The pharmaceutical giant agreed to set up a $2 billion fund to compensate victims who claim that the glyphosate in the popular weed killer caused their cancer. But not everyone thinks this settlement is a good idea.
Lawyers for Bayer, which recently purchased Roundup manufacturer Monsanto, proposed the settlement fund in February 2021, after California U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria rejected a prior proposal. In contesting the move, attorney Gerard Singleton says the fund sets a dangerous precedent, largely because there are strings attached. These strings include an opt-out provision and a punitive damages limit. “This is not the direction we want the civil justice system to go,” he said. “There is no scenario under which this is good for plaintiffs,” he added. This settlement covers future claims. It is separate from an $11 billion deal to settle current claims.
In defense of the proposal, Bayer’s lawyers, who stand to earn about $170 million, said the trust fund “provides significant and urgently-needed outreach, education, healthcare access, and compensation benefits.”
Trust Fund Procedure
Every trust fund operates a bit differently. However, most have a fund manager who evaluates claims and decides how much to pay each victim. Additionally, even if the defendant sets up a trust find, most victims have other legal options. More on that below.
These additional options are important, because frequently, the numbers don’t add up. The proposed terms would cap claims at $200,000. The lifetime medical bills for cancer patients often far exceed this amount. Other economic losses, mostly lost wages and transportation expenses, are almost as high as the medical bills. So, in many cases, the award would not fairly compensate victims.
That’s assuming the fund manager authorizes the maximum amount. These managers are usually stingy. When the money runs out, they are out of a job. So, they usually try to make the money last as long as possible. Furthermore, the company likes to hold onto as much money as possible as long as possible. Even six or seven percent interest on a $2 billion deposit is an awful lot of money.
All that being said, the news is not all bad. Trust fund victim/plaintiffs must only present prima facie claims. They do not need to worry about rebutting legal defenses or undermining the defendant’s experts. These “experts” routinely testify that the most dangerous substances on earth are as safe as mother’s milk.
Furthermore, cancer survival rates have gone up a lot since the 1990s. If doctors promptly and properly diagnose cancer, one or two rounds of treatments often send the disease into remission. If that happens, the staggering costs usually drop to more reasonable levels.
Bringing a Court Claim
If the proposed trust fund settlement does not fairly compensate you, or you begin your claim after the four-year window closes, you have legal options.
Kentucky law sometimes limits the amount of punitive damages in such claims. But it usually does not limit the amount of compensatory damages. So, most victims are entitled to get all their medical bills and other economic damages paid, as opposed to some of them.
Additional compensation is also available for noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Trust fund applicants are usually ineligible for such compensation, especially considering the damages cap.
In a products liability claim, compensation usually depends on evidence. A Lexington personal injury lawyer must show a link between Roundup and cancer. As mentioned, this link is often difficult to establish. However, the burden of proof is only a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not. So, a little proof goes a long way.
Post-four-year claims usually involved the delayed discovery rule. This rule extends the statute of limitations, which is normally one year in a Kentucky defective products claim.
Assume Charles sees a doctor in 2021, complaining of fatigue, fever, trouble breathing, and swollen lymph nodes. Although these are classic Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma symptoms, the doctor does not properly diagnose Charles’ condition. That diagnosis does not come until 2022. Finally, in 2023, Charles comes across an article linking Roundup, which Charles used on his crops, to NHL.
The defendant would argue that the one-year statute of limitations clock started ticking in 2021. But it did not start running until 2023. That was when Charles discovered the full extent of his illness and connected his illness to Roundup exposure.
Roundup cancer exposure victims have several legal options. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Lexington, contact the Goode Law Office, PLLC. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters. #goodelawyers