Bayer Agrees $9 Billion Roundup Settlement

Separate deals for dicamba, PCBs

03.07.2020 - After nearly a year of deliberation, Bayer has clinched a deal to settle three-quarters of its outstanding lawsuits from US plaintiffs who claim that Monsanto’s top-selling herbicide Roundup with the active ingredient glyphosate caused their non-Hodgkins lymphoma (NHL).

The German group has set aside a payment of $8.8-9.6 billion to resolve ongoing Roundup litigation and address potential future claims, plus $1.25 billion to support a separate class agreement to address any additional litigation. Another 30,000 cases are said to be outstanding.

Cash payments related to the settlements are expected to start this year.

Bayer said it believes the long negotiated Roundup settlements should “bring closure” not only to some 75% of the outstanding cases, but also resolve 125,000 filed and unfiled claims. Those participating in the settlement will be required to drop their litigation or agree not to file a lawsuit.

Separately, the group has made arrangements to settle claims related to drift from the herbicide dicamba and litigation linked to discharges of PCBs into waterways. This brings the total cost of its drive for “closure” to nearly $11 billion.

The resolved Roundup claims, Bayer noted, apply to all plaintiff law firms leading the US national multi-district litigation (MDL) or the California bellwether cases, as well as those representing approximately 95% of the cases currently set for trial.

Above all, the agrochemicals and pharmaceutical player said, the Roundup settlement is aimed at establishing “key values and parameters to guide the resolution of the remainder of the claims.” It stressed that the resolutions were approved unanimously by its managing and supervisory boards, with input from its special litigation committee and contain “no admission of liability or wrongdoing.”

The Roundup class agreement is subject to approval by Judge Vince Chhabria of the US District Court for the Northern District of California, who heard earlier lawsuits.  The three cases that Bayer has lost up to now are not covered by the settlement. The group said it is important to continue through the appeals process for these, to provide future legal guidance.

Kenneth R. Feinberg, court-appointed mediator for the Roundup talks, said
the agreements are designed as a “constructive and reasonable resolution to a unique litigation.”

Commenting on the package, Bayer CEO Werner Baumann called it “the right action at the right time.” He said it “resolves most current claims and puts in place a clear mechanism to manage risks of potential future litigation.”

Baumann called the agreement “financially reasonable when viewed against the significant financial risks of continued, multi-year litigation and the related impacts to our reputation and to our business.”  This should 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, he added.


The terms calls for potential future cases to be governed by a class agreement still subject to court approval. This includes the establishment of a class of potential future plaintiffs and an independent class science panel. The latter would be charged with determining whether Roundup can cause NHL, and if so, at what minimum exposure levels.

Both the class and Bayer would be bound by the science panel’s determination of general causation, if indeed it can be determined. For the chemical group, Bayer said this represents a step toward taking the decision out of the jury trial setting and putting it back in the hands of “expert scientists.”

Scientists are not all in agreement over the dangers potentially associated with glyphosate. While the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has now given it a clear thumbs up – after a long internal discussion under two American presidential  administrations – many NGOs are opposing its continued use.

 In the EU, the herbicide remains controversial, at least in the general population.
In the next round of discussions over renewal of the chemical’s registration, many observers anticipate a negative vote, especially as the UK will be absent from the vote, and Germany’s federal environment ministry is bent on phasing it out.