Just weeks after a federal judge called the science behind the alleged carcinogenicity of glyphosate “shaky,” a California state court jury hammered Monsanto with a $289 million verdict, blaming a former groundskeeper’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma on his exposure to the Roundup® chemical. The August 10, 2018, verdict in Johnson v. Monsanto Co., No. CGC16550128 (California Superior Court, County of San Francisco)—which included $250 million in punitive damages—was just the first in the nearly 8,000 Roundup-related cases currently pending against Monsanto, many of which are consolidated in multidistrict litigation in California federal court. The intense publicity surrounding the verdict has left retailers whose products contain ingredients that might have been treated with glyphosate wondering whether their products may be targeted next.

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On June 19, 2017, the United States Supreme Court announced important constitutional limitations on state courts’ ability to exercise specific jurisdiction over nonresidents’ claims against out-of-state defendants. The Court’s nearly unanimous decision in Bristol-Myers v. Superior Court, 582 U.S. (2017) has potentially far-reaching implications for companies facing claims brought by nonresident and resident plaintiffs in states in which those companies are neither incorporated nor maintain their principal place of business. In holding that mere joinder of nonresident plaintiffs’ claims with those of resident plaintiffs does not permit a state court to exercise specific jurisdiction over an out-of-state defendant, the Court’s decision is the latest in a trend of important personal jurisdiction decisions rendered by the high court in recent years which provide companies with significant constitutional protections in terms of where plaintiffs may force companies to litigate. Continue Reading Supreme Court Again Tightens Jurisdictional Requirements for Claims Against Out-of-State Defendants

President Obama signed the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (“Lautenberg Act”) into law in June 2016, amending the core provisions of the Toxic Substances Control Act (“TSCA”) for the first time in nearly 40 years. Last month, Hunton & Williams detailed how the Lautenberg Act considerably broadens the Environmental Protection Agency’s (“EPA’s”) authority to evaluate chemical safety and regulate use of chemicals in all stages of the supply chain, including manufacturing, distribution and retail sale. Within six months, EPA must select at least 10 chemical substances and begin risk evaluations on them. EPA must also classify chemicals – including those currently in the retail supply chain – as “high priority” or “low priority” for review, and begin risk evaluations on 20 high priority chemicals within the next three and a half years. Continue Reading Major Implications for Retail Industry Following Overhaul of Toxic Substance Control Act