Bayer’s Roundup challenges continue

May has brought new roadblocks and challenges to Bayer’s ongoing attempts to settle or dispose of litigation relating to the Roundup herbicide it inherited from Monsanto. Since May 2021, Bayer has been trying to settle groups of lawsuits involving glyphosate-based Roundup in a five-point plan.

As of May, Bayer/Monsanto has paid out about $11 billion in settlement agreements for nearly 100,000 Roundup lawsuits, according to the Lawsuit Information Center Blog, by negotiating block settlements with attorneys representing large numbers of plaintiffs. These settlements account for nearly 80% of all pending Roundup claims. There remains about 26,000 active Roundup lawsuits, most filed in state courts.

On May 10, U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar asked the U.S. Supreme Court not to hear Monsanto/Bayer’s bid in Monsanto Co. v. Hardeman to dismiss claims by plaintiffs claiming that their cancer was caused by Roundup. The request came after the court asked the Biden administration to submit an opinion. In December Bayer said it would suspend settlement discussions with plaintiff attorney pending the outcome.

The next day, Pennsylvania administrative Judge Lysette Shirdon-Harris consolidated 100 pending Roundup lawsuits into a mass tort. One plaintiff’s attorney said he expected the number of plaintiffs to increase. The suits name Monsanto Company and suburban Philadelphia-based chemical maker Nurion. The plaintiffs allege that Nurion—headquartered in Radnor, Pennsylvania—produced a toxic ingredient used in Roundup. Defense attorneys argued that the addition of Nurion was a ploy to add a Pennsylvania co-defendant to the lawsuit to get federal jurisdiction.

Bayer won several jury trials in California late last year, with the juries concluding that Roundup did not cause the plaintiffs’ cancer.

On May 3, the Shelton Roundup product liability case began in Kansas City, Missouri. In a statement on its website, Bayer said, “While we have great sympathy for Mr. Shelton, the extensive body of scientific research on glyphosate-based herbicides over four decades, as well as the conclusions of leading health regulators worldwide, support the conclusion that Roundup is not responsible for his illness. The plaintiff’s claims are preempted by federal law given that the EPA has repeatedly found that glyphosate-based herbicides are not carcinogenic. Additionally, the plaintiff has failed to provide admissible evidence to the court that supports his causation claims.”

David Murray can be reached at [email protected].