Bayer reaches $10-plus billion settlement in Roundup litigation

Bayer has reached a series of agreements to resolve major outstanding Monsanto-related litigation in the U.S., including settlements totalling more than US$10 billion to address legal claims of Roundup herbicide causing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and a US$400 million agreement to settle litigation related to crop damage caused by dicamba herbicide drift.

The company says it will pay US$8.8 to US$9.6 billion to resolve current Roundup claims in the U.S., including some allowance for unresolved claims, as well as US$1.25 billion for a separate class agreement addressing potential future litigation.

This is expected to bring closure to around 75 per cent of the approximately 125,000 filed and unfiled claims related to Roundup, says Bayer.

The agreements have been approved unanimously by Bayer’s board of management and supervisory board, and contain no admission of liability or wrongdoing, says the company.

“First and foremost, the Roundup settlement is the right action at the right time for Bayer to bring a long period of uncertainty to an end,” says Werner Baumann, Bayer CEO, in a statement issued Wednesday, June 24. “It resolves most current claims and puts in place a clear mechanism to manage risks of potential future litigation. It is financially reasonable when viewed against the significant financial risks of continued, multi-year litigation and the related impacts to our reputation and to our business.”

“The decision to resolve the Roundup litigation enables us to focus fully on the critical supply of healthcare and food. It will also return the conversation about the safety and utility of glyphosate-based herbicides to the scientific and regulatory arena and to the full body of science,” continues Baumann.

One of the personal injury law firms representing plaintiffs in the case says the settlement “provides justice” for the people it was representing.

“With so many claims against Monsanto scheduled to go before courts around the country in the coming year, and the multiple thousands of cases that would never see trial dates, we feel that this settlement is the best way to ensure that victims receive justice,” says Perry Weitz, managing partner at Weitz & Luxenberg.

Three cases that have already gone to trial — Johnson, Hardeman, and Pilliod — are not covered by the settlements and will continue through the court process. Bayer says it believes it’s important to continue these cases as the appeals will provide future legal guidance.

Under the terms of the class agreement for future cases, which is not yet approved by a U.S District Court in California, an independent “Class Science Panel” would be established to determine whether Roundup can cause non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and if so, the minimum exposure levels. If no link is established, it will bar class members from claiming otherwise in any future litigation against Bayer.

The settlements do not apply to class action litigation in Canadian courts. Bayer says it is not contemplating a settlement of the Canadian cases related to Roundup:

“… although there are some similarities between the U.S. and Canadian legal systems, they are in fact quite different, including with respect to damage awards. Very different considerations apply in Canada.”

Bayer also announced a mass tort agreement to settle litigation in the U.S. related to dicamba drift allegedly causing crop damage in the 2015 to 2020 crop years.

The company says it will pay up to a total of US$400 million to resolve the multi-district litigation pending in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. Claimants will have to provide proof of damage to crop yields and evidence that it was caused by dicamba. Bayer says it expects its co-defendant, BASF, will also contribute toward this settlement.

On the financial front, Bayer says it expects up to US$10 billion from the settlements to be paid out by the end of 2021, with the balance being paid in 2022 or later.

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