How Long Will My Roundup Lawsuit Take?

It's not easy to predict when your Roundup case will settle or go to trial, but here's what to keep in mind.

By , J.D. · University of San Francisco School of Law

If you're experiencing health problems related to your use of Roundup or another product containing glyphosate, here's what you need to know about the timeline of the claim process:

  • Like any other kind of personal injury case, a typical Roundup lawsuit proceeds through a number of distinct stages.
  • Settlement of your Roundup case can take place at any point along the lawsuit timeline.
  • If your Roundup lawsuit is part of the ongoing multi-district litigation (MDL), you're likely constrained by the procedural calendar of that consolidated action.

Roundup Lawsuits

In the past few years, thousands of lawsuits have been filed against Bayer (manufacturer of Roundup) alleging a link between the popular weed killer's active ingredient (glyphosate) and serious illness like non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Many of these lawsuits have been grouped together in a process called multi-district litigation (more on this later), but in any procedural scenario a Roundup claimant can typically recover for a wide spectrum of losses, including:

  • medical bills arising from Roundup-related illness
  • lost income and any financial impact on ability to earn a living, and
  • physical and mental pain and suffering resulting from Roundup-related illness, necessary medical treatment, and impact on the claimant's ability to enjoy life.

Learn more about how much a Roundup case might be worth.

Do I Need a Lawyer to File a Roundup Lawsuit?

Roundup lawsuits aren't like injury claims after a fender bender. Proving a Roundup case requires demonstrating that a diagnosed illness like non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is linked to your use of Roundup, and it means going to court against a defendant (Bayer) with limitless resources. So between the complexity of these cases, what's at stake, and who you're up against, a Roundup lawsuit isn't the kind of legal action you want to try handling on your own.

If you're ready to reach out for professional help, you can use the tools on this page to contact a Roundup lawyer near you.

The Roundup Lawsuit Process

Here's a snapshot of the key phases of a typical Roundup lawsuit:

  • The consumer (now the "plaintiff") files a civil complaint in court. The complaint is the document that starts the personal injury lawsuit. It describes the plaintiff's case and claims against the "defendant"—usually the manufacturer of Roundup or whatever glyphosate product caused the harm, and the retailer that sold the product. Note that plaintiffs sometimes name multiple defendants, as might happen where a groundskeeper sues both the manufacturer of the weed killer and a former employer that required the product's use.
  • The defendant files an answer to the complaint.
  • The discovery process begins: The plaintiff and defendant exchange information, medical records, and other evidence through written questions (interrogatories), sworn testimony (depositions), and document requests.
  • Pre-trial motions are filed and hearings are held: Both sides of the lawsuit try to persuade the judge to allow or disallow certain evidence (testimony from a proposed expert witness, for example) or to dismiss all or part of the other side's argument.
  • Trial takes place: The plaintiff and defendant carefully set out their arguments in front of the judge or jury, and the judge or jury decides whether the defendant should be held financially responsible for the plaintiff's health problems and other losses (damages) tied to use of the glyphosate product.

The above phases describe a typical civil lawsuit over Roundup. But as mentioned above, thousands of Roundup claims have been grouped together under a process called federal "multidistrict litigation" (MDL). The Roundup MDL (called "In re: Roundup Products Liability Litigation") is being handled in federal court in northern California, and includes many cases originally filed in state courts and later moved into the MDL at Bayer's request.

In or out of the MDL, it's important to note that the two sides could discuss (and finalize) a settlement at any point.

Roundup Cases Can Be Complicated

Most Roundup lawsuits rely on the legal concept of product liability, in which a plaintiff seeks to hold a manufacturer responsible for injuries or health problems caused by an unreasonably dangerous or otherwise defective product. These kinds of cases can be quite complex. There likely will be issues to address right at the outset, including the appropriate statute-of-limitations filing deadline in light of the plaintiff's symptoms. And there will certainly be stacks of medical records to sift through, plus expert witnesses to hear from (often multiple experts on both sides of the case).

All this means some of the phases mentioned above will undoubtedly take longer than they might in a less complex lawsuit (one stemming from a car accident, for example). That's especially true when it comes to the discovery process and the filing of pretrial motions that will set the ground rules for any trial.

The court's calendar may also affect the timeline of a Roundup case. If the calendar is busy, hearing and trial dates might get pushed back by weeks or months. And if your claim is part of the MDL, you'll be following the timeline set by the judge overseeing the consolidated cases.

When Will My Roundup Lawsuit Be Settled?

As discussed above, any Roundup lawsuit is bound to follow roughly the same path from the filing of the complaint through a trial, but it's important to note that settlement of the lawsuit can take place at any time, and if a settlement agreement is reached before trial, the lawsuit will be dismissed.

Especially as the trial date gets closer and the parties get a better sense of the case landscape (and of their respective chances of prevailing), there's a good chance they'll at least test the settlement waters. And even if the two sides don't come together on their own to try to resolve the case out of court, depending on the jurisdiction in which the lawsuit is filed, the court is almost certain to require that the plaintiff and defendant attend at least one mandatory settlement conference before a trial happens.

If your claim is part of the Roundup MDL, it's important to keep in mind one hallmark of that process: The judge overseeing an MDL works to coax the parties toward a global settlement. And while Bayer and plaintiffs' attorneys have made a number of attempts at settlement of current and future Roundup claims, the MDL judge has yet to sign off on any global deal. Get the latest Roundup news on settlements and verdicts.

If your Roundup claim is outside of the MDL, one of the biggest variables in determining how long your lawsuit will take is you. If the defendant offers you a settlement early on, you'll certainly end up with some fast cash, but you might not be getting full and fair compensation for your losses.

Early settlement usually isn't a good idea if there are still big unknowns, including:

  • a complete diagnosis of your health problems resulting from use of Roundup (or another glyphosate product), and
  • a full picture of the medical treatment that will be necessary.

Getting Help With a Roundup Lawsuit

Before any of the formal litigation steps described in this article, the first move for a potential plaintiff is consulting an experienced attorney. A knowledgeable lawyer will be able to explain the rules in your jurisdiction and your strategic options. An attorney can present the pros and cons of settlement, including the fact that once you settle, you can't go back and ask for more money, even if it turns out your illness is worse than you first thought.

Answering a few questions can put you on your way to a free case evaluation. Learn more about hiring and working with a Roundup lawyer.

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