Roundup Lawsuit Inches Closer to Supreme Court

by | Feb 11, 2022 | Injuries, Products Liability

In a move that signals possible interest in taking the case, the Justices asked the Biden Administration to weigh in on the ongoing Roundup/cancer dispute.

The specific case is Monsanto v. Hardeman, a matter from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. This court affirmed a $25 million judgement in favor of Hardeman. Originally, a jury awarded him $80 million. A judge reduced the amount. Hardeman said he used Roundup on a regular basis from around 1980 to 2012. Doctors diagnosed him with leukemia in 2015.

When the Supreme Court asked for the brief, Bayer’s share price increased 3 percent. The company also ordered its lawyers to pull out of settlement negotiations, since it “believes there are strong legal arguments to support Supreme Court review and reversal.” 

Roughly 100,000 Roundup cases are pending nationwide. Bayer has already agreed to set up a huge settlement fund that covers some of these matters.

Roundup Lawsuit Update

There is considerable evidence that glyphosate, Roundup’s active ingredient, is one of the world’s most dangerous carcinogens. There’s also evidence that this chemical is largely harmless. Courts are designed for such fact disputes. Neutral jurors listen to the evidence and make a decision. That’s how it works.

However, there are also some legal questions. One involves the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act of 1910. Bayer, Roundup’s manufacturer, argues that FIFA sets the standard for warning labels. Since the EPA doesn’t require a cancer warning label on glyphosate products, no state can pass contrary standards.

There’s an even more technical question about the qualifications of expert witnesses. Many Roundup claims come down to a case of dueling experts. A Supreme Court ruling could significantly help or hurt one side or the other.

How the Supreme Court Works

According to a 2016 poll, 10 percent of college graduates thought Judge Judy was on the Supreme Court. This widely-circulated headline is a bit misleading. 9.6 percent of respondents said Judith Sheindlin (Judge Judy’s real name) was on the Supreme Court. And, Judith Sheindlin is a Supreme Court-ish name. 

For the record, 62 percent of college graduates correctly identified Elena Kagen as one of the Supremes. 21 percent said Lawrence Warren Pierce, a completely made-up name, was on the Supreme Court. 5 percent said Presidential also-ran John Kerry was on the Court and 2 percent refused to answer.

Nevertheless, the results do indicate that many people don’t know much about the highest court in the land.

The Supremes have original jurisdiction over a handful of cases. However, appeals make up the vast majority of the Supreme Court’s docket. Statistically, the Justices only agree to hear about 2 percent of the appeals filed with the clerk. Usually, the case must involve a novel question of law, or there must be a split in the circuits.

As mentioned, the Roundup lawsuits involve an obscure provision of an obscure federal law. Only the Justices can decide if the issue is “novel” enough to merit an appeal.

Four or five times a year, the Justices review the writs of certiorari (appeals requests) that they receive. The biggest review conference, which is called the Long Conference, usually happens in August or September. The Justices usually review emergency requests, like injunctions and death penalty appeals, on a rolling basis.

Regardless of the conference time, the Court normally entertains an appeal if four Justices say they want to hear it.

The Supreme Court session always begins on the first Monday in October. Sessions end the following June. The Justices usually hear one or two oral arguments a week. After these arguments, the Justices informally meet to discuss the case.

It’s no secret that the Court is highly politicized. Four Justices are very conservative, four are very liberal, and there is one in the middle. Based on the outcome of this informal conference, either Chief Justice John Roberts or Senior Associate Justice Stephen Breyer usually asks a Justice to write a majority opinion.

Over the next few months, the authoring Justices circulate draft opinions, trying to get as many signatures as possible. Occasionally, all nine Justices agree. Generally, there is a majority opinion and a dissenting opinion. The majority opinion becomes the law of the land. The dissenting opinion sometimes has some good arguments that a Lexington personal injury lawyer can use in the future.

In the event of a tie vote, the lower court’s decision stays in place, but it does not become the law of the land.

Injury victims are usually entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Lexington, contact the Goode Law Office, PLLC. Lawyers can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no insurance or money. #goodelawyers