On June 24, 2020, Bayer agreed to a $10.9 billion settlement to resolve a majority of the claims that the popular weed killer Roundup™ causes cancer. The resolution establishes a framework for resolving many of the remaining claims, although some of the victims rejected the settlement because the offer is too small.
WHO Study Links Roundup™ to Cancer
Agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology giant Monsanto developed and marketed the broad-spectrum, post-emergent herbicide Roundup™ in the 1970s. For decades it was used by farmers and suburbanites to kill weeds, grasses, and other plants, improve crop yields, and keep suburban yards weed-free.
Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup™, is effective at killing a wide variety of plants and, in 2007, was the most used herbicide in the United States. It can be used to eradicate invasive species and enhance native plant establishment.
Bayer inherited Roundup™ when it purchased Monsanto in 2018. Monsanto has been plagued by lawsuits, most recently claims alleging that Roundup™ causes serious health problems, including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer that affects the lymphatic system. A 2015 report by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) linked glyphosate to cancer in humans.
While the settlement leaves open the possibility of more lawsuits, it calls for Bayer to set aside between $8.8 billion and $9.9 billion to pay claims made by an estimated 95,000 claimants, as well as 30,000 people who have not agreed to the settlement. The company agreed to set aside another $1.25 billion to work to resolve future claims, including funding a panel to evaluate whether Roundup™ causes cancer. Bayer did not admit to any wrongdoing and maintains that Roundup™ does not cancer. They will continue to sell the product.
By agreeing to the settlement, Bayer sought to move past reputational damage the company suffered since its 2018 acquisition of Monsanto. But, by continuing to sell the product the company remains open to future lawsuits.
Roundup™ Verdicts Were Losses for Bayer
Three Roundup™ cases have been litigated and resulted in losses for the Bayer, causing stock prices to drop and prompting a revolt among shareholders who accused Bayer’s management of plunging the company into one of the worst crises in its history.
In 2018, a California jury returned a $289 million verdict in favor of a man who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after repeatedly using Roundup™ as part of his work as a groundskeeper. The jury found that Monsanto failed to warn consumers that Roundup™ could be harmful.
In March 2019, another California jury returned a verdict of $80 million in favor of a man who claimed that Roundup™ was a substantial factor in causing his cancer.
In May 2019, a California jury returned a $2 billion verdict against Bayer for failing to warn consumers that Roundup™ is a potential carcinogenic.
Bayer plans to appeal these cases, hoping to get favorable decisions that will change the perception that Roundup™ is unsafe.
Settlement Calls for Further Research into Link Between Roundup™ and Cancer
If the panel finds that Roundup™ does not cause cancer, all future cases about Roundup™ will be shut down. If the panel finds that Roundup™ does cause cancer, the company plans to fight each plaintiff’s claims on a case-by-case basis.
As part of the resolution, Bayer agreed to create a five-member scientific panel that will evaluate the link between Roundup™ and cancer. The panel will report its findings to a federal District Court judge in San Francisco. If the panel finds that Roundup™ does not cause cancer, all future cases about Roundup™ will be shut down. If the panel finds that Roundup™ does cause cancer, the company plans to fight each plaintiff’s claims on a case-by-case basis.
Bayer is optimistic that the panel will find that Roundup™ does not cause cancer, noting that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found that the product is safe. Strategically, Bayer agreed to the settlement in an effort to take the decision out of the hands of juries, relying instead on scientists to make a conclusion as to whether Roundup™ is a carcinogen. The scientists will be selected with input from both Bayer and the plaintiff’s lawyers.
Creating a panel like this is a rare move and raises questions about whether plaintiffs who are not yet sick will be able to make claims against Roundup™.
Additional Claims Against Bayer Remain Unresolved
Not all of the plaintiffs have agreed to the deal. Approximately 30,000 people whose cancer was caused by Roundup™ rejected the settlement. Their lawyer intends to hold Bayer responsible in jury trials across the country.
Robenalt Law — Seeking Justice for Injured Consumers
Ohio products liability lawyer Tom Robenalt knows all-too-well the lengths product manufacturers will go to to protect themselves, their products, and their bottom line, often at the expense of consumers. He began his career defending corporate defendants in product liability cases at a large Cleveland law firm. Today, Tom uses that experience to help people who have been injured by using unsafe products.
If you or someone you love was diagnosed with cancer and used Roundup™ or other weed killers that contain glyphosate, you and your family may be entitled to compensation. An experienced product liability lawyer can analyze whether you are eligible, and help you obtain compensation. While no amount of money will make up for the harm you suffered, it can help pay for medical bills, lost wages, emotional trauma, pain and suffering, and compensate your family for wrongful death.
Robenalt Law handles product liability cases on a contingency fee, which means we don’t get paid unless we recover money for you.
Tom Robenalt started his litigation career at a large firm in Cleveland where he defended manufacturers accused of marketing harmful products. For the past 25 years, he has used that experience to help victims and the families of those injured as a result of faulty or harmful products.