Bayer’s Roundup Lawsuits Doubled Since July
In mid-October Bayer was facing Roundup-related lawsuits from about 42,700 US-based plaintiffs, the German group’s CEO, Werner Baumann, said in reporting financial results for the 2019 third quarter.
The number was more double the 18,400 reported in early July.
Bayer’s management believes the “significant increase” was “clearly driven” by television advertising. This, Baumann said, roughly doubled in the third quarter compared with the entire first half of 2019, encouraged by California judge Vincent Chhabria’s mediation order in May.
The German group’s estimate, which it said was based on publicly available data, is that the plaintiffs' side spent $50 million on TV advertising, as more lawyers sought up more plaintiffs for a potential settlement. The CEO said Bayer is “constructively engaging in the mediation process.”
In conference calls with journalists and analysts, Baumann said the number of lawsuits “says nothing about their merits.” The world’s largest agrochemicals producer following the takeover of Monsanto has “meritorious defenses,” which he said it will employ during appeals proceedings against the three first-instance judgments and in all other future proceedings.
While some investors worry that the growing number of plaintiffs could inflate the final tab for Bayer, analysts generally believe that a settlement would be the best outcome, the newspaper Wall Street Journal stressed.
In Baumann’s words, only a “financially reasonable” settlement would be acceptable, without naming a sum.
In August, analysts for Bernstein calculated that investors were expecting a $12 billion payout, based on a figure of $650,000 per plaintiff. However, the spike in plaintiff numbers could well drive the sum much higher.