Bayer Said Ready for Roundup Settlement
Talks with six law firms in progress
Bayer is ready to agree draft settlement terms with six major law firms representing tens of thousands of plaintiffs alleging that Monsanto’s Roundup herbicides causes cancer, US business newspaper Wall Street Journal has reported.
All six firms have either won major verdicts against Bayer, have trials upcoming or have large inventories of cases, giving them significant leverage.
Bayer has not commented on the report, but told the newspaper that mediation discussions continue in good faith under a court order requiring confidentiality.
As has been widely reported, the German group and the plaintiffs’ attorneys have been discussing settlement package, in total said to be in the $10 billion range. One WSJ source said the ballpark figure was on target, though a formal deal had not been signed as of the end of last week.
Bayer, which is now focused on life sciences, is believed to be eager to present shareholders with a final agreement before the Apr. 28 annual general meeting. Management also is said to want a clause protecting itself from future litigation as a condition of any settlement.
Kenneth Feinberg, court-appointed mediator for the settlement talks, told the Journal he continues to be “cautiously optimistic that a settlement can be reached.”
In February, 43,000 lawsuits were still outstanding. Bayer lost its first three jury trials, but is appealing all. WSJ said law firms representing thousands of plaintiffs remain unhappy with the terms offered so far as they believe some plaintiffs would get better deals than others.
On Mar. 5, California US district judge Vince Chhabria, who is overseeing the consolidated cases, suspended deadlines on the litigation for 35 days to allow the parties to focus on settlement talks.
Regardless of the nearing agm, Bayer has continuously said it will only settle if it can achieve a lasting deal for the right price.