The verdict that served as the flashpoint for a flood of lawsuits that have erased over 30% of Bayer’s market value is under appeal in a California courtroom. At stake is not only the $78 million remainder of the original $289 million verdict awarded to school groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson, but also the future of ongoing settlement negotiations with the tens of thousands of plaintiffs currently awaiting their day in court.
More than 50,000 such lawsuits exist with plaintiffs across the country alleging that exposure to glyphosate; the active ingredient in Bayer’s flagship weed killer Roundup, has caused them to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Roundup was originally developed by the notoriously secretive agri-corporation Monsanto but became one of Bayer’s offerings when it acquired Monsanto in a deal worth some $63 billion.
To date, Bayer has yet to successfully defend Roundup in court. Every attempted defense of the weed killer has led to a jury decision in favor of the plaintiff and amounts of those awards have varied. Its initial loss in the Johnson case was the first to bring Monsanto’s manipulation of the evidence, as well as the lengths it was going to control the public, private, and scientific narratives about glyphosate to light. In some cases, the very studies that Monsanto was using to profess the safety of its product were being written from within its own walls. In others, it was paying for research to show glyphosate in a positive light.
Talks regarding a global settlement for Bayer’s glyphosate problems have been ongoing since at least last summer, with renowned negotiator Kenneth Feinberg being brought in to oversee the conversation. While the parties involved have been unwilling to discuss the negotiations, most signs are pointing to a settlement amount somewhere around $8 to $10 billion. Such a settlement would be seen as a massive win for Bayer, with some predicting a stock surge as a result of the corporation being able to get out of the Roundup “headache for as little as $10 billion.”