Roundup mediator ‘cautiously optimistic’ that a settlement will be reached in ballooning Roundup litigation
Having lost three jury trials in California for combined damages of $191 million, Bayer signaled a move towards mediation in December by agreeing to postpone at least a half-dozen additional trials – some of which were scheduled to start this month.
Bayer AG, the German pharmaceutical and life sciences behemoth that acquired Monsanto in 2018 for $63 billion, may be only weeks away from settling tens of thousands of lawsuits from plaintiffs claiming its Roundup weedkiller led to them developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma and other cancer. According to Bloomberg, in an interview last Thursday mediator Ken Feinberg stated he remains “cautiously optimistic” a deal with Bayer will be reached.
Feinberg, a prominent attorney who specializes in mediation and alternative dispute resolution, has administered a number of high-profile settlements and funds, including the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, One Fund for victims of the Boston Marathon bombings, the Aurora Victim Relief Fund, and BP Oil Spill Fund. In May, 2019 a U.S. judge appointed Feinberg as mediator of the massive and complex Roundup federal litigation.
Bayer signals move toward resolution
Having lost three jury trials in California for combined damages of $191 million, Bayer signaled a move towards mediation in December by agreeing to postpone at least a half-dozen additional trials – some of which were scheduled to start this month. Bayer disclosed in its third quarter report that it was facing 42,700 claims, though Feinberg estimates that number has since grown to between 75,000 and 85,000 and “maybe more” (1). Bayer’s chief executive said he would consider a “financially reasonable” settlement if the company can end all litigation.
The company’s lawyers have held meetings with several attorneys representing plaintiffs across the U.S., focusing on resolving separate groups of Roundup claims as opposed to creating a global resolution program (2). Feinberg confirmed the meetings in his Thursday interview, adding, “There are talks with various lawyers around the nation who have significant inventories of Roundup cases. I’m optimistic we can reach a comprehensive settlement of this litigation” (3).
One of the attorneys Feinberg is negotiating with is Michael Miller of The Miller Firm in Orange, Virginia. Mr. Miller served as lead counsel in the first Roundup case to go to trial, resulting in a $289 million verdict for school groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson. Miller also served as lead counsel in the third Roundup trial, which dealt a major blow to Bayer after a jury handed a California couple a $2 billion verdict, though this was later reduced by a judge to $86.7 million. Miller said his firm and another have more than 16,000 cases nationwide (4).
Though Feinberg stated a deal could potentially be reached “within the next month,” he also underscored the fact that resolving all Roundup cases is a massive undertaking. “The effort continues, it is a full-time preoccupation, he adds. “We shall see, I’ve been wrong before.”
It’s not too late
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