In response to enormous court losses and backlash from investors, global enterprise Bayer discusses new plans to address the latest outcomes in the US Roundup weedkiller litigation, turning to additional legal counsel for litigation advice. Currently there are over 15,000 Roundup lawsuits filed in the U.S. federal court system, all alleging similar claims that glyphosate in Roundup weedkiller caused plaintiffs’ non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other cancers. Consumers, mainly groundskeepers, farmers, landscapers, and homeowners exposed to Roundup for extensive periods of time, claim that Bayer’s subsidiary Monsanto Company failed to adequately warn consumers about the risks of being exposed to glyphosate in Roundup. Some of the claims allege that Monsanto deliberately withheld information about the risk of glyphosate-caused cancer.
In their June 26 press release, Bayer informed the public of developments made during their supervisory board’s most recent meeting, most notably the creation of a supervisory board committee to monitor litigation tactics. “To this end, a newly established Supervisory Board committee will intensively monitor these topics, consult with the Board of Management and make recommendations on the litigation strategy,” the press release related. The new committee will be composed of equal numbers of shareholders and employee representatives, with the addition of eight Supervisory Board members.
Additionally, Bayer revealed their decision to retain John H. Beisner, a lawyer from Washington D.C. specializing in product liability litigation, to advise the committee on glyphosate litigation-related matters. This may include advice on strategies for mediation, which was ordered by U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria at the end of May 2019. The mediation process, guided by attorney Ken Feinberg, was ordered to see if both parties could reach a settlement to avoid remanding thousands of cases back to the states they were originally filed in for individual trial dates. “In parallel to the continued litigation of further cases, Bayer looks forward to constructively engaging in the mediation process,” the June press release stated.
Though Bayer still maintains their stance that glyphosate in Roundup is safe for consumers to use, trial verdicts have not been in their favor, with all three of the first cases to go to trial resulting in multimillion-dollar losses. One of those resulted in a landmark $2 billion award for a California couple, both suffering from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma due to long-term use of Roundup. Those closely following and analyzing the progress of this litigation suggest that if Bayer cannot reach a fair settlement for Roundup weedkiller lawsuits, the company could face an overwhelming and constant flood of trials in upcoming years, possibly facing massive, compounding losses.