News outlets are abuzz about rumors that Bayer AG is offering $8 billion to settle more than 18,000 lawsuits that claim that the active ingredient glyphosate in the company’s weed killer Roundup causes cancer. But special master Kenneth Feinberg, hired in May to mediate settlement discussions for the multidistrict litigation (MDL), said there is no truth to those rumors.
“That story is pure fiction,” he told Law360.
Even if the $8 billion offer were true, it is less than the $10 billion lawyers representing plaintiffs requested.
Bayer acquired Monsanto last year and since then has faced – and lost – three trials, each garnering multi-million- or billion-dollar verdicts. In all cases, plaintiffs alleged they developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system, after being exposed to Roundup.
In the first trial, a San Francisco jury awarded a school groundskeeper $289 million. The award was later reduced to $78 million. The second trial resulted in an $80 million verdict, which was later reduced to $25 million. The last case brought by a couple who were both sickened resulted in a $2.055 billion verdict reduced last month to $86.7 million.
Two retailers who sold the products – Home Depot and Lowe’s – have also been named in proposed class actions alleging they failed to warn consumers that the products could cause cancer.
The prospect of an $8 billion settlement sent fledgling Bayer stocks up 4.7% late last week. “Eight billion dollars would be lower than most analysts are forecasting and many investors fearing,” Baader Helvea analyst Markus Mayer told Bloomberg.
In 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified glyphosate as a probable carcinogen. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) disagrees.
Beasley Allen is investigating cases involving non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma related to the commercial application of Roundup/glyphosate. For more information, contact John Tomlinson or Rhon Jones in our Toxic Torts Section.