On June 24, 2020, Bayer announced one of the largest settlements in U.S. Civil Litigation to resolve the lawsuits surrounding Roundup weed killer and its ties to Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). Bayer acquired Monsanto in 2018, after claims had already surfaced that one of the active ingredients in Roundup, glyphosate, was a probable carcinogenic to humans. Since then, three sizeable verdicts against Monsanto influenced them to avoid trial and seek an alternative dispute resolution for the thousands of pending lawsuits that remained. Bayer and the 25 lead law firms negotiated the settlement for months before coming to an agreement.
The agreement outlines that Bayer has agreed to pay between $10.1 and $10.9 billion dollars to resolve current and potential future Roundup litigation. Bayer plans to use between $8.8 and $9.6 billion to settle current litigation, and $1.25 billion to resolve potential future litigation and create an expert panel. Despite Bayer offering this large sum, their CEO, Werner Baumann, maintains that “the extensive body of science indicates that Roundup does not cause cancer, and therefore, is not responsible for the illnesses alleged in this litigation.” Further, Mr. Baumann states that their glyphosate-based herbicides are among the most rigorously studied products and that four decades of research supports that they are not carcinogenic.
The independent expert panel structured in the settlement will review glyphosate exposure and its links to cancer. Subject to approval by Judge Chhabria, definitive cancer links will bar Bayer from arguing their product is non-carcinogenic in the future, while non-definitive findings may prohibit future litigation from occurring.
Bayer’s CEO focused on putting this major litigation behind them, while addressing that its lingering was causing a time of uncertainty in the company. Although 25,000 claimants refused to join the class action, the attorney that led the mediation stated that he would be surprised if there are any future trials.