Bayer shares soar after reported $8 billion Roundup settlement
When German pharmaceutical company Bayer paid $63 billion to acquire the Creve Coeur, Missouri-based agribusiness corporation Monsanto Company in 2018, Bayer also inherited all of the litigation surrounding Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer. While the move left Bayer with a stock market capitalization less than it paid in the takeover, Business Insider reported on August 9, 2019, that Bayer shares increased up to 11 percent after Bloomberg reported that Bayer proposed to pay $8 billion to settle over 18,000 lawsuits in the United States relating to Roundup.
According to Business Insider, the stock activity represented the best single-day gain in a decade. Bayer shares lost approximately $33.56 billion, or more than a third of market value after a San Francisco jury awarded $289 million in August 2018 to a former school groundskeeper dying of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after using Roundup on the job.
Later the same day as the initial report of a possible settlement, mediator Ken Feinberg told Reuters that Bayer had not made any such offer. Bayer shares ultimately closed up 1.7 percent at the end of the day.
“Bayer has not proposed paying $8 billion to settle all the U.S. Roundup cancer claims. Such a statement is pure fiction,” Feinberg told Reuters via email. “Compensation has not even been discussed in the global mediation discussions.”
Reuters noted that Bayer Chief Executive Werner Baumann said the company would consider settling with American plaintiffs only on reasonable terms that achieve “finality of the overall litigation.” While Baumann stated that the company was engaging in a court-ordered process with mediator Feinberg on the cases heard in federal court, most cases have been filed with state courts in the country.
According to Reuters, two sources familiar with the matter said Bayer had engaged in negotiations with plaintiffs’ attorneys. One source said the talks were focused on how future claims should be handled.
“The problem is, how do you get the plaintiffs to climb down from their very high expectations?” the source asked Reuters. “None of the jury verdicts so far have been favorable for Bayer.”
Judgments Continue to Pile Up
In addition to the August San Francisco jury verdict, Bayer has also seen two other fairly sizable judgments against them. CBS News reported on March 27, 2019, that a California Superior Court jury awarded $80 million to Edwin Hardeman, who was also diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2015 after using Roundup for more than 25 years.
Hardeman was awarded more than $5 million in compensatory damages and $75 million in punitive damages. He proved that Roundup’s design was defective, lacked sufficient cancer warnings, and Monsanto was negligent.
On May 13, 2019, CBS News reported that a jury in Oakland, California awarded a couple both diagnosed with cancer after using Roundup $2 billion in punitive damages and $55 million for pain and suffering and medical expenses. As Reuterspointed out, the $2 billion punitive damages award was seen as likely to be reduced because previous rulings by the Supreme Court of the United States have limited the ratio of punitive to compensatory damages to 9:1, which would mean that the $55 million in compensatory damages translate to a cap of approximately $495 million in punitive damages.
NPR reported on November 1, 2018, that the groundskeeper awarded $289 million by the San Francisco jury, Dewayne “Lee” Johnson, ultimately accepted a $78 million after the judge reduced the award. Johnson claimed that he sprayed 150 gallons of Roundup up to 30 times a year as a groundskeeper for the school district in Benicia where he worked for four years, and Johnson developed lesions on more than 80 percent of his body because of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
The initial Bloomberg report stated that Bayer was willing to pay between $6 billion and $8 billion although plaintiffs’ lawyers sought over $10 billion to drop claims, but Reuters reported that Bank of America analysts said in note that an estimate of a $20 billion had previously been reflected in the share price even though the likely litigation settlement liability was in the mid-single-digit billion dollar range.
Bayer said that the next glyphosate lawsuit initially scheduled to be heard in St. Louis, Missouri, this month would be postponed to January 27, 2020. Another St. Louis case also scheduled for September was also postponed.
Environmental Health News reported on May 21, 2019, that Sharlean Gordon was the next plaintiff set for trial. Gordon was diagnosed with a form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2006 after using Roundup for about 15 years through 2017 and underwent two stem cell transplants and spent a year in a nursing home as part of her treatment.
Taking a Stand for the Victims
John J. Driscoll is a former Illinois Assistant Public Defender who served as an in-chambers law clerk to two Illinois Appellate Court Justices. He became involved in pharmaceutical product liability litigation and has served as class counsel in state and federal courts throughout the United States.
Chris Quinn joined the Missouri Attorney General’s Office in 2006 and served as a team leader in the Litigation Division. He too has experience in state and federal courts.
Your case could be ideal for a class action lawsuit, but you might also stand to benefit from multi-district litigation (MDL). You will want to have an attorney determine which avenue will be more beneficial for you.
Roundup lawsuits are based on its active ingredient, glyphosate. Glyphosate was classified as a “probable carcinogen” in March 2015 by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an intergovernmental agency of the World Health Organization (WHO) of the United Nations (UN).
The IARC determination was based on “clear evidence of cancer in experimental animals, limited evidence for cancer for humans from real-world exposures, of exposed farmers, and also strong evidence that it can damage the genes and other toxicological studies.” In April 2019, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)announced it would take an important step in its review of glyphosate, but ultimately reaffirmed that there are no risks to public health when glyphosate is used in accordance with its current label and that glyphosate is not a carcinogen.
According to Reuters, Bayer intended to use an attempted preemption or “silver bullet” defense that the state claims were prohibited because they conflicted with federal law. The Supreme Court of the United States, however, held in Bates v. Dow Agrosciences LLC, 544 U.S. 431 (2005) that the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) did not preempt state law claims.
Who Is At Risk?
Roundup has been commonly used by nursery employees, farmworkers, landscapers, groundskeepers, and garden center employees as well as many other regular everyday people. Glyphosate has been identified as the cause of cancers like non-Hodgkin lymphoma, B-cell lymphoma, myeloma, and leukemia.
Glyphosate has also been connected to such conditions as:
- Brain cancer
- Respiratory illnesses
- Breast, lung, and prostate cancers
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease)
- Heart disease
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Liver disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Reproductive problems
- Parkinson’s disease
- Celiac disease
There are increased risks in univariate analysis for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and hairy cell leukemia in subjects exposed to herbicides according to a 2002 study in Leukemia & Lymphoma, and significant associations were found for glyphosate. Another 2003 study published in the Occupational and Environmental Medicine section of BMJ Journals found that subjects who reported using any five or more “potentially carcinogenic” pesticides were twice as likely to be non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma cases than controls, and there was a 10 percent increased non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma incidence associated with living or working on a farm as an adult.
Glyphosate more than doubled a person’s risk for developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and increased the risk of a subtype of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma known as B-cell lymphoma by 87 percent according to a 2008 study in the International Journal of Cancer. A 2014 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found twice the risk of development of B-cell lymphoma in people exposed to glyphosate at work.
Monsanto sponsored a 2016 study published in the Journal of Environmental Science and Health that found the risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma increased 30 percent with glyphosate. The study stated that “a causal relationship has not been established between glyphosate exposure and risk of any type of” lymphohematopoietic cancer (LHC).
Consumer Reports also reported that use of glyphosate had increased tenfold in the past 20 years.
Contact a Roundup Cancer Attorney Today
Have you or your loved one been diagnosed with cancer or another illness that you believe is connected to your use of the Roundup weed killer? Contact The Driscoll Firm, P.C. today. Call 800-900-7704 or contact us online to set up a free consultation.