A U.S. judge dismissed Bayer’s $ 2 billion class-action lawsuit proposal to resolve future lawsuits alleging its Roundup weedkiller caused cancer, saying in an order on Wednesday that parts of the plan were “clearly unreasonable.”
U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria in San Francisco said the proposal would “accomplish a lot for Monsanto” which Bayer acquired for $ 63 billion in 2018, and “would accomplish a lot less for Roundup users” who are currently in the process. healthy.
The deal would have suspended the Roundup non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) litigation for four years and would have barred Roundup users from seeking punitive damages after the litigation stay expires.
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In return, users might be eligible for free medical exams and compensation if they were diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
The proposed class action settlement targeted claims from people who have been exposed to the weedkiller and who become ill in the future.
Separately, Bayer has committed up to $ 9.6 billion to resolve outstanding claims from people blaming glyphosate – the main active ingredient in Roundup – for an existing disease. The company’s chief executive told analysts this month that 90,000 existing claims have been resolved and 30,000 are still under negotiation.
The company said decades of studies have shown Roundup and glyphosate to be safe for humans. Bayer did not respond to requests for comment on the judge’s decision.
Elizabeth Cabraser, the lawyer representing the proposed group, said in a statement that she was disappointed with the decision and continued to believe that the plan provided members of the group with enormous financial, health and safety benefits.
Bayer has been criticized by consumer advocates for its efforts to add a warning label to Roundup or remove it from the herbicide market, which it dominates along with other glyphosate products.
Bayer said the Environmental Protection Agency had approved its label and the company could be accused of bad branding if it added a warning. The EPA has determined that glyphosate is safe.
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Chhabria had suggested that a warning label could provide a way to avoid future lawsuits, which are based on the theory that Bayer has failed to warn consumers of Roundup’s link to cancer.
Bayer called the proposed class action settlement one of the “building blocks” to “secure closure” of the Roundup litigation.
Leslie Brueckner, a public justice lawyer, who opposed the proposal, called the decision important to public health and said the risk of substantial punitive damage could force Bayer to change.
Chhabria’s decision meant the company faced legal action, she said.
“So as long as Roundup is in the market, Bayer will continue to be sued by Roundup victims who get the NHL,” said Brueckner. “It means no closure. “
The four-year plan would have potentially grouped millions of residential users and farm workers into one classroom and provided them with the medical exams and up to $ 200,000 if they were diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Chhabria’s six-page commission cast doubt on the value of the medical examination offer, given the 10 to 15 year delay between exposure and the potential onset of cancer symptoms.
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He also said most claimants could expect compensation of $ 60,000 or less and compensation may not be available after the plan expires.
Lawyers for the class said at last week’s hearing that Bayer may extend the deal and provide additional compensation.
The judge also asked how healthy Roundup users could be properly informed of a rule that would bind them in the future if they developed the NHL.
“Simple adjustments cannot save the deal,” Chhabria said.