SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Proposed class counsel Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, Audet & Partners, LLP, The Dugan Law Firm, LLC, Fegan Scott, LLC, and lawyer Samuel Issacharoff, announced today a proposed $2 billion class settlement providing for compensation, notice, outreach, diagnostic assistance for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), NHL scientific and medical research, and free legal services for a class of all those previously exposed to Monsanto’s Roundup™ in the United States who have not already filed individual tort suits against Monsanto or retained counsel to do so. The proposed class settlement’s comprehensive notice program is critical to reaching many of the class members who do not speak English as a first language. The proposed class settlement provides that Monsanto will seek permission from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to add a reference link on its Roundup™ product labels to public scientific information about Roundup™ and NHL.
The class includes those who have been diagnosed with NHL and had exposures to Roundup™ prior to being diagnosed with NHL. The Settlement also includes benefits to those who have been exposed to Roundup™ and do not have a current NHL diagnosis, but may develop NHL in the future. Under the proposed settlement, class members have the options of registering for benefits and filing a claim for a monetary award, or filing an application to participate in the diagnostic program; filing an exclusion or objection; attending a hearing; or taking no action.
“Today’s settlement provides a legal remedy for those who have been exposed to Roundup™ and lack the ability to hire a lawyer or access to the basic diagnostic services necessary to know if they have NHL,” said Elizabeth Cabraser, partner at Lieff Cabraser and lead counsel for the potential claimants. “Many of those exposed to Roundup™, especially agricultural workers whose first language may not be English, may be unaware of the issues surrounding Monsanto’s Roundup™. Equity demands similar opportunities for this group of people as it does for the thousands of claimants who have retained counsel and achieved meaningful settlement offers. We are proud to have achieved such a comprehensive settlement for our clients and the thousands of others who will benefit.”
Benefits to class members over a four-year period include:
- Compensation: Up to $200,000 for those with exposure to Roundup™ and diagnosed with NHL. The next of kin of deceased with exposure to Roundup™ who qualify for benefits may apply for a payment. A $50 million fund will also be established to provide for payments above $200,000 in extraordinary circumstances;
- Medical Evaluations: Class members who have not been diagnosed with NHL may be eligible for NHL evaluations at no cost. Areas where quality healthcare is not readily available will be prioritized to expand access to NHL diagnostic evaluation for the most at-risk and underserved populations. If the evaluation results in an NHL diagnosis, the Class Member may also make a claim for a monetary award;
- Research: The research funding program will fund medical and scientific research into diagnosis and treatment of NHL;
- Product Labeling: Monsanto will request permission from the EPA to add a reference link on Roundup™ product labels to certain scientific information about Roundup™ and NHL;
- Free Legal Services Program: Provides settlement class members with free legal advice, including assistance with filing a claim and understanding all of their rights and options. This is available to all class members after final approval of the Settlement by the Court;
- Comprehensive Notice Program: Class members are diverse and widespread, including large groups of individuals who may be itinerant, lack exposure to traditional media, or do not speak English as a first language. The comprehensive notice program was designed following extensive research and information-gathering to understand class members’ geographic concentration, as well as the communication channels by which they receive and share information. This research included a survey, interviews, and extensive analysis of U.S. government data. The resulting program is multifaceted, utilizing several communications channels and languages to reach class members.
The Settlement anticipates, after the four-year period, that the parties may negotiate an extension of its terms and compensatory benefits, depending upon the success of the program and the state of the science.
“This settlement provides agriculture workers access to critical information regarding their risks, access to diagnostic testing, and the support of trusted providers of care that are best equipped to ensure that farmworkers take an active role in this process, and realize the full benefits of the settlement,” said Sylvia Partida, CEO of the National Center for Farmworker Health.
“For 15 years I sprayed 500 to 1,000 gallons of Roundup™ on farmland wearing only gloves because there was never any warning to wear additional protective gear,” said plaintiff Aaron Sheller, a partial owner of Sheller Farms, LLC in Indiana. “Although I have thankfully not been diagnosed with NHL, I am at a higher risk for future development. It is comforting to know this settlement will provide protections for me and many others in my situation.”
Unlike the settlement submitted to the Court in 2020 and withdrawn after the Court raised questions last July, this Settlement is a conventional mass tort class settlement. It is being proposed to the Court as a compromise between potential claimants and defendants and it follows the large-scale earlier private settlements of previously filed claims.
The Settlement includes an Advisory Science Panel, whose findings will not be binding, but can be used as non-exclusive evidence in cases of settlement class members who do not receive monetary awards under the Settlement and may later enter the tort system. In addition to its potential evidentiary function, the findings of the Advisory Science Panel can also be used to inform the parties’ negotiation of settlement figures for the extension period of the Settlement.
The class agreement is subject to Court approval and the filing of a motion for preliminary approval today begins this review process by the Court.
The class action was filed on April 24, 2019 in the Northern District of California.
Read the settlement documents here: lieffcabraser.com/pdf/Class_Plan_Documents.pdf