August 1, 2016 — Monsanto is asking federal judges to centralize a growing number of Roundup lawsuits into a Multi-District Litigation (MDL) in one court.
Monsanto requested the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, where at least three cases have already been filed. Monsanto is facing at least 21 lawsuits involving Roundup in 14 district courts, all involving non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Plaintiff’s attorneys filed the motion (PDF) to transfer on July 22, alleging that Roundup causes non-Hodgkin lymphoma at certain exposure levels. Monsanto is accused of failing to warn about the risk.
The first lawsuits were filed last year, soon after the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) deemed Roundup a “probable human carcinogen” based on several studies linking it to lymphoma.
The plaintiffs include agricultural workers, farmers, and people who routinely sprayed Roundup to control weeds in their yard.
Like a class action, the MDL process has many advantages — such as improving convenience, avoiding conflicting pre-trial rulings, and allowing parties to coordinate discovery, trials, and settlements. Unlike a class action, individual lawsuits in an MDL remain independent.
Lawyers want the MDL in Illinois because its central location is convenient and “no other forum has a stronger interest” in the litigation.
Illinois was the largest producer of soybeans and the second largest producer of corn in the United States. Monsanto has genetically engineered corn and soybean seeds to resist Roundup, allowing farmers to spray massive amounts of the weed-killer on entire fields. Nearly every acre of soybeans and more than 75% of corn grown in the United States is sprayed with Roundup.
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