To settle or Not To Settle: Attorney Refuses to Back Down in Bayer-Roundup cases

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Virginia-based attorney Mike Miller is taking on Bayer AG in two new trials starting this week, representing plaintiffs who claim the German company’s herbicide Roundup caused their cancer.

The first case will take place in Contra Costa, California, and the second this week will be in St. Louis. These trials represent the fourth and fifth of their kind faced by Bayer, which purchased Roundup maker Monsanto in June 2018. Bayer has lost all three of its previous trials, being ordered by juries to pay billions of dollars.

Some critics say Miller’s going to trial and not settling out of court is harming the plaintiff’s chances of receiving a payout while also potentially giving Bayer leverage in future litigation, according to U.S. Right to Know. However, those who agree say he is a champion of the plaintiffs making sure they receive all they deserve.

Miller stands apart from the many other attorneys taking on Bayer who have been willing to settle or postpone trials. And his firm stance so far has paid off. He has already shown he can win big for his clients, with his firm representing two of the three previous trials. Jurors in a San Francisco state court in August awarded school groundskeeper Dewayne “Lee” Johnson $289 million and in May an Oakland, California, jury awarded just over $2 billion to couple Alva and Alberta Pilliod, The Expert Institute reports. The Pilliods’ award was the eighth largest in history.

They and Johnson all had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and claimed their extensive use of Roundup caused the disease, according to The Indian Express. The juries agreed, also saying Monsanto had failed to give proper warning of the dangers of using the product. Judges in later appeals lowered both of these amounts.

The Pilliods’ trial was unique because it was the first in which Miller and his team were granted permission to present evidence that suggested Monsanto had known Roundup and its main ingredient, glyphosate, were carcinogenic and colluded with scientists and the Environmental Protection Agency to suppress the information according to The Expert Institute. The evidence included emails between the EPA and Monsanto officials. The EPA, however, stands by its recent announcement that glyphosate does not cause cancer and is safe for human use.

Attorney Jennifer Moore of the Andrus Wagstaff firm based in Colorado represented plaintiff Edwin Hardeman in Bayer’s first Roundup trial in March in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco. The jury ordered Monsanto to pay $80 million. Thousands of lawsuits have been filed against Bayer/Monsanto. However, the Hardeman case was the first of its kind to go to trial, setting a precedent, according to U.S. Right to Know.

The question remains of when to settle and when to push a case to trial for the maximum benefit of the plaintiffs. Bayer’s list of lawsuits continues to grow — reports speculate anywhere from 80,000 to over 100,000 — and officials there are feeling the pressure to settle, U.S. Right to know says. Miller, however, is not backing down. In addition to the two trials getting underway this week, he also has a trial set in February in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, representing cancer patient Elaine Stevick.

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