Bayer AG has announced that it will pay more than $10 billion to resolve thousands of Roundup cancer lawsuits claiming that the popular weed killer gave the plaintiffs the disease.
Roundup Cancer Lawsuits Settled With No Admission of Liability
In a press release issued on June 24, 2020, German pharmaceutical giant Bayer AG announced that it will pay $8.8 billion to $9.6 billion to settle existing Roundup cancer lawsuits, along with another $1.25 billion to cover any possible future litigation.
Bayer’s CEO Werner Baumann said that “The decision to resolve the Roundup litigation enables us to focus fully on the critical supply of health care and food. It will also return the conversation about the safety and utility of glyphosate-based herbicides to the scientific and regulatory arena and to the full body of science.”
A court-appointed mediator for the settlement called it a “constructive and reasonable” resolution. However, it does not include any admission of wrongdoing or liability for the Roundup cancer lawsuits.
Bayer bought Roundup manufacturer Monsanto in 2018, the same year that the company lost a lawsuit to a California school groundskeeper who claimed that Roundup had caused his non-Hodgkin lymphoma. A jury awarded Dewayne Johnson nearly $290 million in damages in August 2018 after it determined that Monsanto failed to warn Johnson and other consumers about the risks posed by its products. A judge later upheld the decision upon appeal but lowered the damages to $78 million because of what she considered an overreach in punitive damages.
Over 13,000 Roundup cancer lawsuits have been filed against the company in the United States. They argue that Monsanto ignored warnings that Roundup contained potentially carcinogenic chemicals, then hid the threat from consumers.
In March 2019, a jury in a San Francisco federal court awarded $80 million to a 70-year-old Sonoma resident after concluding that glyphosate – the core ingredient in Roundup – was a “substantial factor” in his non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
In May of that same year, a California jury awarded a husband and wife more than $2 billion in damages in a lawsuit that claimed Roundup caused their cancer, though they were also later reduced by a judge to $87 million.
Research Links Glyphosate to Cancer
There is extensive research available linking glyphosate to cancer which has been utilized in the Roundup cancer lawsuits.
A 1985 memo from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said that glyphosate was a “possible human carcinogen with limited evidence of carcinogenicity,” and the American Cancer Society has listed the substance as a “probable carcinogen.”
In March 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer released a report that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans,” stating that “For the herbicide glyphosate, there was limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans for non-Hodgkin lymphoma.”
An attorney in one of the Roundup cancer lawsuits asserted that the interaction between glyphosate and other ingredients in the weed killer causes a “synergistic effect” that makes it more carcinogenic. Another lawyer argued that Monsanto manipulated science and public opinion to downplay Roundup’s health risks. Documents unsealed during that trial suggested that the company had ghostwritten research later attributed to academics and that a senior EPA official had killed a federal review of the dangers of glyphosate.
Though it is not medically possible to prove whether Roundup caused specific cases of cancer, it is also not possible for Monsanto to prove that the product did not lead to instances of the disease because most instances of lymphoma are idiopathic, which means that the cause is unknown.
Because of the idiopathic nature of the disease, Roundup cancer lawsuits did not have to demonstrate that the weed killer was the only cause of cancer in order to establish liability, but rather to show that it was a “substantial contributing factor” to the sickness.
Chicago Personal Injury Lawyers Combatting Corporate Negligence
Products surround us in modern society, and we trust them to be safe and improve our lives, not shorten them. But when this trust is broken, who is there to hold multi-billion-dollar companies accountable for their actions?
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