U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria said right off the bat that his latest ruling is “probably most disappointing for Monsanto.”
The same federal jurist who earlier this month leaned toward limiting evidence of alleged misconduct against Monsanto in the case of its herbicide, Roundup, has now said that plaintiffs could introduce some evidence of the company’s alleged attempts to ghostwrite studies and influence the findings of scientists and regulators during the first phase of upcoming cancer trials.
It’s a controversial decision in a series of cases linked to claims that Roundup (the active ingredient of which is glyphosate) can cause cancer and that that Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, long knew that was the case. Thousands upon thousands of independent studies internationally have affirmed the safety of glyphosate, although critics continue to latch onto the lone outlier, an International Agency for Research on Cancer from several years ago, to make their case. Currently, there are more than 600 pending Roundup-related lawsuits before Chhabria.
The case Chhabria is currently considering centers on Edwin Hardeman, who has accused Monsanto of attempting to influence regulators and manipulate public opinion. The trial was set to begin Feb. 25.
According to news outlet Reuters, Chhabria said it’s difficult to draw the line between scientific evidence and allegations of corporate misconduct, and questioned whether it would be fair for the jury to not hear about the company’s alleged attempts to influence scientists. The parties did agree that other internal documents, including emails of Monsanto employees discussing lobbying efforts, do not belong in the initial trial phase.