Bayer Moves Closer to Settling 1000s of Roundup Cancer Lawsuits
Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Bayer has reached a tentative agreement with several law firms that collectively represent tens of thousands of plaintiffs with active lawsuits. These lawsuits allege that Bayer’s Roundup (Bayer bought Monsanto, the manufacturer of Roundup, in 2018) product causes non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Why is Bayer Considering Settlement?
For months, rumors have been circulating that Bayer would be attempting to resolve a large portion, if not all, of the outstanding Roundup claims prior to Bayer’s annual shareholders’ meeting in April. (Note: At the time of publishing, we do not know whether the global COVID-19 outbreak will affect the date of the annual meeting). By most accounts, major Bayer shareholders have been pushing for a global resolution to reduce uncertainty.
Another reason Bayer seems to be advancing towards a global settlement is that the company wants to prevent additional Roundup cases being tried before juries. The reason for this is twofold. First, after being hit with verdicts of $2 billion, $289 million, and $80 million, Bayer recognizes that juries will not hesitate to award massive verdicts to both punish Bayer and prevent other companies from similar conduct in the future.
Second, more jury verdicts against them mean more media exposure. At this point, Bayer wants to continue to sell its Roundup product despite several juries finding that the product contributed to plaintiffs’ non-Hodgkin lymphoma diagnoses. More negative press about the product may make the continued sale of the product much more difficult.
The law firms nearing large-scale settlements with Bayer are firms that represent thousands of plaintiffs and/or have won one of the significant verdicts against Bayer. Such a settlement would still leave tens of thousands of plaintiffs with hundreds, if not thousands, of law firms with active lawsuits against Bayer/Monsanto.
What will happen to those Roundup cases that are left?
For many firms, it may mean continuing to try to negotiate without the leverage of the thousands of settled cases. For Shannon Law Group clients, nothing changes. From the outset of each of our Roundup cases, our goal has always been the same – move the case toward trial.
In our experience, cases do not resolve anywhere near their value until a trial date is set. Once a trial date is set, a large company like Bayer (or any insurance company) must face the fact that they no longer have any say in determining the value of the case. Instead, a jury that has listened to all of the evidence will tell the company how much the case is worth.
For our clients, we will continue to push your cases forward. If Bayer ever decides that they want to offer a fair amount to resolve your case, we obviously will discuss the pros and cons of accepting or rejecting the offer. Until then, we will march forward towards trial.