Roundup MDL Judge Prods Monsanto To Settle Cases Earlier

Monsanto drew little sympathy from a California federal judge when company counsel complained about the burdens of Roundup weedkiller multidistrict litigation, with the court responding that Monsanto can hire more attorneys or settle cases earlier but that the MDL will be moving forward as planned.

A lawyer for the Bayer AG subsidiary told U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria during a status conference that the volume of cases in the upcoming wave of the MDL over whether Roundup causes cancer would be “pretty burdensome” and would mean “an immense amount of workup” for Monsanto.

Monsanto attorney Rakesh Kilaru of Wilkinson Stekloff LLP said that burden “falls somewhat disproportionately on our side of the ledger” and asked Judge Chhabria to consider reducing the volume in the fourth wave of the Roundup MDL to no more than 150 cases instead of the proposed 200 to 300 cases.

Judge Chhabria said that while he understood Monsanto’s argument, he didn’t agree with it.

The judge said the reality is that the Roundup cases are getting fully worked up — including burdensome expert discovery — but don’t actually settle until they are on the verge of being sent to trial.

The fourth wave of the Roundup MDL will include cases from Michigan, Massachusetts, Ohio, Florida, Iowa, South Carolina and Arizona.

Earlier this year, Judge Chhabria refused to sign off on a $2 billion settlement to cover future claims that Roundup causes cancer, finding that while the deal did a lot for the company, it had “tenuous” benefits for class members and was “clearly unreasonable” for a group of Roundup users who have not yet developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

So far, Monsanto has lost all three Roundup bellwether trials.


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