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Bayer to Cough Up Higher Settlement Price to Cover Future Litigation

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Bayer is close to settling Monsanto Roundup lawsuits, but will need more cash than planned for future lawsuits

Santa Clara, CABayer needs to cough up more cash to settle Monsanto Roundup current and future lawsuits. While its current legal bill covers most of the Roundup claims, future Roundup cancer lawsuits have not yet been settled.

Numerous cases slated for trials in January and February 2020 have been postponed and U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria presiding over the Roundup litigation agreed to delay further proceedings on dozens of individual claims that were being prepared for trial in the federal court system. The federal judge agreed to stay the proceedings until November 2 and that active deadlines to prepare bellwether cases for trial may be reinstated if progress was not reached to settle claims pending in a federal multidistrict litigation. On November 2, attorneys for Bayer (Monsanto) filed a joint case management statement and litigation plan indicating that it has missed the deadline established by the Court, with about half of all claims pending in the federal court system still not subject to a settlement agreement.

Bayer had agreed to pay as much as $10.9 billion to settle all current and future claims that the Roundup weedkiller causes cancer. But Judge Chhabria raised doubts about the portion allocated for future claims and sent Bayer and the plaintiffs back to the drawing board.

The Roundup settlement agreement involves approximately 88,500 of the 125,000 claims filed in state and federal courts, or which have not yet been filed. But Bayer says the total number is not confirmed, “given uncertainties about eligibility and participation,” which may suggest some plaintiffs are not in agreement.

Future Monsanto Roundup Litigation


Litigation has been going badly for Bayer. Like mesothelioma caused by asbestos --sometimes taking decades to diagnose-- non-Hodgkins lymphoma too may take years to develop and be diagnosed. And Roundup has been on the market since 1974. In other words, it needs to set aside more funding for future claims.

To make things worse for Bayer, the California Supreme Court declined in October to hear an appeal by Bayer seeking to reverse the first jury Roundup jury verdict that ruled in favor of Dewayne "Lee" Johnson, a former groundskeeper who claimed Roundup caused non-Hodgkin's lymphoma – he was diagnosed with the cancer back in August 2014. Bayer is “hopeful” that its appeal of the second jury verdict and its second trial loss, the case of Edwin Hardeman, will be heard. Hardeman was awarded more than $80 million in damages while Johnson was awarded a whopping $289 million, which a judge cut back to $78 million.

On November 3 Bayer posted a loss in its third quarter results: the coronavirus pandemic compounded its Monsanto problems, which the company purchased for $63 billion in 2018. “In the second quarter, problems related to the Monsanto purchase had already pushed Bayer to a net loss of nearly $11 billion as the company set aside money to cover its proposed Roundup settlement deal,” reported the Wall Street Journal. Some analysts say that a new proposal protecting Bayer from future lawsuits would require more time but that a new solution would likely cost close to $2 billion, instead of $1.25 billion currently predicted.

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