Bayer AG may be regretting its decision to buy Monsanto in 2018. The deal was for $63 billion, but Bayer may not have anticipated the losses it would experience from Roundup lawsuits.
Now, according to Reuters, Bayer has agreed to pay out up to $10.9 billion in order to settle nearly 100,000 lawsuits claiming that Roundup caused cancer in ordinary users.
Bayer has apparently reached terms with around 75% of the 125,000 international cases, filed and unfiled, involving Roundup cancer claims. That includes around 95% of the cases currently set for trial, Bayer said in a statement. Ultimately, Bayer has agreed to pay between $8.8 billion and $9.6 billion to resolve the cases, along with a separate $1.25 billion set aside for future litigation.
Bayer has not admitted any wrongdoing by itself or Monsanto and admits no liability. Plaintiffs allege that using Roundup, which contains the weed killer glyphosate, caused non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a rare blood cancer.
Bayer insists that decades of independent studies have shown glyphosate to be safe for human use. Plaintiffs counter that many of the studies were not actually independent. They also point to an agency of the World Health Organization, which as labeled glyphosate a “probable human carcinogen.”
Only three cases have gone to trial. In those cases, juries ruled for the plaintiffs. Bayer continues to appeal those cases, which are not included in this settlement agreement.
Why is Bayer settling if it denies any wrongdoing?
According to a statement from Bayer, it was a combination of factors that persuaded the company to begin settling Roundup lawsuits. One was that it was seeing a surge in new filings in the U.S. and might have been required to fight over 20 trials a year. Meanwhile, it was seeing a great deal of unfavorable media coverage concerning the trials.
Since Bayer closed the Monsanto deal in 2018, its shares have plummeted by 29%. At the time that the juries ruled against Bayer in the three suits that have come to trial, Bayer had lost more in share value than it paid for Monsanto.
Bayer is clearly working to control the damage by settling these cases.
What happens now?
Bayer has been working with a mediator to develop a settlement agreement that a court will approve. Currently, that agreement calls for the establishment of an independent scientific panel. That panel’s job will be to determine whether Roundup can cause cancer and at what level of exposure.
The panel is expected to take about four years to review the scientific literature in an effort to find out if Roundup could be responsible for the plaintiffs’ cancer. Bayer and the plaintiffs covered by this agreement will be bound by the panel’s determination. No additional lawsuits can be filed while the panel evaluates the evidence.
In the meantime, Bayer will continue to sell Roundup with no additional warnings about the potential for cancer.
If you routinely used Roundup and have developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma or another cancer, please have an experienced product liability attorney evaluate your situation and legal options.