Bayer’s glyphosate comparison is still faltering

The dispute over the weedkiller Roundup, which contains glyphosate, is dragging on. A judge in America criticizes parts of the planned billions settlement.

Container with roundup

DThe billions in the bill for the weed killer Roundup, which contains glyphosate, are being delayed further, which means that the legal dispute for the pharmaceutical and agrochemical company Bayer is in the distance. In a hearing, the American judge Vince Chhabria, in whom many national proceedings are bundled, was particularly critical of the handling of future glyphosate lawsuits.

An important part of the settlement drawn up by Bayer and plaintiff’s attorneys last year, which so far includes around 96,000 lawsuits on the herbicide’s alleged carcinogenic effect, are possible claims from future plaintiffs. Bayer wants to pay around 2 billion dollars for this, and the comparison is a good 11.6 billion dollars. According to the agreement, possible compensation for subsequent plaintiffs is between $ 5,000 and $ 200,000 over a four-year period. Judge Chhabria, however, sees those farmers who are at a disadvantage who may still be using Roundup, who may only develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in a few years’ time and then will no longer be able to assert any claims. It was only in February that Bayer and the plaintiffs’ attorneys submitted an amendment to the settlement proposal to Chhabria after the judge had questioned the “fairness” of the original agreement.

For the final approval of the judge, however, the parties involved apparently have to make a little more improvements, although there are already proposals for four years of medical monitoring and diagnostic tests, as well as the possibility for plaintiffs to fall back on an approximately $ 1.3 billion compensation fund. In the hearing, which was held digitally, Chhabria described this as “not particularly tempting” because the majority of the disease with NHL is only diagnosed after the age of 65 years.

The judge is still not quite happy with the proposal by Bayer and the plaintiff’s lawyers to set up an independent scientific committee. The decisions of this body should not be binding on other courts if they did not have the opportunity to question members of this body in future trials. Chhabria herself announced at the end of the five-hour hearing that a decision would probably “take a while”. On the stock exchange, this hardly surprised any analyst or investor, the price of the Dax group was minimally in the red on Thursday.

Bayer has been pursuing a dual strategy in litigation for years. In addition to the settlement efforts, the Dax group has appealed in the previously negotiated processes that it had lost. The company is no longer pursuing the first case involving caretaker Dewayne Johnson, who had cancer. At the same time, however, it pays another glyphosate plaintiff $ 100,000 so that he can appeal. Bayer is convinced, supported by an opinion from the American health authority FDA, that Roundup is not carcinogenic – and wants this to be confirmed by the Supreme Court as far as possible in order to prevent further lawsuits in lower courts. With the settlement, Bayer is primarily pursuing the tactic that, in the absence of future lawsuits, there is no longer any risk of nasty surprises in the form of so-called punitive damages. In the three cases negotiated, the plaintiffs were awarded high sums of millions by juries for these “punitive damages”, which are a peculiarity of the American legal system.