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Many California agricultural workers have been exposed to a pesticide known as Roundup, and some of them may develop cancers. These cancer cases can then become continuous trauma claims under workers’ compensation law.

Thousands of Roundup tort cases are pending in civil courts in several states. A favorable outcome will likely support subrogation in the decades ahead for these claims.

Monsanto Company manufactures Roundup, a pesticide with the active ingredient glyphosate. Bayer AG acquired the agrochemical company in a multibillion-dollar merger in 2018.

Bayer to date has lost several U.S. jury trials in the Roundup litigation, with juries in California awarding multi-million dollar awards. In a recent California case, the jury returned a verdict in favor of plaintiff Edwin Hardeman, awarding him $5,267,634.10 in compensatory damages and $75 million in punitive damages. The district court reduced the jury’s punitive damages award to $20 million. This May, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the a district court result in the published case of Edwin Hardeman v Monsanto Company.

These bellwether cases led up to attorneys for certain individual plaintiffs in the Multi District Litigation pending in Northern California, negotiating a class action settlement with Monsanto that would cover potential future lawsuits. Last February, Bayer announced it had reached a $2 billion settlement resolving outstanding and future legal issues). The proposed compensation would only have been considered for those who develop non-Hodgkins lymphoma within four years of settlement.

Attorneys representing cancer victims objected to the proposed settlement earlier this month and, ultimately, Judge Vince Chhabria agreed with them. In his newly issued opinion, Chhabria said Bayer’s proposed settlement was “clearly unreasonable” with “glaring flaws” that “vastly overstated” the potential benefits to future cancer victims from Roundup, particularly those who have not yet been diagnosed.

Judge Chhabria added “This is not a situation where the defendant is at risk of going bankrupt, such that only the first set of plaintiffs will be able to recover. Bayer (which recently acquired Monsanto) is a massive, wealthy company, and it continues to make money specifically from Roundup sales.”

“Nor is there any indication that the company will cease its efforts to settle cases. As recently as last week, Bayer stated publicly that it remains committed to settling Monsanto’s Roundup litigation. This is not surprising because the alternative to settling – continuing to lose trials left and right – is not attractive.”

In 2019, Chhabria oversaw the first federal trial on Edwin Hardeman’s claims that Monsanto sold Roundup without a warning label, after which a jury awarded Hardeman $75 million in punitive damages after finding years of Roundup use likely caused his non-Hodgkin lymphoma.