Bayer Indicates Resolving Roundup Lawsuits in 2024 is a Priority, Amid Continuing Trials and Verdicts

Settlements have been reached to resolve 113,000 Roundup lawsuits to date, according to the manufacturer, which continues to face more than 50,000 outstanding claims.

A top Bayer executive told investors this week that resolving Roundup lawsuits is one of the company’s priorities over the next two to three years, due to the high ongoing costs associated with litigation over the failure to warn about the risk of non-Hodgkins lympoma. However, that does not mean the company is ready to settle, as it continues to attempt to defend the safety of the controversial weed killer.

The comments were made by Bayer Chief Executive Officer Bill Anderson on March 5, during a fourth quarter earnings call with investors. Anderson admitted the litigation has been a massive financial burden on the company, since it acquired the original manufacturer Monsanto, with other Bayer officials indicating Roundup litigation is costing the company about $5.4 billion on average every year.

Over the past eight years, more than 167,000 Roundup lawsuits have been filed throughout the U.S., Bayer officials told investors, each raising similar allegations that users were not adequately warned about the risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma from the weed killer, either when using the product in an agricultural setting or around the home.

The litigation emerged in 2015, when the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) decided to classify glyphosate in Roundup as a probable cancer-causing agent. However, even after resolving tens of thousands of cases, Bayer and Monsanto has continued to face a steady stream of jury trials involving plaintiffs who rejected settlement offers, as well as new claims that continue to be filed as former users develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

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During the earnings call, Bayer officials indicated that the company has either settled or otherwise resolved about 113,000 Roundup cancer lawsuits. They estimate the company still faces about 54,000 remaining claims.

The officials indicate Bayer has about $6.3 billion set aside for Roundup settlements. However, Anderson told investors the company still plans to vigorously defend itself in the litigation, adding that the company intends to appeal every “unfavorable” verdict.

Anderson also suggested that the company may strongly lobby for changes in public policy in order to thwart the litigation, claiming the company still believes glyphosate is safe.

State Roundup Lawsuit Trials Continue

The statements come as Roundup lawsuits continue to be tried in state courts nationwide. In early February, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit rejected an effort by Bayer to claim it was shielded from liability for Roundup cancer diagnoses due to federal law, signaling that the claims can continue to move forward.

On March 1, Bayer won a defense verdict in a trial in Arkansas state court, while another Roundup cancer trial in Delaware state court ended in a hung jury on the same day, and was declared a mistrial. However, those outcomes following the largest Roundup lawsuit verdict to date, $2.2 billion, handed down by a Pennsylvania state court jury in late January. That verdict was preceded by a $1.5 billion verdict in November 2023, and after a slew of others plaintiff victories last year.

Given the manufacturers’ failure to consistently defend the safety of their product at trial, combined with the substantial damage awards often provided by juries after considering the evidence, settlements paid to date may only represent a small portion of the total liability the manufacturer faces if it fails to resolve Roundup lawsuits in advance of trial.

Most of the U.S. cases are currently pending in Missouri state court, where Monsanto’s U.S. headquarters are located and it remains a major employer. However, there are also hundreds of claims are currently centralized in the federal court system before U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in the Northern District of California, where several large waves of claims are being prepared for remand to different federal district court for trial.

Image Credit: Image via Lukassek / Shutterstock.com

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