A trial set to start next week over claims that Monsanto’s Roundup weed killers cause cancer has been postponed until at least next year, according to a judge’s ruling on Friday.
The trial would have been the first of its kind to take place in the St. Louis area, Monsanto’s hometown before the company sold to German pharmaceutical giant Bayer AG last year.
Two previously scheduled trials in St. Louis area were also postponed until next year. The status of the trial that had been due to start next week – Walter Winston, et al v. Monsanto – had already been in doubt for weeks but the delay was made official Friday:
“Whereas the parties in the above-captioned case have requested that the Court take the trial in the above-captioned case off calendar, it is hereby ORDERED that the trial, scheduled for october 15, 2019 will not begin as scheduled. Cause set for status on Feb 10, 2020 @ 9:00 a.m. SO ORDERED: JUDGE MICHAEL MULLEN.”
The Winston case has been unraveling a thread at a time over issues of venue. The case was filed in St. Louis City Court but last month Mullen, who is a St. Louis Circuit Court Judge, transferred all plaintiffs except Winston from the city court to St. Louis County. Lawyers for the plaintiffs then sought to have the trial take place in the county court on Oct. 15, a position Monsanto opposed. Last week, a judge in the county ruled against the plaintiffs bid for that trial date.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs are now asking for a trial date later this year or early next year. With the transfer of the 13 plaintiffs out of the Winston case in St. Louis City, the case in St. Louis County is now titled Kyle Chaplick, et al v. Monsanto.
“Monsanto’s repeated attempts to avoid the trial… should be rejected, and the case should be set for trial in 2019 or as soon thereafter as is practicable,”‘ the plaintiffs’ attorneys stated in a motion filed Oct. 3.
The 14 plaintiffs who were in the Winston case are among more than 18,000 people in the United States suing Monsanto claiming that exposure to the company’s glyphosate-based herbicides caused them to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma and that Monsanto hid the risks associated with its weed killers.
Three juries in three trials over similar claims have found in favor of plaintiffs and ordered large punitive damages against Monsanto.
Bayer and lawyers for the plaintiffs are engaged in discussions about a potential global settlement of the litigation. Bayer has been dealing with a depressed share price and disgruntled investors ever since the Aug. 10, 2018 jury decision in the first Roundup cancer trial. The jury awarded California groundskeeper Dewayne “Lee” Johnson $289 million and found that Monsanto acted with malice in suppressing information about the risks of its herbicides.