Germany-based Bayer AG purchased Monsanto in June 2018 for $63 billion with its sights set on being a bigger fish in the highly competitive pond of agriculture-science companies, Fortune reported. Monsanto’s widely used weed killer Roundup and genetically modified crops gave the company that edge. But there was a black cloud hanging over Monsanto. Bayer just couldn’t see how dark it really was.
When Bayer acquired Monsanto, the company was facing about 3,000 lawsuits from people who alleged the active ingredient in Roundup, called glyphosate, caused them to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The lawsuits referenced the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, which in 2015 classified glyphosate as a probable carcinogen. The agency’s opinion was based in part on studies of farmers who had been exposed to glyphosate and developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Bayer underestimated the strength of the litigation and was confident the company could prevail. But in August 2018, after the first Roundup case went to trial, a California state jury awarded a school groundskeeper $285 million after finding his exposure to glyphosate caused his terminal disease. A judge later reduced the award to $78 million.
The second case to go to trial, which was the first federal trial, resulted in an $80 million verdict for the plaintiff. It was later reduced to $25.5 million. The third trial, brought by an elderly couple who both developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after regularly using Roundup around their home, resulted in a staggering $2.055 billion verdict. A judge later reduced the award to $86.7 million.
In the time since Bayer acquired Roundup, the number of cases has skyrocketed to more than 42,700. The company agreed to postpone two California trials, saying the pause will give Bayer and plaintiffs time to “engage constructively in the mediation process.”
Beasley Allen is investigating cases involving non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma related to the commercial application of Roundup/glyphosate. For more information or to discuss a possible claim, contact John Tomlinson, Danielle Ingram, Michael Dunphy or Rhon Jones.