Judge Chhabria issued an order in the most Chhabria-esque of tones, heavily hinting that the proposed class action settlement plan is a no-go. Now that I know his opinion may vaguely resemble my own, I wish I could have been in the room when he first perused the settlement proposal to hear some of his biting commentary as he sharpened his pencil. Or maybe he’s a red pen kind of guy.
When my husband and I were in our first weeks of dating, I asked him to look over a report I had written for a class. He returned an hour later, having used a red pen to mark up nearly every word that I wrote. You know, to be “helpful” like some of his teachers had been. I guess everyone has their own style of seduction. (I can imagine that he and Chhabria might share that same style.)
Historically, Chhabria has not been easy to please. He is the judge who created the most hurdles to the plaintiffs of the three judges, and decided that the Hardeman trial would be bifurcated. In other words, split into two phases – one just science, the other everything else involving the stunningly corrupted antics of the Monsanto execs. Lawyers Jennifer Moore and Aimee Wagstaff pulled off the win in both phases, providing Chhabria with an important precedent – indeed, Monsanto is liable based on glyphosate science alone.
Given the years of work he invested in the Roundup MDL, he is likely pretty annoyed by the arbitrary “Science Panel” that would be assigned to determine causation in the class action settlement plan. In the order, he wrote:
Even with the consent of both sides, it’s questionable whether it would be constitutional (or otherwise lawful) to delegate the function of deciding the general causation question (that is, whether and at what dose Roundup is capable of causing cancer) from judges and juries to a panel of scientists.
In an area where the science may be evolving, how could it be appropriate to lock in a decision from a panel of scientists for all future cases?
Chhabria ultimately suggested that Monsanto and the plaintiff class action attorneys move to a Plan B since Plan A isn’t looking so hot.
Two days later, the settlement proposal was withdrawn entirely by the class action attorneys, with Monsanto’s consent. Hopefully, with their tails between their legs in embarrassment and shame. So we will await the Plan B.
As we sit tight and hope, read this letter that was submitted to Judge Chhabria today. Amidst all of the legal brawling, it serves as a grounding reminder as to why so much is riding on each of these rulings.