In a series of cases that has already offered a number of twists and turns while being closely watched by people around the world, we get yet another key ruling out of California. On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in San Francisco issued a ruling that could limit the evidence presented in lawsuits related to Bayer’s Monsanto unit and the allegations that glyphosate causes cancer. In short, the ruling says that there would need to be definitive scientific proof that glyphosate was the cause a plaintiff’s cancer before any possible misconduct on Monsanto’s part — and thus the company’s liability — would be determined.
The case centers on Edwin Hardeman, who has accused Monsanto of attempting to influence regulators and manipulate public opinion. He and his lawyers are now barred from from introducing any evidence related to those allegations until causation between glyphosate and cancer is found. The trial was set to begin Feb. 25.
According to Reuters, Hardeman’s lawyers contended that such evidence, including internal Monsanto documents, showed the company’s misconduct.
The developments come just a few months after a jury awarded DeWayne Johnson tens of millions of dollars in punitive and other damages over his claims that a Monsanto weedkiller containing glyphosate made him sick. The jury’s decision was polarizing, with many activist groups lauding it and the scientific community speaking out against it, saying that the decision was rooted largely on emotion and activism (and a parsing of inert weedkiller ingredients) rather than any real science.
Chhabria ruling on Thursday comes as the judge has more than 600 pending Roundup-related lawsuits before him.
Bayer denies allegations that glyphosate causes cancer, citing decades of independent studies. In a statement, the company said it welcomed the court’s decision, calling it an “encouraging signal and a step toward a more objective discussion.”
While the Johnson case sent Bayer’s shares tumbling, the latest ruling has bolstered them, giving Bayer its biggest gains in nearly a month.