Bayer AG has postponed yet another Monsanto Roundup trial, increasing speculation that the company could be on the verge of settling tens of thousands of lawsuits alleging the glyphosate-based herbicide caused cancer.
According to Law.com, Bayer agreed to the postponement just before opening arguments were to get underway in St. Louis, Missouri.
“The continuance is intended to provide room for the parties to continue the mediation process in good faith under the auspices of Ken Feinberg, and avoid the distractions that can arise from trials,” the company said in statement issued last Friday. “While Bayer is constructively engaged in the mediation process, there is no comprehensive agreement at this time. There also is no certainty or timetable for a comprehensive resolution.”
Bayer is defending nearly 43,000 Monsanto Roundup lawsuits in courts throughout the United State, all of which allege exposure to glyphosate caused users to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. However, Roundup attorneys apparently have thousands of additional cases ready for filing, and many legal experts believe claims could eventually exceed 75,000.
Glyphosate, the active ingredient in the line of Monsanto Roundup weed killers, is the most popular herbicide in the world. But the World Health Organization declared glyphosate a probable human carcinogen in March 2015, after an independent review conducted by the International Agency for Research on Cancer linked occupational exposure to an increased risk of cancer – especially non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Bayer has lost all three Monsanto Roundup lawsuits that have gone to trial so far, with juries awarding plaintiffs verdicts ranging from $80 million to $2 billion. The company continues to deny glyphosate causes cancer and is appealing those verdicts.
Last year, Bayer agreed to participate in court ordered mediation led by Kenneth Feinberg, the prominent attorney who has successfully guided other high-profile legal negotiations to resolution, including talks that ultimately resulted in the 9/11 Victim’s Compensation Fund. Earlier this month, Feinberg expressed optimism that the Roundup litigation would be resolved, while media reports suggest was Bayer is willing to pay as much as $10 billion to settle pending and future claims.
The Missouri trial was just the most recent case postponed to facilitate mediation. However, another Monsanto Roundup lawsuit is set to go to trial in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, on February 24th.