St. Louis Roundup trial is off; parties settle

by Carey Gillam

Just days before the scheduled start of what would have been the first Roundup cancer trial to take place in St. Louis, the former hometown of Monsanto Co., the three plaintiffs in the case on Wednesday agreed to accept a settlement offer from the maker of Roundup herbicide, which the plaintiffs alleged caused them each to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

The judge had agreed to allow Courtroom View Network to livestream the trial.

A previous trial in St. Louis was cancelled just hours before it was scheduled to begin in February 2020, also because of a settlement agreement. Since then, Monsanto’s German owner, Bayer AG, has negotiated more than $11 billion in settlements with law firms representing more than 100,000 plaintiffs around the U.S. who allege exposure to Monsanto’s weed killing chemicals caused them to develop cancer.

But not all plaintiffs have agreed to settlement offers, leading to a line-up of many upcoming trials, including one now set for May in Kansas City.

The St. Louis case that settled this week was to focus on the complaints of three individuals: Robert Bird, an Iowa man who sprayed Roundup products routinely on a tree farm; Blake Buchan, a 39-year-old Georgia man who used Monsanto’s products to spray fence lines and other areas of two properties he maintained; and Ozie Parker, also of Georgia, who grew up helping out on his family farm, mixing and spraying Roundup weed killers on hundreds of acres for many years.

Their claims, like those of the other plaintiffs, allege that Monsanto herbicides made with a chemical called glyphosate cause non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and that Monsanto had long known about, and covered up, the risks of its products.

Monsanto and Bayer have denied the claims and cite regulatory approvals in defense of the products.

The first three cases to go to trial went badly for Monsanto and Bayer as outraged juries awarded over $2.3 billion in damages to four plaintiffs. The damages were later lowered but the jury findings in favor of plaintiffs were upheld on appeals.

Juries in the most recent two cases to go to trial found in favor of Monsanto.

The Kansas City case, if it is not settled, is to feature the in-person testimony of former Monsanto chairman Hugh Grant, a situation Monsanto lawyer have sought to avoid.