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Bayer faces a new investor lawsuit over its acquisition of Monsanto, which the complaint claims was “disastrous” and cost the company more in legal woes than it was worth, amid the mounting liability costs associated with Roundup lawsuits being pursued by former users of the controversial weedkiller who developed non-Hodgkins lymphoma, as well as other claims.
The investor complaint was filed in New York state court last week, according to a recent report by Bloomberg News. The lead plaintiff on the complaint, investor Rebecca Haussmann, claims that Bayer executives went ahead with the purchase of Monsanto in the summer of 2018, despite clear warning signs of looming legal problems.
According to information released by Bayer last month, the company now faces claims brought by nearly 50,000 individuals nationwide who claim that Monsanto withheld information about the cancer risk from Roundup for decades. Other estimates have placed that number closer to 75,000, and the Roundup liability costs may ultimately exceed $10 billion.
Bayer suffered massive losses in the first three Roundup cases that went before juries last year, leading to substantial pressure to negotiate Roundup settlements to avoid even more losses in future trials. However, the investor complaint notes that the legal problems have already cost Bayer more than 30% of its stock value, wiping out the entire value of the Monsanto purchase.
Haussmann is seeking both compensatory and punitive damages, and also calls for the disgorgement of the pay given to executives who pursued the Monsanto purchase.
Given common questions of fact and law raised in claims filed in U.S. District Courts nationwide, the federal Roundup litigation has been centralized in the Northern District of California, where U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria is presiding over coordinated discovery and a series of early bellwether trials designed to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout the cases. In addition, several large waves of claims are being prepared for remand back to U.S. District Courts nationwide for individual trial dates.
For months, there has been speculation that Bayer is close to reaching settlement agreements with certain lawyers that may resolve most of all of the Roundup litigation. However, when releasing earnings information last month, the company indicates that no deal has been reached and that there is no firm time-line for negotiations.
Analysts have predicted that any settlement would not only require billions in compensation for individuals already diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, but the company will likely face continuing claims as other consumer continue to be diagnosed following prior exposure.