Roundup Plaintiffs Negotiate Record Settlement of Thousands of Claims

In a massive and highly complex legal settlement covering the majority of the claims against Monsanto, a U.S. company that makes the weedkiller Roundup, its parent, Bayer Corporation, will pay nearly $11B to settle approximately 95,000 claims and set aside $1.25 billion for potential claims from Roundup customers who may develop cancer in the future.  Roundup is alleged to cause non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and plaintiffs will receive, depending on the strength of their cases, payments of $5,000 to $250,000.  Bayer had revenue of $49 billion in 2019, and bought Monsanto in 2018 for $63B — analysts said a settlement of $10B would be fair, according to CBS News.  Mediator Ken Feinberg, who also helped dole out settlement money in the BP Deepwater Horizon case, was instrumental.

Why This Matters: This must end the debate about whether Roundup can still be sold to consumers.  Now the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should do its job and get these products containing toxic glyphosate off the shelf and protect people, not corporations.  Instead, the agency maintains that “there are no risks of concern to human health when glyphosate is used according to the label and that it is not a carcinogen.”  We doubt the EPA will change direction, even if Bayer has. But that does not make it right.

Thousands of Lawsuits, Many Losses

Last year, a jury in California awarded more than $2 billion to a couple who sued Monsanto saying that exposure to the weed-killer Roundup caused them to contract cancer, including $55 million in “compensatory” damages to make them whole for their injuries, and $2 billion in punitive damages to punish Monsanto for its reckless disregard for human health. The plaintiff’s case relied heavily on a 2015 Report by the World Health Organization that concludes that the chemical in Roundup, glyphosate, is “probably carcinogenic to humans.” Thousands of similar cases were pending in courts all over the country.  Mr. Feinberg is an expert at resolving complex, multi-jurisdictional cases like this one and overseeing the process of payouts for all those seeking redress.  Juries also found Monsanto liable in two other cases with big payouts, though judges in each case reduced the awards.  These cases are on appeal now and were not part of the settlement.

Other Case Settlements

In an effort to wipe the slate clean, Bayer also settled two other sets of cases.  The company announced it will spend up to $400 million to settle claims stemming from another Monsanto pesticide, dicamba, that can drift after it is sprayed and damage other crops. Just over a week ago, Bayer said it will scrap a nearly $1 billion project to produce the chemical dicamba after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the sale and use of the herbicide, stating that “the EPA substantially understated the risks related to the use of dicamba,” a chemical found in herbicides that are sprayed on genetically engineered soybeans and cotton. Bayer also agreed to an $820 million settlement of longstanding lawsuits related to toxic chemicals known as PCBs in drinking water.

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