U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria is asking all California residents who filed a lawsuit in the state against Monsanto alleging its herbicide Roundup caused their cancer to notify him if their individual cases could be transferred to the Northern District of California in an effort to beef up the pool of bellwether candidates.
Nearly 900 cases are pending in the federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) against Monsanto. But since Judge Chhabria is presiding over the MDL, the first cases to go to trial must be filed in the Northern District. Currently, there are only four cases to choose from.
Judge Chhabria wants to schedule all four of those cases for trial on Feb. 25, with the understanding that only one will go to trial on that date and another on May 6. “But additional cases need to get into that group that would be candidates for May,” he said.
Those suing Monsanto allege that the glyphosate in the company’s weed killer is carcinogenic and those exposed are at risk for developing cancer. Plaintiffs say the company was aware of these risks but failed to warn consumers.
Monsanto, which was recently acquired by Bayer AG, argued that its pesticides are safe despite the World Health Organization listing glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”
Last month, school groundskeeper DeWayne “Lee” Johnson was awarded a landmark $289 million in damages after a jury found that his regular use of Roundup and Monsanto’s generic version, Ranger Pro, caused Johnson to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma.