Bayer AG is denying that the company has offered a settlement to those claiming that their use of the company’s Roundup Weed Killer caused them to develop cancer. The denial of the $8 billion settlement was discussed in an email sent recently by Ken Feinberg, the mediator overseeing negotiations, to the media.
According to Feinberg, the company did propose a settlement of $8 billion to end all the cancer claims related to Roundup in the United States. He called the possibility “pure fiction,” and said that the parties have not even discussed compensation.
The company is involved in ongoing litigation and mediation concerning its Roundup herbicide and other glyphosate-based products like it, which plaintiffs claim caused them to develop cancer.
Bayer acquired Roundup and the other products in question in 2018 via a takeover of Monsanto, the original maker of Roundup.
Bayer Willing to Settle If It Ends All Litigation Efforts
The company’s chief executive, Werner Baumann, did say following the rumor that the company might think about settling with plaintiffs in the United States on reasonable terms, but only if it concludes litigation concerning Roundup. He also noted that Bayer is engaged in court-ordered mediation with Feinberg concerning federal cases.
The majority of Roundup and glyphosate cases were filed in state courts.
The company has suffered financially since acquiring Monsanto in 2018 and shares have dropped by approximately a third. The biggest drop occurred last summer after a California jury determined that Monsanto was responsible for warning consumers about the carcinogenic nature of Roundup. Bayer’s market value fell below what it paid for its acquisition of Monsanto after the ruling, but that number has since risen.
According to sources close to the negotiations, verdicts such as these have hurt Bayer and led to plaintiffs having high expectations. Many are unwilling to negotiate because they know they stand a decent chance of receiving a significant award should their case go to trial.
Several cases are pending at the state and federal levels, but the next that is scheduled to be heard in St. Louis, Missouri has been postponed until the end of January 2020. There was also a case originally scheduled in September this year was postponed, as well. Bayer wanted the delays in order to allow settlement talks to proceed undisturbed.
Some speculate that having the cases heard in Missouri could benefit Bayer because it is where the company headquarters its global seed business and where Monsanto was based. However, the state is known for having juries that award high damages.
Bayer Stands Behind Roundup and Glyphosate
Bayer continues to say that glyphosate is safe and that regulators have backed them up on this claim. It was expecting that the court rulings issued thus far would be overturned or “toned down” by appeals courts. At least three have ended with plaintiffs receiving awards in the multi- tens of millions of dollars range.
According to Bloomberg, Bayer has said it would be willing to pay $6 to $8 billion to plaintiffs if they are willing to drop their lawsuits, but plaintiffs’ attorneys are seeking at least $10 billion. Another challenge in settling concerns future cases – those who have used Roundup but have not yet developed cancer but could in the future.
The number of plaintiffs has continued to rise and recently reached more than 18,000.