Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Roundup settlement hits a snag

 U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in San Francisco has raised questions that might derail a multi-billion class-action settlement agreed to by Bayer, owners of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide.

Chhabria noted in his final question that jury trials have gone very well for plaintiffs = i.e. those suing Monsanto.

Given that, the judge asked why class members should agree to a settlement that requires them to present at future trials a report from a science panel that will spend the next four years determining if Roundup causes cancer.

“The last question is a killer,” said David Noll, a professor at Rutgers Law School.

The company has said decades of studies have shown Roundup and its active ingredient glyphosate do not cause cancer and are safe for human use. Consumer groups and personal injury lawyers have criticized the plan because it prevents lawsuits for four years and bars class members from seeking punitive damages.

If science panel decides that Roundup has not caused the cancers victims claim, then Bayer would be off the hook.

Another question Chhabria posed is how all of the millions of people exposed to Roundup could be contacted to share in the settlement agreement.

He wondered if labeling Roundup to say it might cause cancer would be a better solution. Bayer has staunchly resisted the labeling option.

The agreement would provide free medical exams and up to $200,000 in compensation if a class member is diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer.

A year ago Bayer agreed to commit $9.6 billion to settle 125,000 claims over Roundup. That is a separate case.

Bayer bought Monsanto, owner of Roundup, for $63 billion in 2018.