It was quietly announced last week that consumers had a big win against corporate chemical company, Bayer, manufacturer of RoundUp glyphosate herbicide. The New York Times reports that the settlement comes in response to the threat of tens of thousands of claims against Bayer for failure to properly disclose the toxic nature of their product on the label.
The settlement covers an estimated 95,000 cases and includes $1.25 billion for potential future claims from Roundup customers who may develop the form of cancer known as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
According to Bayer’s statement on their company website:
Company will make a total payment of $10.1 billion to $10.9 billion (EUR 9.1 billion to EUR 9.8 billion) to resolve current and address potential future Roundup™ litigation / Company also resolves dicamba drift litigation for payment of up to $400 million and most PCB water litigation exposure for payment of approximately $820 million
Bayer inherited the lawsuit when they acquired Monsanto in 2018. The company statement indicates that they are pleased to minimize the financial risks and also want damage control for their reputation, while going on to claim that their product is safe:
It resolves most current claims and puts in place a clear mechanism to manage risks of potential future litigation. It is financially reasonable when viewed against the significant financial risks of continued, multi-year litigation and the related impacts to our reputation
At the same time, the extensive body of science indicates that Roundup™ does not cause cancer, and therefore, is not responsible for the illnesses alleged in this litigation. We stand strongly behind our glyphosate-based herbicides, which are among the most rigorously studied products of their kind, and four decades of science support their safety and that they are not carcinogenic.
It certainly does not seem that any lesson was learned, here, nor does the company seem to show any empathy for the tens of thousands of lives that were impacted by this product. While the company refuses to admit to any wrongdoing, and attempts to distance themselves by prominently placing this on Monsanto, they still manufacture and defend the product. This is not the first lawsuit won against Roundup. In 2018 Monsanto lost a $289 million dollar lawsuit in California when Dewayne Johnson successfully proved to the court that his Roundup had caused his cancer and the company failed to properly label.
From my perspective, it seems unlikely that Bayer would have agreed to such a large settlement if these cases were all baseless. If they felt they could win, they would definitely have put the time and money into litigation to set a precedence of failure for these types of lawsuits and try to stop a litigation superstorm. They know that they have no chance to win, so they are hoping that this action will cost them less than the individual lawsuits by luring people into smaller settlement amounts.