Ten-billion dollars may not be enough for Bayer to settle the bulk of 125,000 Roundup Weed Killer cancer lawsuits. Back in June, the German drug and chemical giant pledged that amount to resolve lawsuits that hitherto had been filed. But in order to settle future lawsuits, the company announced on Nov. 3, the amount needed would likely cost an additional $2 billion.
This poses more bad financial woes for the company that acquired Monsanto in 2018 for $63 billion, roughly around the same time the first Roundup trial commenced. In that trial, a jury found Monsanto’s conduct and the active ingredients in Roundup, including glyphosate, caused former school groundskeeper, Dwayne “Lee” Johnson to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Monsanto was ordered to pay Johnson $289 million. (That award has been twice slashed to $20 million.) Bayer appealed the Johnson case as well as the two others that have gone to trial, both of which have also resulted in big money damage awards for the plaintiffs.
Recently, the California Supreme Court refused to review the Johnson case. Also, late last month, attorneys for Monsanto-Bayer failed to persuade a circuit court judge that the first federal lawsuit against Monsanto, which resulted in an $80 million award for the plaintiff, Edwin Hardeman, should be overturned. (Hardeman’s award was later reduced to $25 million.)
Bayer also recently missed a deadline to settle nearly 1,900 out of 3,781 federal lawsuits, which opens the door for those trials to resume. The bulk of the 125,000 Roundup lawsuits filed are at the state level, thus the federal lawsuits are not part of the $10 billion settlement.
Bayer also announced Nov. 3 that despite reaching agreements in principle to settle 88,500 claims, it can’t say with absolute certainty that the final number of claims will be 125,000. Due to the recent court decisions mentioned above, more Roundup users may decide to file claims.
The $2 billion extra Bayer said it would spend to settle future lawsuits is $750 million higher than its original plan for any claims that have yet to be filed. Bayer is still working on a plan B to settle future claims, after the judge presiding over unresolved claims scoffed at the company’s plan to have a scientific panel decide on whether or not glyphosate is carcinogenic, rather than let a jury decide.