Roundup is one of the most popular and widely used weed killers in the world. Roundup was first released in the early 1970s by Monsanto (now owned by pharma giant Bayer) and it eventually came to dominate the weed killer market, both commercial and residential. Roundup was everywhere and there was never any question about whether it was safe.
The end of Roundup’s success story began about 5 years ago when it was discovered that chronic exposure to the active ingredient in Roundup (glyphosate) could cause certain types of cancer. This discovery was followed by an inevitable tidal wave of lawsuits by individuals who were diagnosed with cancers such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after prolonged use of Roundup.
The Roundup lawsuits soon numbered in the thousands and were consolidated into multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the Northern District of California. Monsanto (and its successor Bayer) has repeatedly refused to admit that Roundup is unsafe and aggressively defended its product in the courts. After years of civil discovery and a series of “test trials” that resulted in massive plaintiff verdicts, Bayer finally gave in and announced in 2020 that it was going to pay a staggering $10 billion to settle all of the Roundup lawsuits.
Unfortunately, the process of finalizing this settlement has been far from simple as Bayer failed to get court approval for a controversial arrangement that would have frozen future claims. Bayer has now abandoned that effort and continue to settle out large blocks of cases, while setting aside an additional $6 billion for the resolution of future claims. Set forth below is a brief summary of the Roundup settlement drama that has unfolded over the last 10 months.
Bayer’s Initial Settlement Arrangement Gets Rejected
Lat summer Bayer announced that it was setting aside $10.9 billion for settlement of the existing Roundup cases. On the surface, this sounded great but the details of Bayer’s settlement proposal immediately raised eyebrows.
Under the first part of the settlement, $8.5 billion would be earmarked for the settlement of just over 90,000 pending Roundup cases. There was nothing controversial about this part of the arrangement. The controversy focused on the second part of the settlement proposal, which aimed at dealing with “future” Roundup claims (i.e., claims by people who used Roundup but develop cancer years later).
Bayer wanted to set aside $2 billion for the creation of “futures class action” for these claims. This $2 billion was NOT intended to be used for payouts to future plaintiffs. Instead, Bayer was asking the court to grant a 4-year stay on all new Roundup lawsuits and in the meantime, $1.25 billion would be used to fund a massive research study by a panel of independent scientific experts.
This scientific panel would have been tasked with determining once and for all whether there is solid evidence showing that Roundup exposure causes cancer. The findings of this scientific panel would have been binding on ANYONE who has used Roundup in the U.S. and will determine whether any future Roundup lawsuits can be filed or not. If the science panel concluded that Roundup did not cause cancer, it would effectively bar any and all future Roundup lawsuits.
Bayer’s proposal for using a “science panel” to kill future claims drew widespread opposition from various groups. It also drew harsh criticism from the Judge in the Bayer MDL who repeatedly suggested, on the record, that Bayer’s proposal did not seem to be legally valid. Despite this pushback, Bayer stubbornly pressed forward with this proposal. In May 2021, however, the MDL Judge emphatically rejected Bayer’s request for court approval of the proposal sending Bayer’s defense team back to the drawing board.
Bayer Settles Out Thousands of Cases
While the debate over Bayer’s controversial arrangement for resolving future Roundup claims was dragging on, Bayer has been proactively settling out large blocks of pending Roundup cases as originally proposed. The exact details of these settlements are not publicly disclosed, but it is believed that approximately half of the pending Roundup cases have been settled and are pending dismissal. It is also believed that the cases are being settled with the $9-10 billion that Bayer previously set aside for the Roundup claims.
Bayer Announces Recall of Roundup and Earmarks Money for Future Claims
In August 2021, Bayer announced that it would be pulling the traditional glyphosate-based Roundup off retail shelves effective January 2023. The “old Roundup” will be replaced by a new formula that does not use glyphosate, the chemical that has been linked to Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. Bayer acknowledged that the decision was aimed at managing future litigation risks.
Shortly after announcing the decision to recall “original Roundup” from the consumer market, Bayer issued quarterly financial statements which advised investors that the company was setting aside $4.5 billion to cover future Roundup liabilities. This means that Bayer will likely be paying out on Roundup cancer claims for at least the next 10 years.
Contact Miller & Zois About Roundup Lawsuits
Our law firm is taking new Roundup cases.
If you or a loved one has been newly diagnosed with cancer from Roundup use, call our Roundup lawyers today at 800-553-8082 or get a free, no-obligation online case review. Our Roundup cancer attorneys can give you the legal advice you need and we will help you in any way that we can.