Fresh off a fifth-in-a-row trial victory, Monsanto owner Bayer AG is rejecting a proposed “global resolution plan” put forward by plaintiffs’ lawyers as a last chance to try to settle tens of thousands of pending Roundup cancer claims before a wave of new trials get underway, newly filed court documents show.
The company stance comes at a pivotal point in the ongoing nationwide litigation involving plaintiffs who allege they developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) from exposure to Monsanto’s glyphosate-based weed killers, such as Roundup.
The group of law firms leading the cases in what is called “multidistrict litigation (MDL)” asked US District Court Judge Vince Chhabria to approve a plan that would set a 60-day window in which both sides would try to forge a final global settlement that would cover the claims of roughly 30,000 plaintiffs.
If no settlement can be reached, the plaintiffs’ firms want the judge to start the process of dissolving the MDL and clearing waves of cases to go to trial in the states where they originated.
The plaintiffs’ law firms say the current court-approved settlement process, which has been ongoing for two years, is too slow and ties plaintiffs into a mediation process that provides only low-ball settlement offers to plaintiffs while delaying trials.
“The offers made within the settlement program appear to be woefully inadequate. Thus, a substantial number of MDL cases remain unresolved by the settlement program, and it is highly unlikely that these cases will be settled absent global resolution or an imminent trial setting,” the plaintiffs’ firms said in a Sept. 1 court filing.
In opposing the proposal, Monsanto lawyers said the current MDL structure should be maintained and the mediation process kept in place. The company lawyers argued that disbanding the MDL and sending “thousands of current and future cases to district courts throughout this country” would “bring chaos to bear.”
The company lawyers said that the majority of cases to date have been resolved and keeping the MDL intact will allow resolutions to continue, “which benefits the litigants and the federal court system.”
“Monsanto does not wish to engage in Plaintiffs’ proposed global resolution plan and the proposed 60-day stay is unnecessary…” the company lawyers stated in the joint court filing. “Monsanto intends on defending itself in the litigation and will only consider resolving outstanding current cases and claims if it is strategically advantageous to do so.”
A case management hearing is scheduled in Chhabria’s court for Sept. 7.
By Carey Gillam