Bayer Halts Roundup Talks After U.S. Supreme Court Inquiry
(Bloomberg) -- Bayer AG said it’s halting discussions to settle further claims over its Roundup weedkiller after the U.S. Supreme Court signaled interest in the company’s effort to end thousands of suits alleging the product causes cancer.
Bayer is “encouraged” by the court’s call to hear the views of the Solicitor General on its case challenging a $25 million award to Edwin Hardeman, a California man who says decades of exposure to Roundup caused his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the Leverkusen, Germany-based company said in a statement on Monday.
The company argues that federal approval of Roundup’s label meant Hardeman’s suit -- and others like it -- couldn’t go forward.
The pace of resolutions had already slowed considerably over the past year. When Bayer initially announced its Roundup settlement plans in June 2020, it said it had agreements to resolve about 94,000 cases out of 125,000 total claims from consumers and farmers. Last month, the company said it had settlements or was close to reaching deals for 98,000 cases in all. Bayer hasn’t updated the 125,000 figure concerning the total number of Roundup cases in the past year and a half.
“Now that the Supreme Court has requested input from the Solicitor General in this case, we will not entertain any further settlement discussions with plaintiff lawyers that are representing a substantial number of Roundup claims,” the company said in the statement Monday.
While Bayer is hoping a victory at the U.S. Supreme Court would put an end to litigation on the product, its backup plan is to convince investors that it can achieve that goal by spending more money, with a possible total outlay of $16 billion.
Bayer shares jumped as much as 3.2% on the news, but quickly pared those gains. The stock has lost about half its value since the Monsanto acquisition closed in 2018.
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