Bayer: Monsanto Roundup Lawsuits Likely Surged in Third Quarter

Published on October 17, 2019 by Sandy Liebhard

Monsanto Roundup lawsuits continue to pile up, with Bayer AG and others warning that the number of filings likely surged during the third quarter of 2019.

At last count, more 18,400 cases alleging a link between Monsanto Roundup and cancer had been filed in courts throughout the United States.  Earlier this month, however, a JP Morgan analyst speculated that the number of filings could rise to 45,000, based on a review of court data.

A statement issued yesterday also indicated Bayer was bracing for a sharp uptick in filings.

“With the substantial increase in plaintiff advertising this year, we expect to see a significant surge in the number of plaintiff filings over the third quarter,” the company said, according to Reuters.

Bayer is due to provide an update for Roundup lawsuit filings on October 30th, when it reports third quarter earnings.

Bayer Shares Down Sharply Since Roundup Verdicts

Bayer inherited the massive Roundup litigation last summer, when it acquired Monsanto for $63 billion.

Plaintiffs allege that exposure to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto Roundup, caused non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other cancers. While Bayer disputes the allegations, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer declared glyphosate a probable human carcinogen in March 2015.

Three Monsanto Roundup lawsuits have gone to trial since August 2018, with Bayer yet to win a single verdict. Initial jury awards ranged from $289 million to $80 billion, although all were later reduced after trial judges found punitive damages excessive.

According to Reuters, Bayer shares have fallen about 30% since last summer, largely due to the Roundup verdicts. The debacle even drew a rare rebuke from investors during the company’s annual meeting last March.

Bayer Under Pressure for Monsanto Roundup Settlement

Bayer has indicated it would be open to a “reasonable” Roundup settlement, even while maintaining that the lawsuits have no merit and denying any link between glyphosate and cancer.

According to Bloomberg News, analysts have estimated that settling the cases could cost between $2.5 billion and $20 billion. Investors are pressuring Bayer to resolve the litigation, with some suggesting that any global Roundup settlement under $10 billion would be worthwhile.

Earlier this year, the company agreed to participate in a court ordered mediation effort being led by Kenneth Feinberg, the prominent attorney who also led talks to settle claims stemming from the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the BP oil spill, and the GM ignition switch scandal.

Several Monsanto Roundup trials have been postponed to allow the parties to focus on the settlement talks.

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