Bayer Sidesteps St. Louis Roundup Trial

11.04.2022 - Bayer has settled a collection of claims from US plaintiffs that Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide caused their cancer, the US newspaper St. Louis Dispatch reports. This, it said, avoids a publicity-sensitive trial that was due to start this week in the Missouri city that was Monsanto’s global headquarters before it was acquired by the German group for $63 billion in 2018.

The agreement nullifies what would have been the first trial of its kind to reach Monsanto’s hometown of St. Louis, where the business still maintains a substantial presence. Specific terms of the Apr. 7 settlement, which addresses a lawsuit first filed in 2017, have been described as confidential.

Bayer meanwhile has called on the US Supreme Court to review another case claiming that its glyphosate-based herbicides can cause cancer. This is the second time in less than a year that the Leverkusen-based pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals major has petitioned the highest US court over a jury award related to Roundup.

The latest case pertains to a decision awarding nearly $87 million to Alberta and Alva Pilliod, a couple living in the state of California, who were diagnosed with cancer after spraying Roundup on their property for more than three decades.

The Supreme Court has already signaled it will hear a similar petition from Bayer seeking to overturn a $25 million award by a California court to Roundup user Edwin Hardeman. In both petitions, the group argues that the plaintiffs' cancer claims are not sound science and voided by regulatory clearance for Roundup.

In the second petition, Bayer asserts that it is against the US constitution to award punitive damages that far outweigh compensatory damages.

Settlement over Monsanto PCBs

Elsewhere in the US, the news agency Reuters reports that Bayer has reached an $80 million settlement with the state of Ohio to resolve environmental damage allegedly caused by polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) made by the former Monsanto. The office of the Ohio state attorney general said the funds will be used for environmental cleanup.

Bayer, which has not admitted liability, said Monsanto never manufactured or discharged PCBs in the state. Across the US, the group is facing other lawsuits related to Monsanto's PCBs, for which the predecessor company voluntarily ceased production in 1977.

In 2021, Bayer agreed a $648 million class action settlement over PCBs with a reported 2,500 local governments in the US. This settlement recently received preliminary approval from a federal judge, but as not all parties to the action have signaled that they support the deal, the outcome is uncertain.

Author: Dede Williams, Freelance Journalist