Bayer to pay 10.9 billion to settle lawsuits over weedkiller

Aerial view of Bayer's Luling facility.

Bayer will pay up to $10.9 billion to settle a lawsuit over claims the weedkiller Roundup, a herbicide product of its subsidiary company Monsanto, caused cancer.

That announcement came from Bayer last week, which noted the settlement will close approximately three quarters of 125,000 claims against the company involving Roundup. In addition, Bayer announced it will pay $1.2 billion to settle two other cases, including up to $820 million settling claims for exposure to PCB found in U.S. waters, and $400 million to settle claims of dicamba killing plants that weren’t bred to resist it.

Bayer purchased Monsanto in 2018 for approximately $63 billion, but in doing so inherited the many lawsuits filed against the latter company. Monsanto lost a lawsuit that same year over a claim Roundup caused his non-Hodgkin lymphoma. That opened the door to thousands of other lawsuits to be filed against the company. The Roundup lawsuits were estimated to represent approximately 100,000 people who claimed the product caused their cancer. Specifically, the main active ingredient of Roundup, glyphosate, has been cited as the cause in the lawsuits.

Bayer operates chemical plants all over the world, including its site in Luling which it acquired in the Monsanto deal. The news of the settlement comes on the heels of the company’s announcement earlier in June that plans for a $975 million expansion to that Luling site were cancelled. The company had already hired 100 workers for the expanded site, and construction was estimated to be wrapped up by late 2020 and opened in 2021. At peak construction, it was estimated the project would generate 1,000 jobs.

“The decision to resolve the Roundup litigation enables us to focus fully on the critical supply of health care and food,” Bayer CEO Werner Baumann said in a statement. “It will also return the conversation about the safety and utility of glyphosate-based herbicides to the scientific and regulatory arena and to the full body of science.”

Baumann, nor the company, admitted wrongdoing in the statement, focusing instead on the utility of putting the matter to rest.

“(The settlement) resolves most current claims and puts in place a clear mechanism to manage risks of potential future litigation,” Baumann said. “It is financially reasonable when viewed against the significant financial risks of continued, multi-year litigation and the related impacts to our reputation and to our business.”

Up to $9.6 billion of the total amount will be used to settle existing lawsuits, with $1.25 billion earmarked to cover any potential litigation in the future, the company said.

 

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