Approximately 30,000 plaintiffs who allege that being exposed to Monsanto Corporation’s Roundup weedkiller over the course of several years caused them to develop a type of cancer called non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) refused to sign on to the more than $10 billion settlement Monsanto’s owner, Bayer AG, committed to paying in 2020. That settlement resolved approximately 95,000 lawsuits out of 125,000 that had been filed.
Bayer AG, which acquired Monsanto in 2018 for $63 billion, announced the settlement—the largest by a pharmaceutical company in history—after losing the first three product liability trials, which were held in 2018 and 2019. In each of those three trials, juries awarded each plaintiff tens of millions of dollars in damages.
After a pause in Roundup trials due to the coronavirus pandemic, a series of Roundup trials has been held and Bayer has been cleared of liability in each of the latest five trials. Nonetheless, things are not as optimistic as they seem for Bayer despite the German multinational corporation’s recent success defending itself in Roundup litigation.
This is because the U.S. Supreme Court has recently refused to review two of the three plaintiff verdicts. Bayer was hoping the Court would review at least one of the two lower court decisions and ultimately rule that since no federal law requires a cancer warning label to be placed on Roundup products, all judgements against Monsanto would be reversed.
And now, the federal judge overseeing the unresolved Roundup cases, which are consolidated in the same jurisdiction to avoid clogging the court system (in multidistrict litigation or MDL) is being urged by plaintiff’s attorneys to force a conclusion to the MDL. The plaintiffs want Bayer to propose another settlement.
Considering Bayer committed to paying $11 billion to resolve 95,000 cases, plaintiffs could expect Bayer to settle the outstanding 30,000 cases for roughly $4 billion, not including a sum to settle any Roundup lawsuits that will be filed in the future. Bayer’s plan to settle any future Roundup cases for $2 billion was shot down two different times by the federal judge who is overseeing the MDL.
If Bayer does not propose a fair settlement, plaintiff’s attorneys told the judge that they would like to see all unresolved cases in the MDL be sent back (remanded) to their original jurisdictions in U.S. District Courts across the country. At least 11 Roundup trials are scheduled within the next 10 months. None of those trials are a part of the MDL; they are to be tried in state courts.
Furthermore, attorneys for the plaintiffs accuse Monsanto/Bayer of doing nothing to change the labeling on Roundup products, which Bayer decided to pull off the market for non-commercial use sometime next year. Bayer is also accused of not making any meaningful attempts to resolve Roundup litigation.