The first bellwether trial in the multidistrict litigation targeting Monsanto Co. with claims that its herbicide Roundup causes cancer got underway with some fireworks, as the federal judge overseeing the case threatened the lead plaintiffs lawyer in the case during her opening statements with sanctions.

U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria of the Northern District of California interrupted plaintiffs lawyer Aimee Wagstaff of Andrus Wagstaff multiple times, including calling a pair of sidebar conferences, in attempts to keep her opening presentation focused on the subject of the first phase of the trial: Whether or not plaintiff Edwin Hardeman’s lawyers can prove that his use of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide caused his non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Chhabria bifurcated the trial to frontload the causation question while leaving questions of Monsanto’s potential liability and damages for a potential later phase in the trial.

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