Bayer and Monsanto Agree to Go to Mediation in Roundup Case
A federal judge has ordered Bayer AG to enter into mediation to attempt to settle thousands of lawsuits filed on behalf of plaintiffs who claim that Roundup weed killer caused them to develop cancer. Bayer, which acquired Roundup maker, Monsanto, for $63 billion in 2018, has announced that it will comply with the order handed down by U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria, the judge overseeing the Roundup multidistrict litigation (MDL). The formal order of mediation comes as Bayer faces more than 11,000 lawsuits pending in state and federal courts over side effects of Roundup, which has been linked to an increased risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. If you have been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma or another type of cancer, and you believe Roundup to be the cause, consult an experienced Roundup cancer attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.
Glyphosate “Probably Carcinogenic to Humans”
Roundup’s active ingredient, glyphosate, was first developed by Monsanto in the 1970s and in the past ten years, glyphosate has become the most widely-used agricultural pesticide in the world, sold in more than 160 countries. In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) determined that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans,” and concerns about the potential risk of cancer from Roundup exposure have increased since then. Still, the makers of Roundup have been unwavering in their support of the weed killer’s safety and were quick to attack the IARC’s finding. Monsanto’s Vice President, Scott Partridge, stated in 2018: “More than 800 scientific studies, the U.S. EPA, the National Institutes of Health and regulators around the world have concluded that glyphosate is safe for use and does not cause cancer.”
Monsanto’s Attempt to Undermine Scientific Research
Following the IARC report, individuals diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other cancers began pursuing lawsuits against Monsanto, alleging that the company failed to warn about the potential risk of cancer from Roundup exposure. It was also revealed through a collection of unsealed company reports, memos and emails, collectively dubbed “The Monsanto Papers,” that Monsanto had ghostwritten studies contradicting the IARC’s finding that glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen, manipulated research to conceal the potential health risks of glyphosate, and colluded with the EPA to declare that glyphosate is “not likely to be carcinogenic” to humans and prevent other government agencies from analyzing glyphosate’s safety.
Significant Jury Awards in Roundup Lawsuits
There have already been two significant jury verdicts for Roundup plaintiffs, the first delivered last summer in a case involving a former California groundskeeper who was diagnosed with terminal cancer after using Roundup 20 to 30 times per year at work. Plaintiff Dewayne Johnson’s case was the first to go to trial because he was so near death, there was no guarantee he would make it to court if forced to wait. The San Francisco jury awarded Johnson $39 million in compensatory damages and $250 million in punitive damages, for a total of $289 million, though the award was later reduced to $78 million.
In another landmark Roundup trial, a jury in March 2019 awarded more than $80 million in damages to a California man who used the weed killer to treat poison oak and overgrowth on his property for years. Judge Chhabria classified Hardeman’s case as a “bellwether trial,” meaning the outcome of the case could potentially determine whether the defendants would continue fighting these lawsuits or agree to a settlement. Even after losing those first two trials over Roundup and cancer, Bayer was still determined to fight the litigation and defend the safety of its blockbuster weed killer. Judge Chhabria issued the mediation order in hopes that it would move the parties involved in the Roundup litigation closer to a settlement agreement.
Bayer Continues to Defend Glyphosate’s Safety
In response to Chhabria’s order, Bayer agreed to try mediation, but the company stated that it still believes strongly in the “extensive body of reliable science supporting the safety of Roundup” and will continue “defending the safety of glyphosate-based herbicides in court.” In the meantime, the third Roundup trial is currently underway in California, in a case involving a wife diagnosed with brain cancer and a husband suffering from a cancer affecting his pelvis and spine, both of whom blame their diseases on their regular use of Roundup on multiple properties they owned from the mid-1970s until just a few years ago.