This article was updated on June 27, 2022.
After seeing its stock value plummet and paying $11 billion to resolve nearly 100,000 Roundup cancer lawsuits, Bayer AG, has recently enjoyed a psychological boost.
After losing three high-profile consumer Roundup lawsuits in 2018 and 2019 that paid each plaintiff tens of millions in damages, Bayer has successfully defended itself in the last four trials, including a jury verdict that was returned on June 18 in Oregon that found that a man’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was not caused by long-term exposure to the weedkiller.
But Bayer’s recent stroke of good fortune may be short-lived. On June 17, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reexamine its findings that glyphosate, the main active ingredient in Roundup, is not harmful to health and not likely to cause cancer.
Bayer, which purchased Roundup’s original manufacturer, the Monsanto Corporation in 2018 for $63 billion, has claimed in all seven trials that because the EPA has ruled that glyphosate is safe in all applications as long as the directions are followed, a cancer warning label is not required in California or other states.
If the EPA, which is seemingly more friendly to Roundup plaintiffs under the Biden Administration than under the Trump administration, revises its findings and includes more recent research that shows the possible health risks of glyphosate, it could undermine Bayer’s central legal strategy.
Another blow to Bayer’s attempts to resolve any future Roundup lawsuits with one fell swoop came recently when the U.S. Supreme Court was recommended by the Biden Administration’s U.S. Solicitor General to not review Hardeman vs Monsanto, which awarded plaintiff Edwin Hardeman $25 million in damages in the second Roundup trial.
Had the Solicitor General recommended that the nation’s high court review the case, and had the Supreme Court followed that recommendation, the conservative-leaning, business-friendly court may have reversed the decision. This hypothetical reversal of the Hardeman decision may have resulted in the dismissal of all 30,000 similar unresolved Roundup claims. Approximately 4,000 claims are consolidated in federal multidistrict litigation with the rest at the state level.
In other Roundup news that’s not very favorable for Bayer, a judge ordered 100 Roundup claims consolidated into a class action in Philadelphia, home of chemicals maker, Nouryon, which produces glyphosate for use in Roundup.
Update: On June 21, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it has decided not to review the Hardeman decision, letting the $25 million verdict stand. In a statement, Bayer announced, “The company believes that the decision undermines the ability of companies to rely on official actions taken by expert regulatory agencies, as it permits every U.S. state to require a different product label” in conflict with federal laws.
Update: On June 27, the U.S. Supreme Court said it would not review another lower court Roundup decision from 2021, in which the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in California, awarded $87 million to Albert and Alva Pilliod, a married couple that both developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after years of using Roundup without protective gear because the product had no warning label.