Monsanto Roundup weed killer lawsuits was the biggest mass tort in the country. Lawyers everywhere were looking for potential victims. Now there has been a huge settlement in the billions of dollars. Many victims have already agreed to settle and are waiting for an update on when they will get their money. (One problem with finalizing the settlement is Bayer’s effort to settle not only with current victims but future victims that were not a part of the Roundup settlement process.)
But Roundup is still on the market. If you have a Roundup herbicide non-Hodgin’s lymphoma cancer case, call a Roundup cancer lawsuit attorney. Not today. Right now. Because the statute of limitations may come upon you quickly. The statute of limitations is a harsh and unforgiving deadline that is near impossible to get around.
Last year, when COVID hit, I made a prediction after Bayer began trying to get a haircut on the settlement. Why? The coronavirus, of course. First Bayer put out this statement:
We’ve made progress in the Roundup mediation discussions, but the COVID-19 dynamics, including restrictions imposed in recent weeks, have caused meeting cancellations and delayed this process … As a result, the mediation process has significantly slowed, and realistically, we expect this will continue to be the case for the immediate future. During this time, we will continue to do whatever we can to help combat the global COVID-19 pandemic, consistent with our vision of ‘health for all, hunger for none.’ We cannot speculate about potential outcomes from the negotiations or timing, given the uncertainties surrounding the pandemic and the confidentiality of this process, but we remain committed to engaging in mediation in good faith.
This was my prediction:
The long and short of it is that Bayer AG could have had most of these cases settled for much less than three years ago. They gambled and lost. But they managed to find a settlement path that really saved the company. Now they want to take advantage of COVID-19 to save a few billion. This is their legal right when the ink is not dry on the settlement.
But walking away from settlement talks could be both a disaster for plaintiffs and the road to bankruptcy for Bayer. I suspect Bayer’s lawyers keep advising the company to roll the dice. Again. I think if this is the path they want to take, juries have many more lessons to teach them.
Ultimately, I think judges will prioritize these cases when the courts finally reopen post-COVID-19. At that point, Bayer will be reminded that this litigation is a threat to its very existence.
I was right. Bayer did (mostly) pay the full value for the Roundup settlements.
- CNBC article on Bayer’s tactics
The Crux of the Roundup Litigation
A key ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, is associated with several cancers, including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, hairy cell leukemia, and multiple myeloma. (Our law firm is not taking multiple myeloma lawsuits, unfortunately.)
This concern has caused public outrage by consumers who have been using Roundup for years or even decades. Monsanto vigorously found the possibility that Roundup causes cancer. After Bayer purchased Monsanto, Bayer grabbed the torch of defending the safety of the produce.
Undeterred, lawyers filed thousands of lawsuits from victims who claim Roundup failed to warn of the possible risks with glyphosate and that the chemical ultimately caused their cancer.
In 2016, after cases began to pile up against the company, a federal judiciary panel created a Roundup MDL, which is a “sort of” class action of all the Roundup cases in federal court. This had the great benefit of allowing plaintiffs’ attorneys to work together to develop the facts and the science behind the glyphosate claims.
The first Roundup verdict came in August 2018 when jurors awarded a plaintiff with terminal cancer $289 million in damages to a groundskeeper exposed glyphosate weed killer. The jury found that Roundup was a substantial factor in Dewayne Johnson’s Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Importantly, $250 million of that award was punitive damages. What does that tell you? It tells you that the jury was angry.
That amount stunned everyone. Me included. Immediately, Bayer’s stock plummeted as the company began truly digesting, maybe for the first time, what the litigation exposure they had in these cases.
In February 2019, the first federal court case from the Roundup MDL went to trial and ordered Monsanto to pay out $80 million dollars. Only 3 months later, in May 2019, Monsanto was hit once again when jurors awarded a plaintiff with a staggering $2 billion dollars. Sure, some of these verdicts have been reduced. But the jurors are sending a loud message. This is how the mass settlement happened.
What Happens Next for New Roundup Lawsuits?
The old Roundup lawsuits will settle and people should get their money in 2021. We do not know the exact path for newly filed Roundup lawsuits. Will the MDL stay open? Will newly filed cases be treated as individual lawsuits? We just don’t know yet how it will play out. What we do know is that recent diagnosis cases are likely to have more value than older cases. Why? Clearly, Bayer knows of the risk of Roundup and it is making, we think, a very cold-blooded calculus that the lawsuits will be cheaper than the cost of giving up such a lucrative product. My prediction is the ultimate settlement value of newly diagnosed Roundup cases will be higher than the current settlements.
If My Roundup Case Settles, When Would I Get My Money?
The settlement of mass tort cases is a time-consuming process and COVID-19 has made it that much worse. When you would get your settlement payout is unknown. For many of our clients in the settlement, it will hopefully be in the spring of 2021. There are some issues that need to be sorted out first.