In an order issued on December 3, U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria agreed to split an upcoming Roundup trial scheduled for February 25 into two phases as per Monsanto's request. The order issued restricts the lawyers representing plaintiff Edwin Hardeman from introducing evidence that the company allegedly attempted to influence the regulators and manipulate public opinion.
Hardeman, who used Roundup in his Sonoma County property, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2015. As per Judge Chhabria's order, the plaintiff lawyers would be allowed to furnish evidence of Monsanto's negligent conduct only if they prove glyphosate as the reason for Hardeman’s cancer in the first phase of the trial. This is to be followed by a second phase of the trial to determine Bayer's liability. Bayer maintains glyphosate is safe to use, denying it causes cancer in humans.
Hardeman’s attorneys initially opposed the proposals to bifurcate the trial on the grounds that their scientific evidence about glyphosate’s carcinogenic nature was linked to Monsanto's alleged unfair conduct. Bayer has asked the jury to avoid some of the causation evidence being presented during the first phase of the trial, specifically a finding by the World Health Organization’s cancer unit that glyphosate is "probably carcinogenic" as it has no basis in science. Judge Chhabria expressed that he would decide at which point during the trial the findings announced by the WHO must be introduced. The company has welcomed the court's decision to focus on the science factor in the first phase of the trial. The federal judge's order also applies to two other so-called bellwether trials which would help determine the range of damages and settlement options for similar cases pending in the litigation.
Bayer faces more than 9,300 Roundup lawsuits in state and federal courts across the country over allegations that it causes non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Roundup cancer lawsuits are consolidated into multidistrict litigation (MDL No. 2741; In re: Roundup Products Liability Litigation) in the Northern District of California.