Mediation Fails in Roundup Lawsuits

| Dec 3, 2020 | Car Accidents, Injuries, Products Liability

Shortly after a mediator claimed that the two sides had made “substantial progress” toward a settlement, talks suddenly collapsed, meaning that litigation could resume.

At an October 2020 hearing, federal mediator Kenneth Feinberg, who successfully mediated a major 9/11 victims compensation claim and a 2010 Gulf oil spill claim, said the parties were making “substantial progress” toward a full settlement of all Roundup claims. “It’s just a question of when and how quickly they’ll get resolved,” he predicted. Bayer, Monstanto’s parent company, had already agreed to pay $12 billion to resolve about a third of the Roundup actions. But the November 2 deadline came and went. As a result, California U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria said the Roundup litigation would resume. A settlement in this case would not apply to the tens of thousands of Roundup suits pending in state courts throughout the country.

Bayer lost three bellwether trials in 2018 and 2019. Additionally, the California Supreme Court recently declined to hear a key appeal.

Roundup Claims

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup. Especially when combined with genetically-altered seeds, glyphosate is one of the most effective herbicides in the world. This chemical is also one of the most dangerous cancer-causing agents in the world.

Generally, the surfactants in Roundup, as opposed to the glyphosate itself, is the most dangerous part of this chemical. Surfactants are additives which do things like force the glyphosate to cling to leaves. As a result, glyphosate molecules also cling to the human body. That impact multiples the effects of the glyphosate.

Most of the 125,000 lawsuits against Roundup either claim that the product itself was dangerous or that Monsanto failed to warn consumers about the elevated cancer risk.

In either case, damages in a Roundup claim usually include compensatory damages, such as medical bill payment, and punitive damages. These additional damages punish companies like Monsanto for their negligence and deter future misconduct. In other words, these damages force companies like Monsanto to be more careful and put people before profits.

Benefits of Mediation

Mediation is the preferred litigation alternative in most situations. Sometimes, judges order parties to attend mediation. Other times, the parties go to mediation voluntarily.

Family law mediation, like divorce mediation, is almost always successful. These parties usually agree on broad principles, like custody decisions should be in the child’s best interests, but they disagree on the specifics. 

Civil law mediation is usually less successful. That’s especially true in situations like Roundup claims, wherein the parties disagree sharply about almost every major issue in the case.

Nevertheless, in both personal injury and mass tort claims, mediation is often successful because of its benefits, which include:

  • Cost: In legal claims, time is money. Mediation ends the case early, which means the meter stops running sooner. Additionally, it is much less time-consuming to prepare for mediation, which is relatively brief and informal, than a trial, which is usually long and formal.
  • Control: Many individuals do not readily accept decisions which a judge or jury seemingly dictated. Mediation between the parties gives them almost complete control over the outcome. That control is especially important in family law cases, because motions to modify and enforce are quite expensive.
  • Civility: This aspect of mediation is also particularly important in family law claims, especially for a divorce with minor children. It is also important for the parties in civil claims to end on relatively good terms. Money damages only go so far. Money does not erase bad feelings.

In a complex mass tort claim, mediation might last several weeks. But in a personal injury claim, mediation usually lasts a few hours.

Other Litigation Alternatives

Trials are usually not the best way to resolve disputes. Emotional courtroom showdowns always look good on TV, but the real world is much different. But mediation is not always a good idea, especially if the parties are especially at odds or miles apart in terms of a settlement figure. Fortunately, Lexington personal injury attorneys have some other options.

Mini-trials are often an effective litigation alternative. Although they are not supposed to do so, many jurors make up their minds following opening statements. So, in a mini-trial, attorneys deliver their opening arguments, and then jurors retire to consider their verdicts.

Partial trials exercise the same basic principle. For example, in a personal injury claim, the parties might agree on the measure of damages but dispute liability. So, a partial trial focuses only on contested issues. Our hypothetical jurors need not sit through medical testimony and cull through medical records.

Arbitration might be the most controversial trial alternative. In many ways, arbitration is like a trial without a jury. The arbiter acts as both judge and factfinder. The major difference is that arbitration is confidential. There is usually no court reporter and these proceedings are usually closed to the public. This privacy makes arbitration especially vexing in certain kinds of civil claims, such as whistleblower and sexual harassment claims.

Mediation is usually a good way for parties to solve their differences and avoid trial. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Lexington, contact the Goode Law Office, PLLC. Home, virtual, and after-hours visits are available.