Choose suggests warning label as a part of $2 billion plan to restrict Roundup claims By Reuters
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A bridge is decorated with the logo of a Bayer AG, a German pharmaceutical and chemical manufacturer in Wuppertal, on August 9, 2019. REUTERS / Wolfgang Rattay / File Photo
From Tom Hals
(Reuters) – A US judge suggested this on Wednesday Bayer AG (EN 🙂 add a warning label on Roundup as part of a proposed $ 2 billion deal to clear future claims that the best-selling weedkiller is causing cancer.
Bayer (OTC 🙂 has spent years allocating $ 9.6 billion to resolving legal disputes alleging non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was caused by Roundup, a glyphosate-based herbicide it used in its Inherited acquisition of $ 63 billion Monsanto (NYSE 🙂 in 2018.
The company has said decades of studies have shown Roundup and glyphosate are safe for human use.
On Wednesday, the company sought preliminary approval from U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in San Francisco for a separate $ 2 billion deal to create a framework for resolving legal disputes from people who will get sick in the future.
“For years I’ve wondered why Monsanto wouldn’t do this voluntarily to protect itself,” Chhabria said of a warning sign. He said a label would prevent future lawsuits and free up money that could be used to create a better settlement offer for those already exposed.
He even suggested the formulation of a label and tweaked it when receiving feedback from Bayer’s lawyer.
Bayer turned down an attempt by California last year to require a cancer warning label for the herbicide, but Chhabria said the company could likely come up with a label that is less clear about the cancer link than the one California was looking for.
William Hoffman, a Bayer attorney, doubted the label proposed by Chhabria would protect against future lawsuits.
The settlement would cover two types of Roundup users, those who currently have non-Hodgkin lymphoma but do not have an attorney, whom the judge called “class one”. The other class includes people who have been exposed to Roundup and who will become ill in the future.
“Such an agreement could potentially be appropriate for first grade,” Chhabria said at the start of the hearing on Wednesday.
Chhabria admitted he was more receptive to aspects of the plan than he was on Tuesday when in a court case he asked questions about why class members would agree to the deal if the Bayer case went well.
If the settlement is tentatively approved, Roundup users will be able to unsubscribe in the coming months and retain their full statutory rights. Those who join the class are entitled to free medical exams and up to $ 200,000 if they develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma during the four-year contract period.
The agreement would suspend all litigation for four years and prevent class members from seeking punitive damages if they refuse to pay compensation and ultimately decide to sue.
There is a lot at stake. Bayer said glyphosate accounted for more than half of its herbicide revenues, which amounted to nearly € 5 billion in 2020.
Critics of the settlement say the proposal unfairly restricts consumers’ legal rights.
Chhabria said the biggest risk to Roundup users who opt out was a US Supreme Court ruling that Bayer believed a federal pesticide law outlawed lawsuits that the company did not warn users about glyphosate.
Bayer said the law was misapplied in the three cases brought to trial, each costing tens of millions of dollars for plaintiffs.
One of those lawsuits, a federal jury verdict of $ 25 million against Bayer, was upheld by an appeals court on Friday.
Bayer said it would ask the US Supreme Court to review the case.