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After a federal judge previously signaled that an attempt to bind individuals not yet diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma from Roundup to a class action settlement may not be proper or fair, Bayer has revised the deal and increased the compensation that it will pay to resolve cases diagnosed over the next four years.
In June 2020, Bayer announced that it would spend more than $10 billion in Roundup settlements, which the manufacturer indicated would resolve most pending lawsuits filed by individuals diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma following exposure to the weedkiller, and included $1.25 billion set aside to address future claims.
While individual settlements are moving forward for previously diagnosed and filed claims, the U.S. District Judge presiding over the federal litigation expressed skepticism about the “propriety and fairness” of a proposed class action settlement that would bind individuals not yet diagnosed with cancer, and limit their right to pursue lawsuits through the court system in the future.
As a result, the proposed Roundup class action settlement was withdrawn by the parties, and additional negotiations have been ongoing over the past six months.
In a motion for preliminary approval (PDF) filed on February 3, the parties outlined the key features of a new proposal to settle Roundup non-Hodgkins lymphoma cases diagnosed in the future, including an increase in the total funding up to $2 billion and a resolution program where class members do not lose the right to file a lawsuit if they decide not to accept the amount awarded.
“The present agreement has been rebuilt from the studs on up,” according to the 83 page proposal submitted by lawyers. “First, and foremost, the present agreement is based on conventional notions of claim resolution rather than issue preclusive determination. The new Settlement contains a straightforward compensation fund to make offers to class members who have or develop NHL, together with a broad program of diagnostic assistance for NHL risk and other programmatic benefits.”
Key features include a compensation fund that will be optional for individuals diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, providing awards that will range between $10,000 and $200,000 per person in exchange for a release. However, if they choose not to participate, future claimants maintain their right to file a Roundup lawsuit against Bayer and it’s Monsanto subsidiary.
The program would also include free legal assistance and representation to help navigate and evaluate the settlement benefits, a diagnostic testing program and outreach efforts to bring users of Roundup into the diagnostic and compensation programs.
Under terms of the Roundup settlement, Monsanto will also seek permission from the EPA to include information on the weedkiller label about the link between Roundup and non-Hodgkins lymphoma, as well as a link to information about whether exposure causes the cancer.
Bayer has agreed to a 60% increase in the amount that will be paid to fund the settlement, with up to $2 billion in payments over the first four years. After this initial period expires, the parties may seek to extend the settlement, with additional funding provided above the initial $2 billion.