US decide undoes Bayer’s $ 2 billion plan to “shut” Roundup litigation
A U.S. judge rejected Bayer’s (BAYGn.DE) $ 2 billion class action lawsuit aimed at resolving future litigation alleging its Roundup weed killer caused cancer.
San Francisco District Court Judge Vince Chhabria said the proposal “would do a lot for Monsanto,” which Bayer acquired for $ 63 billion in 2018, and “bring far less to the current healthy Roundup users.”
The agreement would have suspended the litigation linking Roundup to non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) for four years and prevented Roundup users from seeking punitive damages once the litigation break expired.
In return, users could be eligible for free medical exams and compensation if they were diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
The proposed class action lawsuit related to claims made by people who had been exposed to the weed killer and who will become ill in the future.
Separately, Bayer has allocated up to $ 9.6 billion to resolve ongoing claims from individuals suspecting glyphosate – the main ingredient in Roundup – for an existing illness. The company’s CEO told analysts this month that 90,000 outstanding claims have been resolved and 30,000 are still under negotiation.
The company has said decades of studies have shown Roundup and glyphosate are safe for human use. Bayer did not respond to requests for comment on the judge’s decision.
Elizabeth Cabraser, the attorney representing the proposed class, said in a statement that she was disappointed with the verdict and continued to believe the plan would provide tremendous financial, health, and safety benefits to class members.
Bayer has been criticized by consumers for trying to label Roundup or remove it from the herbicide market that it dominates along with other glyphosate products.
Bayer has announced that the Environmental Protection Agency has approved its label and the company could be blamed for misbranding if it adds a warning. The EPA has determined that glyphosate is safe.
Chhabria had suggested that a warning label could provide a way to prevent future lawsuits based on the theory that Bayer did not warn consumers of roundups related to cancer. Continue reading
Bayer has identified the class action settlement proposal as one of the “building blocks” in “closing” the Roundup litigation.
Leslie Brueckner, a public justice attorney who objected to the proposal, described the ruling as important to public health and said the risk of significant punitive harm could force Bayer to change it.
Chhabria’s decision meant the company was still on trial, she said.
“As long as Roundup remains in the market, Bayer will continue to be sued by Roundup victims who receive the NHL,” said Brueckner. “That means no closure.”
The four-year plan would potentially have put millions of home users and farm workers in one class, providing them with medical exams and up to $ 200,000 if they were diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Chhabria’s six-page order questioned the value of the medical exam offer, given the 10-year to 15-year delay between exposure and the potential for cancer symptoms.
He also said that most applicants could expect compensation of $ 60,000 or less and that compensation may not be available after the plan expires.
The class’s attorneys said at the hearing last week that Bayer could extend the deal and provide additional compensation.
The judge also asked how healthy Roundup users could be adequately informed of a deal that would bind them in the future as they develop NHL.
“Mere changes cannot save the agreement,” said Chhabria.
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