ST. LOUIS – A trial in St. Louis over claims that an ingredient in the Roundup weed killer causes cancer will not resume, the St. Louis City Circuit Court has said.
The trial accusing Bayer, the de facto defendant following its multi-billion acquisition of St. Louis-headquartered Monsanto, began with jury selection two weeks ago.
Wade, et al, v. Monsanto was abruptly halted Jan. 24 as opening arguments were set to begin. Settlement talks continue between Bayer and lawyers representing an estimated 50,000 plaintiffs claiming a link between their cancer, mostly non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL), and their use of the glyphosate-containing Roundup.
On Monday, Circuit Judge Elizabeth Hogan stated that the trial "will not resume." It was previously indicated to the jury members and the media to be ready for a resumption Wednesday (Feb. 5). The court did not have any further information, including a timeline on any further action relating to the case.
The announcement follows the postponement last Friday of another trial in California where similar claims were due to be aired.
Speculation fostered by the postponement of the trials and news reports on negotiations suggest a deal is close to being sealed.
Over the weekend, Reuters reported two developments, including that Bayer is trying to press plaintiff lawyers on the issue of advertising for new clients and the issue of future claimants.
The other report, citing a German publication, was that Bayer is considering stopping retail sales of glyphosate to those applying the weed killer in their gardens but continuing to sell to farmers. Most of the plaintiffs who have served the company papers, estimated at around 50,000, are not farmers.
Bayer, under pressure from investors who have watched shares plummet since the $63 billion takeover in 2018, do want some guarantees that the number of litigants in the future will be limited if it agrees to a settlement. It is reported that the company is prepared to set aside up to $10 billion as part of the settlement.
Perry Weitz of Weitz & Luxenberg, one of the law firms representing thousands of litigants, told Reuters that a company "cannot ask a lawyer to enter an agreement to restrict his practice in the future."
He added that no “serious discussions about future cases" had taken place.
However, Michael Miller, of The Miller Firm, lead attorneys in the St. Louis case and with two other jury wins in California, told the same news organization that “it is possible, if done correctly, to manage the exposure to future claims."