Roundup cancer suits filed nationwide were centralized in one California court Oct. 4, 2016. The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation in California’s Northern District will now handle some 37 Roundup cancer lawsuits filed against Monsanto so far.
Lawsuits say Monsanto Failed to Warn
Roundup maker Monsanto faces claims in 21 districts to date. The cases all charge that Roundup, a widely used poison that contains glyphosate as its most active and notorious ingredient, can cause non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The lawsuits allege Monsanto failed to warn people and regulators about Roundup’s risks. Law 360 and other outlets report those cases have all survived the motion to dismiss phase.
Since late July 2016, the plaintiffs have been urging the JPML to centralize the Roundup lawsuits in California, Illinois, Hawaii or Louisiana. The panel obliged October 4 by centralizing in California’s Northern District. That court was already the site of Roundup lawsuits filed by Edward Hardeman on Feb. 1, 2016, and Elaine Stevick on April 29, 2016.
The Hardeman and Stevick lawsuits are two of the earliest-filed against Monsanto. Both suits are far along, said the JPML on Oct. 4. In granting MDL status at the site, the court said the Northern District is convenient and accessible for all parties. Furthermore, the panel said that transfer there will give U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria (“a skilled jurist,” according to the panel), his first chance to preside over an MDL (Law 360).
Monsanto fought Centralization
Monsanto had fought the MDL court centralization. The pesticide giant from Missouri, recently acquired by war-criminal Bayer (if corporations are people, as Scalia and other justices ruled, why aren’t they prosecuted as such?), had argued that individualized facts of each Roundup user’s case – such as the nature of exposure, the formulation of Roundup to which each was exposed, and the specific type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma each developed – should override common factual issues in these cases.
The JPML acknowledged some individual factual issues, but said they failed to overcome the efficiency gained by centralization.
The JPML wrote: “Regardless of the particular formulation of Roundup at issue (all of which employ glyphosate as the active ingredient), or the nature of plaintiff’s exposure to glyphosate, all the actions entail an overarching query — whether glyphosate causes non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in persons exposed to it while using Roundup.
The panel added: “In any event, almost all personal injury litigation involves plaintiff-specific questions of causation and damages. Those differences are not an impediment to centralization when common questions of fact are multiple and complex, as they are here.”
Monsanto loses Judgment
Monsanto tried to have Mr. Hardeman’s lawsuit dismissed, but Judge Chhabria refused in April 2016. Mr. Hardeman claims his cancer comes from longtime use of Roundup. The judge flatly rejected Monsanto’s argument that Mr. Hardeman’s claim was preempted by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act.
Mr. Hardeman’s lawsuit filing appears to be the first of its kind. It beat by one day a similar lawsuit filed by Christine and Kenneth Sheppard in Hawaii federal court Feb. 2, 2016.
The Speppard’s case also prevaild over a Monsanto motion to dismiss on June 30, 2016. An Hawaii federal judge ruled then that the couple could proceed on their claims that Christina Sheppard’s non-Hodgkin lymphoma developed after years of agricultural exposure to Roundup. The judge likewise denied Monsanto’s argument that the claims were preempted by FIFRA.
Roundup Cancer Suits Centralized in California
The case is In Re: Roundup Products Liability Litigation, MDL number 2741, in the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation.