The US Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to grant a motion by German company Bayer, owner of Monsanto, in a case related to its weed killer Roundup, opening the door to a total of several billion dollars in compensation.
By not taking up the case, the Supreme Court upheld an earlier court decision ordering the group to pay $25 million to a retiree, Edwin Hardeman, who blamed his cancer on the glyphosate-based weed killer.
As usual, the Supreme Court did not explain its decision.
However, the latter risks serious consequences for the group, which is already facing more than 31,000 complaints, in addition to those for which it has already reached an agreement, a number that could rise.
The German company had already committed $6.5 billion to these new processes ($2 billion initially, then another $4.5 billion after rejecting a previous deal). Depending on how complaints are handled, it may be necessary to pay more.
At the close of trading on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, Bayer stock fell 2.26% to EUR 61.93.
“Bayer respectfully disagrees with the Supreme Court’s decision,” but “is fully prepared to assume the legal risk associated with possible future lawsuits in the United States,” the company responded in a press release.
The company says it will “admit no wrong or liability” and “continue to support its Roundup products, a valuable tool for efficient agricultural production around the world.”
“Probably carcinogenic,” but not for Monsanto
Edwin Hardeman, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2015, was one of the first to take Monsanto to court, blaming his cancer on the herbicide he had used on his large property for 25 years.
He accused the Monsanto group of misleading users by claiming the glyphosate product was harmless and had no warnings on its labels, and filed a civil lawsuit in 2016.
Bayer was ordered to pay $25 million in damages in 2019, a decision upheld on appeal in 2021.
The company then appealed to the United States Supreme Court. She appealed the ruling, noting that the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) believes Roundup use does not merit a special cancer warning.
The General Counsel, who represents the administration, had pleaded in May to dismiss the group’s motion, marking a change in the administration’s tone towards the Trump presidency. The Justice Department then sided with Bayer at the time of the appeal.
The main active ingredient in Roundup is glyphosate, which has been classified as “probably carcinogenic” by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).
But Monsanto has always insisted that no study has concluded that glyphosate and Roundup, marketed in the 1970s, are dangerous.
Ready to fight “unreasonable” complaints
German company Bayer, which acquired Monsanto for $63 billion in 2018, has since been embroiled in several weed killer-related lawsuits in the United States.
He signed a $10 billion agreement with the claimants’ representatives in June 2020. The parties had agreed to add $2 billion to settle future grievances, but that agreement was rejected by a California judge in May 2021.
In an attempt to permanently end all proceedings, the group presented a five-point plan in May 2021 to initiate talks on the unwritten grievances in the event of a Supreme Court defeat in the Hardeman case. contract 2010.
On Tuesday, Bayer said it was “fully prepared to defend cases in court where plaintiffs’ expectations are unreasonable and outside the scope of this program.”
The German company points out that several judgments related to the herbicide have recently been passed in its favour, and reminds that the Supreme Court has to rule on another case against which it has appealed: a decision by which Alva and Alberta Pilliod were awarded $87 million for lymphoma after years of using Roundup.