Monsanto's appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court in its challenge of a $25 million verdict over its weed killer Roundup is one of the top product liability cases attorneys will be watching in the new year. And as more opioid cases continue to head to trial, the first bellwethers against e-cigarette maker Juul and the manufacturers of herbicide paraquat will also get underway.
Here's what to watch in 2022:
Monsanto High Court Appeal
In the latest twist in the litigation over Monsanto's weed killer Roundup, attorneys are waiting to see if the U.S. Supreme Court will choose to take up the Bayer AG unit's petition in its appeal of a 2019 verdict of $25 million awarded to a man who claimed Roundup caused his cancer.
Monsanto asked the high court in August to overturn a Ninth Circuit ruling that affirmed the jury award to Edwin Hardeman, a California man who successfully claimed that repeated exposure to Roundup led to his cancer diagnosis. Monsanto argued that the decision inappropriately transfers control over a product's safety warning from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to the California jury that decided the case in the trial court.
In its May decision, the Ninth Circuit ruled that California's failure-to-warn claims were not preempted by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, as the requirements of both state and federal laws were similarly consistent.
In its petition, Monsanto said the experts who testified on behalf of Hardeman were admitted into court under a "uniquely lenient" standard, with potential "consequences for tens of thousands of pending Roundup cases." Hardeman, in the opposition brief, pointed out that other jurisdictions with purportedly "stricter" standards have supported rulings similar to that of the Ninth Circuit.
Monsanto is asking the Supreme Court to decide whether the Ninth's Circuit's standards for the admissibility of expert witnesses is inconsistent with the high court's precedent and the Federal Rule of Evidence 702, which governs that issue.
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