Roundup Deal: Plaintiffs Raise Concerns; Judge Casts Doubt

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On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria, overseeing the Roundup multidistrict litigation docket, indicated that he might lift the stay on litigation after hearing concerns from plaintiffs' attorneys over the uncertainty of the more than $10 billion deal.

In June, the German chemical and pharmaceutical giant, Bayer, indicated that it would pay more than $10 billion to settle about 75% of the lawsuits claiming that its herbicide Roundup was the cause of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Following the announcement of the deal, which is managed by mediator Kenneth Feinberg, Judge Chhabria halted the multidistrict litigation for the settlement process.

In July, Judge Chhabria had raised concerns over one part of the deal, which includes a plan for handling future claims brought by the consumers who develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, after using the weedkiller. He indicated that he is skeptical of the propriety and fairness of the proposed settlement, and is tentatively inclined to deny the motion.

In the recent hearing, Judge Chhabria stated that he received several confidential letters alleging the manufacturer of reneging on its deal with the plaintiffs. After hearing arguments from both parties, he concluded that he would not lift the stay expressing his confidence in Feinberg’s ability to reach a resolution in 30 days. But he also noted that the parties should also start reworking on getting the litigation back on track as he won't extend the stay any further. The parties have been asked to be prepared by the next case management conference that is scheduled for September 24.

Currently, Bayer is facing more than 125,000 Roundup lawsuits, and the company has acknowledged the filing of 52,500 lawsuits. The lawsuits are consolidated under MDL No. 2741 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

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