Bayer AG rejects latest global Roundup settlement
Bayer AG appears set to continue defending Roundup’s liability cases in court after rejecting a proposed global settlement with all plaintiffs in federal court in California.
The ruling comes the same week the company won its fifth straight lawsuit in state court over the glyphosate product.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Northern California has held a case management hearing as court documents show Bayer AG does not plan to settle tens of thousands of pending cases.
The company defended the product against claims that it caused non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in people who used Roundup. Earlier this year, the company lost two Supreme Court appeals in two multimillion-dollar California case verdicts.
In the Northern California court, both parties in the pending liability cases filed a joint case management statement.
“Monsanto intends to defend itself in litigation and will only consider resolving outstanding matters and claims if it is strategically advantageous to do so,” Bayer said in the statement.
The plaintiffs asked the court to end the current multidistrict litigation process to release the remaining cases to be tried in multiple states across the country. A multi-district court proceeding, known as MDL, can be used when civil actions in different district courts involve common issues of fact. Cases may be temporarily consolidated and transferred to a single district court for pre-trial proceedings, although they remain separate cases.
Bayer said in a statement that it wanted to keep the MDL and did not support a proposed settlement.
The plaintiffs claim that the MDL process “is not working” and said that after two years “the current MDL mediation program is not significantly advancing the resolution of cases”.
The plaintiffs said a “substantial number” of MDL cases remain unsolved and it is “highly unlikely” that the cases will be settled without a trial or resolution.
Rather than dissolve the MDL, Bayer asked the court to continue the current effort and “further strengthen” the parties’ ability to “focus discovery efforts” on cases that will not be voluntarily dismissed or resolved. Bayer said in the joint statement that 4,350 cases have been filed or transferred to the MDL, which includes 5,308 individual complainants.
In a statement to DTN, Bayer said, “The processes in place in the Roundup MDL have resulted in the resolution or dismissal of more than 80% of pending cases, and the company supports the prosecution of the MDL under the direction of the judge. Chhabria, with support from Special Master Ken Feinberg.
“The company opposes closing the MDL as proposed by the plaintiffs because their proposal ignores the significant and ongoing progress the parties have made and would lead to fractured litigation throughout the federal court system. The company believes the MDL would be further enhanced by entering a new Records Control Order that would strengthen parties’ ability to focus their discovery efforts on remaining cases that should not be dismissed or resolved.
Part of the plaintiffs’ proposed resolution would include a 60-day stay of proceedings to work on a settlement, a proposal that Bayer also opposes.
The company is fresh off another victory in a product liability lawsuit on Sept. 1.
In July 2021, Bayer announced a five-point plan to manage and resolve future litigation risks related to Roundup. Among the moves, Bayer announced it would stop selling Roundup products for residential use starting in 2023.
The California court rejected a broader Bayer settlement in 2021 over concerns that the settlement would not adequately address the concerns of families who may later be diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
During a Bayer earnings call in March 2022, the company said about 107,000 of the roughly 138,000 Roundup personal injury claims have been resolved or deemed ineligible for settlement.