Bayer Withdraws from US Settlement Proceedings

Defeat for Bayer boss Werner Baumann in the legal dispute over glyphosate: The responsible US federal judge has rejected the proposed settlement. Bayer is therefore now stepping out of the settlement procedure for possible future plaintiffs – and is putting the sale of Roundup to US private customers to the test.

The German chemical company Bayer is getting out of a US settlement procedure for possible future plaintiffs in the dispute over the glyphosate-containing weed killer Roundup – and is now putting the sale of Roundup to US private customers to the test. The company announced on Thursday night after a US federal judge in San Francisco rejected the proposal for an agreement between Bayer and plaintiffs‘ attorneys. Judge Vince Chhabria on Wednesday rejected Leverkusen’s motion to provisionally approve a settlement of future disputes against payment of two billion US dollars. For Bayer boss Werner Baumann, who bought the legal risks related to glyphosate with the purchase of the US company Monsanto…

Now Bayer needs a plan B. “The decision makes it impossible to further develop the proposed national solution mechanism under the supervision of this court, which would have been the fairest and most efficient solution for all parties,” said Bayer. The judge responsible had previously been skeptical of a settlement draft to deal with future glyphosate lawsuits in the USA.

“Five Point Plan” for dealing with possible future lawsuits
Bayer is now breaking new ground. The group presented a “five-point plan for effectively dealing with potential future glyphosate lawsuits“. This includes “legal as well as commercial steps that serve to deal with the risks from the legal complex in a way that is comparable to the solution mechanism proposed so far”.

Bayer also announced that it will be reviewing its range of glyphosate-containing herbicides such as Roundup for US private customers. “The company will continue to be active in the US private customer market, but will immediately discuss the future of glyphosate-based products in this market with partners,” said the Leverkusen-based group. “These discussions do not concern the availability of glyphosate-based products for professional users and agriculture.”

Bayer wants to settle the legal disputes over a possible carcinogenic effect of Roundup with compensation payments totaling around eleven billion dollars. About $ 9 billion of this is earmarked for around 125,000 plaintiffs whose lawsuits have already been filed or are in preparation. Two billion dollars are earmarked for possible future lawsuits.

Bayer wanted to settle the dispute with a total of $ 11 billion
Chhabria rejected the proposed solution for these future lawsuits on the grounds that such an agreement would be “unreasonable” for possible future cancer patients. The agreement would “achieve a lot” for Bayer subsidiary Monsanto, which manufactures Roundup, the judge wrote in his decision. “It would do a lot less for Roundup users who have not been diagnosed with (non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma) NHL.”

Bayer bought Monsanto in 2018 for around 54 billion euros. The dispute over the Roundup weed killer is a legal and financial burden for the Leverkusen group to this day. The market value of Bayer has temporarily halved since then, and Baumann destroyed billions of euros in shareholder capital with the purchase.

Bayer has already been sentenced to high compensation payments in three cancer lawsuits in the USA after using Roundup. It was not until mid-May that a federal appeals court in San Francisco upheld a conviction of the company to pay around 25 million dollars in damages to a plaintiff suffering from cancer.

The group denies that the weed killer is carcinogenic. The question is controversial in research. The US environmental protection agency EPA and also the regulatory authorities in the EU and Germany have come to the conclusion that glyphosate does not pose a cancer risk. On the other hand, the International Agency for Cancer Research, which belongs to the World Health Organization (WHO), stated in 2015 that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic in humans”.