Bayer reaches $10B settlement to resolve Roundup litigation
Bayer announces the agreement, and will pay up to $10.9 billion, to resolve the major Monsanto litigation. The agreement comes after years of litigation from thousands of plaintiffs who allege exposure to the weedkiller caused them to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma and other cancers.
Bayer announced on Wednesday that it will pay up to $10.9 billion to settle the vast majority of current Roundup litigation, as well as potential future litigation, involving plaintiffs claiming its popular weedkiller led to them developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma and other cancer. According to the company, the deal will bring closure to roughly 75% of the current litigation involving approximately 125,000 claims overall (1).
Bayer CEO Werner Baumann issued a statement regarding the settlement. “First and foremost, the Roundup settlement is the right action at the right time for Bayer to bring a long period of uncertainty to an end. It resolves most current claims and puts in place a clear mechanism to manage risks of potential future litigation. It is financially reasonable when viewed against the significant financial risks of continued, multi-year litigation and the related impacts to our reputation and to our business,” Baumann said.
The German pharmaceutical and life sciences behemoth acquired Monsanto for $66 billion in June 2018 and has seen their share price fall by 29% since closing the deal (2). Tens of thousands of plaintiffs began filing lawsuits against the company, fueled in part by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer’s designation of glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup, as a “probable carcinogen” in 2015. Cancer survivors who were exposed to the pesticide allege that Monsanto knew of the purported health risks involved with use of the product but failed to warn users of the risk. Bayer says the settlements contain no admission of liability or wrongdoing.
After losing three recent jury trials for combined damages of $191 million, Bayer signaled a move towards mediation last December by agreeing to postpone at least a half-dozen additional trials. The company said it assessed the alternative course of continuing to litigate the cases, including multiple trials per year with uncertain jury outcomes, as well as associated negative reputational and business impacts and costs. “Taking account of various options, I am convinced this plan provides a comprehensive, reasonable solution to the complex, contested issues presented by this litigation" (3), says John Beisner, a consultant to Bayer’s Supervisory Board.
Court-appointed mediator of the settlement talks, Ken Feinberg, also weighed in on the settlement. “The Roundup agreements are designed as a constructive and reasonable resolution to a unique litigation. The significant progress made to date – which exceeds the initial participation rates of other claims resolution proceedings – provides a robust framework that will enable the parties to bring closure to the current Roundup litigation in due course,” he adds. Any potential future litigation will be governed by a class agreement which is still subject to court approval.