Another defeat in the US court: Bayer withdraws from settlement proceedings

Another defeat in the US court
Bayer withdraws from settlement proceedings

Again Bayer has to accept a defeat in the glyphosate dispute: A US judge rejects the proposal of two billion dollars as compensation for future plaintiffs as “unreasonable”. The Leverkusen-based group is responding with a five-point plan for dealing with further lawsuits.

The German chemical company Bayer is getting out of a US settlement procedure for possible future plaintiffs in the dispute over the glyphosate-containing weed killer Roundup – and is putting the sale of Roundup to US private customers to the test. The company announced this after a federal judge in San Francisco rejected the proposal for an agreement between Bayer and plaintiffs’ attorneys.

“The decision makes it impossible to further develop the proposed national solution mechanism under the supervision of this court, which would have been the fairest and most efficient solution for all parties,” said Bayer.

Instead, the group presented a “five-point plan for effectively dealing with potential future glyphosate lawsuits”. This includes “legal as well as commercial steps that serve to deal with the risks from the legal complex in a way that is comparable to the solution mechanism proposed so far”.

Bayer also announced that it will be reviewing its range of glyphosate-containing herbicides such as Roundup for US private customers. “The company will continue to be active in the US private customer market, but will immediately discuss the future of glyphosate-based products in this market with partners,” said the Leverkusen-based group. “These discussions do not concern the availability of glyphosate-based products for professional users and agriculture.”

Bayer wants to settle the legal disputes about a possible carcinogenic effect of Roundup with compensation payments totaling around eleven billion dollars. About $ 9 billion of this is earmarked for around 125,000 plaintiffs whose lawsuits have already been filed or are in preparation. Two billion dollars are earmarked for possible future lawsuits.

Monsanto legacy remains a great burden

However, federal judge Vince Chhabria in San Francisco rejected the proposed solution for these future lawsuits on Wednesday. The agreement is simply “unreasonable” for possible future cancer patients. The agreement would “achieve a lot” for Bayer subsidiary Monsanto, which manufactures Roundup, the judge wrote in his decision. “It would do a lot less for Roundup users who have not yet been diagnosed with (non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma) NHL.”

Bayer bought Monsanto in 2018 for around 54 billion euros. The dispute over the Roundup weed killer is a legal and financial burden for the Leverkusen group to this day. Bayer has been sentenced to high compensation payments in the USA in three cancer lawsuits after using Roundup. It was not until mid-May that a federal appeals court in San Francisco upheld a conviction of the company to pay around 25 million dollars in damages to a plaintiff suffering from cancer.

The group denies that the weed killer is carcinogenic. The question is controversial in research. The US environmental protection agency EPA and also the regulatory authorities in the EU and Germany have come to the conclusion that glyphosate does not pose a cancer risk. In contrast, the International Agency for Cancer Research, which is part of the World Health Organization (WHO), stated in 2015 that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic in humans”.