Plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Bayer Pharmaceutical scored one of the largest settlements ever in U.S. civil litigation when they reached a deal for $10 billion on Wednesday. The settlement, which covers an estimated 95,000 cases and includes $1.25 billion for potential future claims, stems from allegations that Bayer’s Roundup Weed Killer caused consumers to develop a form of cancer known as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with leukemia or lymphatic cancer after prolonged exposure to Roundup, there may be a legal claim for compensation.
Roundup weed killer is largely used by farmers, although homeowners and groundskeepers were among the first plaintiffs in lawsuits brought early on against the original maker of the product, Monsanto. Bayer acquired Monsanto two years ago for $63 billion and inherited the legal firestorm over Roundup, which set off a series of walloping jury verdicts in favor of the plaintiffs. Just weeks after acquiring Monsanto in 2018, a California jury awarded $289 million to a school groundskeeper after concluding that a chemical in the popular weed killer caused his cancer. The following year, another California jury awarded $80 million to a homeowner who used Roundup on his property. Two months later, a third jury delivered a staggering award of more than $2 billion to a couple who both developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after using Roundup for decades.
While all three monetary awards were later reduced by judges, the writing was on the wall for Bayer: investors were frustrated with the legal response to the lawsuits, and Bayer’s stock price plummeted. Last year, Bayer agreed to negotiate with plaintiffs, although it repeatedly maintained that Roundup is safe. Wednesday’s settlement does not formally change that position; Bayer may continue to sell the product without adding warning labels about its safety.
Indeed, many agricultural associations contend that glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup, is safe, effective, and better than available alternatives. But a 2015 bombshell announcement by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, an arm of the World Health Organization, concluded that glyphosate could “probably” cause cancer. American juries, for their part, agreed with the WHO and found that glyphosate caused the plaintiffs’ cancer in the earlier lawsuits against Monsanto. Thus, part of the $1.25 billion set aside in Wednesday’s settlement will be used to establish an independent expert panel to resolve two critical questions about glyphosate: (1) does it cause cancer, and if so (2) what is the minimum dosage or exposure level that is dangerous?
Until then, Bayer faces an uphill battle of litigation over multiple Monsanto products. While Wednesday’s settlement will compensate plaintiffs in varying payments of $5,000 to $250,000, depending on the strength of their cases, Bayer still faces at least 30,000 claims from plaintiffs who have not agreed to join the settlement. As it continues to grapple with Roundup lawsuits, Bayer announced on Wednesday that it would separately spend up to $400 million to settle claims stemming from another Monsanto chemical, dicamba. It also stated that it will set aside $820 million to settle longstanding lawsuits over polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), toxic chemicals found in the water supply despite being banned in the United States four decades ago.
Wednesday’s settlement is a resounding victory for plaintiffs injured by Roundup weed killer. If you or someone you know have been exposed to Roundup through occupational or home garden use and have a form of lymphatic cancer, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact Allen & Allen today for a free case evaluation.