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After court rebuff, Bayer tries new paths to resolve Roundup lawsuits

The proposed class-action settlement would have been fair to all sides, said Bayer.

Health and chemical giant Bayer said it would pursue a five-point plan to mitigate its future litigation risks over Roundup herbicide, including a discussion of whether to remain in the lawn-and-garden market and a continued pursuit of settlements of lawsuits that allege the weed killer causes cancer. Bayer announced the steps on Thursday, a day after a federal judge in California rejected a Bayer proposal to settle future lawsuits involving Roundup for $2 billion.

The proposed class-action settlement would have been fair to all sides, said Bayer. “Still, we have legal and commercial options that together will achieve a similar result in mitigating future litigation risk, and we will pursue them as quickly as possible.” Bayer says Roundup is safe to use.

In a statement, Bayer said it “will explore alternative solutions aimed at addressing potential future Roundup claims” and it will be open to discussions to resolve existing lawsuits if a resolution can be reached “on appropriate terms.” Meanwhile, it will continue its appeals of jury verdicts that awarded tens of millions of dollars to plaintiffs.

Roundup will remain available to professional and agricultural users, said Bayer, but it “will immediately engage with partners to discuss the future of glyphosate-based products in the U.S. residential market, as the overwhelming majority of claimants in the Roundup litigation allege they used Roundup lawn and garden products.”

U.S. district judge Vince Chhabria said in a six-page decision on Wednesday that Bayer’s $2 billion package would require future plaintiffs to give up legal rights but provide few benefits to them. The package offered compensation to people who developed cancer within four years of the settlement. “If a settlement that reasonably protects the interests of Roundup users who have not been diagnosed with NHL (non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma) can be reached, that agreement must be presented on a new motion for preliminary approval,” said Chhabria.

“We applaud the court for resoundingly rejecting this proposed settlement, which would leave many Roundup-using victims of non-Hodgkin lymphoma high and dry in order to limit Bayer/Monsanto’s liability for their carcinogenic herbicide,” said Bill Freese of the Center for Food Safety. The organization has filed suit to overturn EPA approval of glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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