Bayer, the parent company of Monsanto, is in mediation to possibly settle thousands of Roundup lawsuits. But as Reuters reports, some legal experts are uncertain whether these cases can easily be resolved. They cite the potential for novel legal questions that could drag out settlements in the Roundup cases.
To date, Bayer has lost three major jury trials concerning Roundup. One of those was a $2 billion verdict out of California. Thousands of lawsuits are still pending nationwide that allege Roundup causes non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer. They claim that the active ingredient, glyphosate, is a carcinogen that is not safe for human exposure.
Bayer is interested in ending all litigation for a “financially reasonable” amount, according to Reuters. But the mediator, Ken Feinberg, says that mediation is in early stages and compensation has not yet been discussed.
Roundup lawsuits are different than ones involving consumer goods, drugs, and medical devices. When those cases are settled or go to trial, they often result in a warning label, recall, or discontinuance. As Reuters notes, these actions usually foreclose further lawsuits. The same has not yet happened to Roundup. Although Bayer is researching a possible replacement for glyphosate, the popular weedkiller remains on the market. Without a warning label, lawsuits will probably continue.
Lawyers for plaintiffs have insisted that any settlement includes a required cancer warning label on Roundup products. That’s a position that Monsanto has fiercely opposed, and they’ve been backed by the Environmental Protection Agency. On August 7, the EPA ordered California to remove its cancer warning label requirement for Roundup. The agency blasted the glyphosate warning as “a false and misleading statement.”
Another hindrance to settlement, Reuters says, is that non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma can take up to 10 years to develop. This means there is a high likelihood of more lawsuits emerging after a settlement is reached. Product liability settlements usually include a cut-off time for future lawsuits. They also have to be properly funded before the court will approve of them. Considering the number of potential future litigants, and the time involved to develop cancer symptoms, sufficient funding could be astronomical.
That doesn’t mean a settlement fund is necessarily out of the question, says Reuters. Bayer and the plaintiffs could establish a fund with properly defined criteria for eligible future claimants. If someone develops cancer or another disease in the future, and they meet the criteria, they may be compensated. This would settle the case, allowing victims to receive their damages and Bayer to avoid more lawsuits.
Another challenge, says Loyola Law School professor Adam Zimmerman, is that there is no “signature disease” associated with Roundup. An example of such a disease is mesothelioma, associated with the landmark asbestos lawsuits. The same is not present with respect to Roundup and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Several risk factors can cause a person to develop the disease. But medical experts agree there is no known cause of it. In addition to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, glyphosate has been linked to leukemia, breast cancer, B-cell lymphoma, and other rare cancers.
With so much uncertainty around the possibility of settlement, victims of Roundup exposure should take action to protect their rights. If you’ve developed the disease after extensive contact with Roundup, you may have the right to legal compensation. These may include:
- Medical costs, past and present
- Costs for future medical treatment
- Physical injuries
- Lost wages and lost earning capacity
- Damages from the inability to return to work
Representing Victims of Dangerous and Defective Products
At Rueb Stoller Daniel, we understand the challenges posed by lawsuits such as those involving Roundup. When corporations sell dangerous and defective products without regard for public safety, we fight for the rights of victims. Count on our experienced attorneys to demand the compensation to which you are entitled to your injuries. Call us today to get started on your case.