history of Roundup exposure.
Litigators can establish proof of Roundup exposure through a combination of employment records, medical bills, receipts and bills of purchase.
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