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Bayer’s Roundup Settlement: A Brief History

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The Settlement Deal with Bayer’s Roundup Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma Cases Continues –here is a brief history.

Santa Clara, CABayer has been working out Monsanto’s Roundup settlement since acquiring the glyphosate manufacturer in 2018. The corporation expects to resolve future claims that its weedkiller causes cancer by mid-May. Here is a brief history of Bayer’s $11 billion outline settlement.

2015: The World Health Organization’s cancer research sector determined Roundup to be a “probable carcinogen.” But the U.S. and the European regulators determined glyphosate to be non-carcinogenic.

2017: The EPA stated that the chemical wasn't likely cancer-causing.

2018: Bayer purchased glyphosate manufacturer Monsanto and its Roundup lawsuits for $63 billion.

A San Francisco jury awarded $289 million to Dewayne Johnson for his non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, an amount later reduced. Bayer/Monsanto was ordered to pay $39 million in compensatory damages, plus another $250 million in punitive damages.

May 2019: Another California jury ordered Bayer to pay $2 billion in punitive damages in a lawsuit filed by a couple who both developed cancer after using Roundup for over 30 years. This huge award was reduced to $86.7 million after the judge concluded that the $2B judgment was significantly out of step with legal precedent.

June 2020: Bayer and a number of plaintiffs' lawyers in the MDL (called "In re: Roundup Products Liability Litigation") reached a $10.9 billion settlement agreement meant to apply to current and future Roundup claims. However, federal court judge Vince Chhabria (who is overseeing the MDL in federal district court in California) rejected the deal, partially to his objections related to the rights of future claimants.

Bayer agreed to settle the vast majority of Roundup lawsuits for almost $11 billion. The agreement includes 95 percent of cases already set for trial. Between $8.8 billion and $9.6 billion of the settlement goes to cover those current cases, with about $1.25 billion set aside to cover future plaintiffs that haven’t yet filed lawsuits against Bayer.

Judge Chhabria prevented California officials from requiring that the weed killer contain a prominent safety warning on store shelves in the state – a win for Bayer.

July 2020: Judge Chhabria was concerned over how the proposed settlement agreement might apply to future cases, including use of a "Class Science Panel" to decide issues that are typically resolved via the court process. A California appellate court denied Bayer's request to overturn the trial court's decision in the first Roundup injury lawsuit to the plaintiff Dewayne Johnson. The court further reduced his award from $78.5 million to $20.5 million. 

August 2020: The $10.9 billion settlement agreement meant to resolve most existing and future lawsuits over Roundup-related illness was further delayed. According to court documents, plaintiffs' lawyers accused Bayer of reneging on the deal, and the judge expressed concerns that Bayer was manipulating the settlement process. 

September 2020: Bayer/Monsanto and a number of plaintiffs' attorneys agreed to settle 15,000 lawsuits over health problems linked to Roundup. Terms of the settlements (including amounts) weren't announced.

February 2021: Bayer pledged $2 billion to resolve future claims, as Roundup remains on the market. That means $750 million is added to the total bill of an outline settlement agreed in June 2020 of $11 billion.

Several plaintiffs' lawyers, who so far opted out of the overall settlement, objected to the deal on future cases. According to the Wall Street Journal, Bayer’s proposed deal would create a compensation program that would pay future Roundup claimants approximately $5,000 to $200,000 each, "with the offers dependent on age, health, proof of Roundup use and other factors."
Participation in the compensation program would be limited to claimants who aren't represented by a lawyer, but any future Roundup claimant would also be free to opt out of the settlement and pursue a lawsuit against Bayer on their own.

March 2021: Reuters reported that Bayer now expects the judge to hold a hearing on May 12 on the February $2 billion deal to resolve future legal claims that its widely used weed killer Roundup causes cancer. Bayer earlier said the proposal settlement was due to be heard by March 31. It now expects a court decision on the deal towards the end of the second quarter.

Future: Roundup remains on store shelves nationwide, and the weed killer continues to be advertised in print and TV ads. Bayer is still appealing some of its earlier verdicts—and working to finalize the stalled $10.9 billion settlement. However, lawsuits against the company (and even against certain retailers of Roundup) continue to be filed.


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