Bayer AG has agreed to postpone a pair of upcoming Monsanto Roundup trials, giving settlement negotiators more time to resolve the massive and costly litigation.
The trials were set to begin next month in California, and both involve plaintiffs who blame glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto Roundup, for causing cancer. According to Bloomberg News, the first was scheduled to get underway in Ocean County Superior Court on January 15th, but is now delayed for six months.
The second case would have gone before a jury in Alameda County Superior Court on January 20th, with a new trial date yet to be determined.
Glyphosate is the most popular weed killer in the world, but was declared a probable human carcinogen by the World Health Organization in March 2015.
Bayer, which acquired Monsanto in June 2018, now faces around 43,000 Monsanto Roundup lawsuits in the United States that blame glyphosate for causing cancer. Plaintiffs claim, among other things, that Monsanto worked aggressively to discredit the IARC review, ghostwrote favorable glyphosate studies, and unduly influenced regulatory reviews of the herbicide, all in a bid to conceal glyphosate’s link to cancer.
Bayer shares have lost about 30% of their value since the acquisition, mainly due to the Monsanto Roundup litigation. Three cases have already gone to trial, and Bayer has yet to win a single verdict.
Bayer is appealing the Roundup verdicts, but is also participating in court-ordered mediation headed by Kenneth Feinberg, the prominent attorney behind the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund and other high-profile legal settlements. While the company continues to deny any cancer risk, Bayer’s CEO has also indicated a willingness to enter into an “economically reasonable” Roundup settlement.
Recently, Feinberg indicated the settlement talks were going “slowly, but steadily,” adding that the parties were working to clarify all justified claims alleging glyphosate caused cancer.
While the two California Roundup trials have been postponed, other cases are scheduled to go before juries next year in Missouri, Montana and Hawaii state courts, and on the federal level in Nebraska, Illinois, and North Carolina.