A large group of law firms and lawyers asked the Northern District of California on Friday for permission to file an opposition to the court’s preliminary approval of Bayer’s $2 million class-action settlement in the consolidated lawsuit regarding Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide.
The 93 law firms and 167 lawyers, acting as Amici Curiae and represented by Bailey & Glasser, attached a brief to their filing to explain their opposition. The brief cited that the court in July had significant concerns with the first proposed class settlement and was skeptical of its fairness and if class members would want to join, causing Monsanto and the putative class to withdraw the settlement. The brief claimed that “little has changed” between that point and the recently proposed settlement.
“Although some proposed terms have been tweaked, the major components that drew this Court’s skepticism—lack of meaningful notice, the waiver of punitive damages, and the formation of a secret science panel— remain intact. To those exposed to Roundup, “Plan B” is a solution in search of a problem. The only purported benefit being offered is an administrative system whereby putative class members can submit their case to a claims administrator and be provided an offer,” the brief said.
The lawyers explained that collectively they have represented various people who have been injured, giving them “meaningful perspective” for how “injury victims can engage with the judicial system.” They explained that the proposed settlement would not help the proposed class members, citing that it would bar some victims from asking for punitive damages because there is a settlement in place and that Monsanto has continued manufacturing Roundup, and would continue under the settlement.
Additionally, the lawyers claimed that the proposed four-year stay on proceedings would be “anathema to the effective representation of injured individuals.” They argued that in those four years some people will die from the cancers which the plaintiffs alleged came from Monsanto. “Why should injured victims be deprived of the relief that they so urgently need? Such a stay is unprecedented in our jurisprudence. It should not be countenanced by this or any other court in any litigation involving injured individuals,” the brief said.
Reportedly, the four-year stay is included in the settlement to give time for a science panel to be constructed, but the lawyers further argued that this panel would not be effective. They reported that it would not include anyone who has previously researched glyphosate, the chemical in Roundup, and found it dangerous. Additionally, the panel would “operate in total darkness, its work hidden, its process hidden,” but then its conclusions would be presented as facts. They claimed that the court systems are purposefully public and that a “factual determination” should not be made in secret.
The lawyers purported that these aspects of the settlement “violate() core principles of America’s system of justice” and asked the court to deny preliminary approval of the settlement.