Judge rejects Bayer’s plan to limit future Roundup liability
Published: June 7, 2021
Category: Pesticide News
Company will review future of weedkiller in the U.S. residential market
A federal judge rejected Bayer’s latest attempt to limit its legal liability from future lawsuits over its Roundup herbicide’s connection to cancer. The judge cited many “glaring flaws” in a settlement proposed to apply to Roundup users who have not yet sued the company but may want to do so in the future.
U.S. Judge Vince Chhabria criticized Bayer and the lawyers who worked with the company on the proposal, saying parts of the plan were “clearly unreasonable” and unfair to plaintiffs suffering from cancer who would be part of the class settlement.
Judge Chhabria pointed out that Bayer has been “losing trials left and right” in lawsuits brought by people who are suffering from non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) due to their exposure to Roundup and other glyphosate-based herbicides. The company has lost three glyphosate-cancer lawsuits to date, and recently the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed a judgment favoring Edwin Hardeman who was awarded $25 million based on glyphosate causing his NHL.
The settlement proposal would have covered those with cancer and healthy persons exposed to Roundup who may become sick later. Those who joined the class would have been be eligible for free medical exams and up to $200,000 if they develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma during the agreement’s four-year period—but couldn’t seek damages if they refuse compensation and decide to sue. Critics argue the proposed agreement limits consumers’ legal rights unfairly.
“Monsanto (Bayer) tried to buy its own system of justice and it is wonderful that the court saw through what they were trying to do,” said lawyer Gerson Smoger, who is among the opponents. “The settlement would’ve been a travesty for those who use Roundup.”
Bayer said it will reassess its efforts to settle around 30,000 ongoing claims by Roundup users who say they have become sick from the product.
The loss is also forcing Bayer to review the future of Roundup and other glyphosate-based weedkillers in the U.S. residential market.
The company said it will continue to supply glyphosate products for agricultural users.
The company also said it will seek approval from the Environmental Protection Agency to include a link on Roundup labels to inform consumers of studies about the product. Judge Chhabria had suggested that Bayer include a warning label on Roundup.
“For years I’ve been wondering why Monsanto wouldn’t do that voluntarily to protect itself,” he said.
Sources: Environmental Health News, Carey Gillam (U.S. Right to Know), Reuters
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Organic & Non-GMO Insights June 2021