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Turns out that, contrary to claims, it wasn’t safe after all: Roundup Maker to Pay $10 Billion to Settle Cancer Suits

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Patricia Cohen reports in the NY Times:

Bayer, the world’s largest seed and pesticide maker, has agreed to pay more than $10 billion to settle tens of thousands of claims in the United States that its popular weedkiller Roundup causes cancer, the company said Wednesday.

The figure includes $1.25 billion to deal with potential future claims from people who used Roundup and may develop the form of cancer known as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in the years to come.

“It’s rare that we see a consensual settlement with that many zeros on it,” said Nora Freeman Engstrom, a professor at Stanford University Law School.

Bayer, a German company, inherited the legal morass when it bought Roundup’s manufacturer, Monsanto, for $63 billion in June 2018. It has repeatedly maintained that Roundup is safe and will continue to sell the product without adding a warning on the label.

The settlement, which covers an estimated 95,000 cases, was extraordinarily complex because it includes separate agreements with 25 lead law firms whose clients will receive varying amounts.

Most of the lawsuits filed early on were brought by homeowners and groundskeepers, although they account for only a tiny portion of Roundup’s sales. Farmers are the biggest customers, and many agricultural associations contend glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup, is safe and effective.

Bayer still faces at least 25,000 claims from plaintiffs who have not agreed to be part of the settlement.

“This is nothing like the closure they’re trying to imply,” said Fletch Trammell, a Houston-based lawyer who said he represented 5,000 claimants not taking part in the settlement. “It’s like putting out part of a house fire.”

But Kenneth R. Feinberg, the Washington lawyer who oversaw the mediation process, said he expected most current plaintiffs to eventually join the settlement. . .

Continue reading. There’s more.

Later in the article:

Part of the $1.25 billion will be used to establish an independent expert panel to resolve two critical questions about glyphosate: Does it cause cancer, and if so, what is the minimum dosage or exposure level that is dangerous?

If the panel concludes that glyphosate is a carcinogen, Bayer will not be able to argue otherwise in future cases — and if the experts reach the opposite conclusion, the class action’s lawyers will be similarly bound.

Pressure on Bayer for a settlement has been building over the past year after thousands of lawsuits piled up and investors grew more vocal about their discontent with the company’s legal approach.

Just weeks after the deal to purchase Monsanto was completed in 2018, a jury in a California state court awarded $289 million to Dewayne Johnson, a school groundskeeper, after concluding that glyphosate caused his cancer. Monsanto, jurors said, had failed to warn consumers of the risk.

In March 2019, a second trial, this time in federal court in California, produced a similar outcome for Edwin Hardeman, a homeowner who used Roundup on his property, and an $80 million verdict.

Two months later, a third jury delivered a staggering award of more than $2 billion to a couple, Alva and Alberta Pilliod, who argued that decades of using Roundup caused their non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

“Plaintiffs have gone to the plate three times and hit it out of the park,” Ms. Engstrom at Stanford said. “When you see they’re batting a thousand, and thousands more cases are waiting in the wings, that spells a very bleak picture for Monsanto.”

All three monetary awards were later reduced by judges and Bayer appealed the verdicts, but the losses rattled investors and the stock price tumbled sharply. Those cases are unaffected by Wednesday’s settlement.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 June 2020 at 12:56 pm

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