It’s been about fifteen months since a California jury found Bayer and its flagship weed killer Roundup responsible for school groundskeeper Dewayne “Lee” Johnson’s development of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The trial was the first to take on Monsanto’s claims that “science” proved that Roundup was safe and show that most of that science was either paid for by the secretive agricorporation or was simply coming directly from within Monsanto’s walls themselves.
Since then, over 18,000 cases have emerged with plaintiffs claiming that long-term use of the chemical has led to their development of the same disease. Two other cases have gone to trial and, in what can only be seen as very bad news for Bayer, the defendants have yet to win a single case. Bayer acquired Monsanto and its product line – including Roundup – last year in a takeover deal that was valued at $63 billion.
Monsanto’s Roundup problems have cost Bayer approximately 30% of its stock value since the issue began, and with news swirling of a possible settlement deal, both Bayer and industry analysts expect the number of glyphosate claims to skyrocket to over 45,000 from their current number of about 18,400.
Efforts toward that settlement are being led by well-known mediator Ken Feinberg. Feinberg has mediated a number of high profile settlements in the past, including the dispersal of funds for victims of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Rumors and leaks seemed to indicate that Bayer was targeting a total payment of around $8-10 billion, however, Feinberg immediately dismissed the notion and stated categorically that numbers had not yet entered the conversation.
With a possible settlement looming, several individual lawsuits have been delayed to give negotiators a chance to resolve the issue. At the same time, Bayer has indicated that it expects to see an increase in the number of cases due to “a campaign by plaintiffs’ lawyers and lead generators to increase the volume of plaintiffs as quickly as possible in connection with that process.” The corporation added that the increase in the number of cases tied to these efforts was not an indication of the merit of the cases themselves.