After three huge damage awards by Bay Area juries to cancer victims exposed to Monsanto Co. herbicides, a judge has partially granted the company’s request to move the next group of federal trials out of California.
U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria of San Francisco is overseeing about 1,300 suits filed against the agrochemical giant in federal courts across the country, with an additional 12,000 pending in state courts. He presided over the first federal trial, in which a jury awarded more than $80 million in March to a Sonoma County man who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after spraying Monsanto’s Roundup on his property for more than 26 years.
Chhabria is scheduled to hold another San Francisco trial in February and plans to refer several cases of elderly or seriously ill plaintiffs to federal judges elsewhere in California. But with early trials likely to set standards for a potential nationwide settlement, Monsanto asked Chhabria last month to schedule the next round of cases in other states, citing California’s plaintiff-friendly laws and what the company called “highly prejudicial coverage” by news media.