Wednesday, June 24, 2020

30,000 suits against weed-killer still in play

Bayer, parent of Monsanto, agrees to pay $10 billion to thousands who claim Roundup caused their cancer

Bayer AG has unexpectedly agreed to pay $10 billion in cancer settlements in regard to the world's most widely used weed-killer.

According to a story by Hannah Denham in The Washington Post, the German company, the world's largest seed and agrochemical maker that had merged with agribusiness giant Monsanto in a $63 billion deal, "will allocate between $8.8 billion and $9.6 billion to resolve the current Roundup litigation."

That will cover "75 percent of the 125,000 current filed and unfixed claims that the product leads to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma" — meaning that some 30,000 suits remain unsettled.

Judge Vince Chhabria
In addition, Bayer "will also pay $1.25 billion for a separate class agreement for potential future claims, which will be subject to approval in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California by Judge Vince Chhabria," Denham's piece reports.

Although agreed to, the settlements have yet to be signed and sealed.

At the time of the 2018 merger, and since, Monsanto has "maintained that glyphosate — the active weed-killing ingredient in Roundup — had a history of safe use, and Bayer has echoed that since its acquisition."

In 2015, however, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, an arm of the World Health Organization, proclaimed that the herbicide was "probably carcinogenic to humans."

Details of the settlements became public today, only one day after U.S. District Judge William Shubb, ignoring the verdicts of three California juries against Monsanto, had issued a permanent injunction against the state's requiring a warning label on the pesticide.

Plaintiffs in those cases had won nearly $300 million. Monsanto, however, will continue to appeal all of them, and the settlements — which involved negotiations with 25 different law firms — do not apply to any of the three.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs, according to EcoWatch, an environmental website, had “argued that the [Environmental Protection Agency's earlier] insistence that Roundup does not cause cancer is spurious since there was evidence the company had unduly influenced the federal agency and had ‘ghost-written’ purported research studies on the product’s safety.” 

EcoWatch strongly suggested that the settlement, one of the largest ever in U.S. civil litigation, came about because of "the spate of lawsuits and their legal fees [that made Bayer] lose 40 percent of its value."

The plaintiffs also alleged, the website's story said, that “Bayer manipulated studies and deceived the scientific community to make glyphosate seem safer than it actually is, according to Reuters.”

The Post article noted meanwhile that "Bayer said that the settlement was a unanimous decision from the company's board of management, supervisory board and input from the special litigation committee, adding that the settlement doesn't mean an admission of liability or wrongdoing."

The piece indicated further that "chief executive Werner Baumann said in a statement that the action allows the company to 'bring a long period of uncertainty to an end.'" 

More information on court cases alleging that products cause disease can be found in "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.

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