Bayer Tries Again to Limit Roundup Liability
By Sara Randazzo
Bayer AG is trying again to contain its liability over claims
that its popular Roundup weedkiller causes cancer, unveiling
Wednesday a $2 billion proposal to pay farmers and gardeners who
try to blame the company for illnesses in the future.
The German company and plaintiffs' lawyers said they would seek
a U.S. District Court judge's permission for a compensation program
that would pay between around $5,000 and $200,000 each to future
plaintiffs who contract non-Hodgkin lymphoma after using
Bayer has been battling litigation over Roundup's safety since
acquiring Monsanto Co., the weedkiller's manufacturer, in 2018.
After three California juries found in favor of sick plaintiffs,
Bayer agreed last June to pay up to $9.6 billion to settle existing
Roundup cases. It continues to deny any link between the product
That deal, however, didn't prevent more plaintiffs from coming
forward in the future. An earlier proposal to create a panel of
scientific experts whose conclusions on Roundup's safety would bind
future litigants didn't pass muster with a federal judge, and Bayer
has been working with plaintiffs' lawyers since July on a
The new proposed class action covers those who haven't yet hired
a lawyer to pursue a Roundup claim. If approved by the court,
individuals who believe Roundup caused their non-Hodgkin lymphoma
can apply for a settlement from a $1.33 billion pot of money, with
the offers dependent on age, health, proof of Roundup use and other
factors. Those who opt out can still pursue litigation on their
own, with the prospect of convincing a jury to award higher,
punitive damages not available to class members. The settlement
fund will last four years, with the option to extend it after
"It's really about options, and it's really about choice," said
Elizabeth Cabraser, an attorney for the plaintiffs. "I think it's a
great option that offers predictability and transparency for people
who don't want to wait, who want to be compensated."
Roundup continues to be sold for commercial farming and consumer
gardening use with no changes to its formulation or label.
Wednesday's deal includes a proposal to place on Roundup's label a
link to a website with information on the disputed science behind
the safety of glyphosate, the weedkiller's active ingredient.
The Environmental Protection Agency must sign off on the change.
The EPA has previously said Bayer can't include a cancer-warning
label on the product because the agency concluded the science
didn't back up such a claim.
Bayer told investors in November that it was setting aside
another $750 million to resolve the future Roundup cases, bringing
the total to the $2 billion detailed Wednesday. In addition to the
compensation fund, the money will go toward health programs to help
potential plaintiffs be monitored for non-Hodgkin lymphoma; grants
for research on NHL treatments; a science panel that will reach
nonbinding conclusions on glyphosate's safety; and fees to
plaintiffs' attorneys, who will be providing some free legal
services for those applying for compensation.
The company is still completing settlements with lawyers who
have existing Roundup clients. In November, Bayer said it had
reached deals with 88,500 of the roughly 125,000 claims in that
Bayer continues to pursue appeals in the three cases that went
to trial. In October, California's highest court declined to hear
an appeal in the first jury verdict, though lower courts slashed
the award to groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson to $20.4 million, from
an initial $289.2 million.
Write to Sara Randazzo at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
February 03, 2021 17:02 ET (22:02 GMT)
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