Bayer’s Monsanto is facing thousands of lawsuits from plaintiffs claiming exposure to glyphosate gave them cancer. Last August, a jury handed Dewayne Johnson a huge victory when it awarded him millions of dollars for his claims. The verdict was perplexing because all the independent evidence available disproves a link between the herbicide and cancer.
But the next trial will be different.
U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria granted Monsanto’s motion to bifurcate the trial. That is, he agreed to split the trial into two phases. Plaintiff Edward Hardeman will first need to prove that glyphosate causes cancer. Only then will he be allowed to present evidence that Monsanto tried to interfere with regulations and intimidate scientists.
Will the tactic work? Only time will tell. Obviously the jury pool heard about Johnson’s case, probably has negative associations about Monsanto, and might even be afraid of Round-Up or GMOs. But at least the judge’s order tries to even the playing field just a little bit.
It’s incredibly likely that Johnson’s jury was swayed by his story, and Monsanto’s alleged misconduct. Hardeman’s attorneys have presented that same evidence to Judge Chhabria. And Judge Chhabria realized the statements were taken out of context and distorted. He understands that Hardeman’s legal team is manipulating the evidence to smear Monsanto and its employees. So he’s making Hardeman prove the most important part of his claim first: the science.
That’s likely to be a really high burden. Why? Because there isn’t evidence showing a link. Although IARC found there was a link, that controversial decision has be disputed by more credible sources. Multiple government agencies, scientific bodies, and regulators have reviewed the scientific research available and concluded glyphosate doesn’t cause cancer. Even the World Health Organization, which oversees IARC, concluded the evidence doesn’t show a link.
The trial is scheduled to begin at the end of February.