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Bayer has suggested that it expects to report a surge in Roundup lawsuits filed against their Monsanto subsidiary in recent months, with estimates suggesting tens of thousands of new claims have been presented by individuals diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma caused by the weedkiller.
According to several media reports, Bayer warned investors ahead of its quarterly update due on October 30, indicating that the size of the Roundup litigation has increased dramatically since the company suffered three straight losses at trial over the past year, each resulting in massive damage awards as a result of Monsanto’s failure to warn about the cancer risk from Roundup exposure.
Earlier this year, Bayer indicated that more than 18,000 product liability lawsuits had been filed in courts nationwide. However, reports suggest that the number may now be more than 45,000 pending nationwide, with no clear indication that Bayer has a strategy in place to limit the number of Roundup claims.
In the first three Roundup claims to go before juries in the United States, Bayer and it’s Monsanto unit have been hit with multi-million dollar verdicts, which have raised awareness among consumers that non-Hodgkins lymphoma diagnosed in recent years may have been caused by Roundup. In each of the cases, the manufacturer was hit with large punitive damage awards, designed to punish Monsanto for recklessly disregarding the health and safety of consumers by withholding non-Hodgkins lymphoma warnings from Roundup users.
Bayer officials acknowledged that the court defeats and subsequent advertising for new cases, played a role in the surge in claims filed over the past few months.
Analysts from JP Morgan issued a research note on October 9, which warned that the total number of cases has increased substantially. Based on a review of data from claims filed in Missouri state court, analysts suggest that the size of the litigation may have nearly tripled.
Bayer is currently engaged in a court-ordered mediation process designed to explore a potential Roundup settlement or resolution for the litigation. However, the parties have yet to come to an agreement.
Bayer officials have said they are open to settling Roundup claims at a price they consider reasonable, if it is a cheaper alternative to fighting every case in court.
When it was believed that only 18,000 claims were pending nationwide, it was already widely acknowledged that Bayer would have to pay billions in compensation, and likely create a fund for future victims who have not yet been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Given the latency for a non-Hodgkins lymphoma diagnosis, the fund would have to be sufficient to compensate individuals diagnosed over the next decade. However, it remains unclear how the company can avoid future lawsuits if it fails to provide warnings or updated safety instructions.