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Bayer glyphosate lawsuits mounting in the US

Bayer is facing a surge in US lawsuits from plaintiffs seeking damages for exposure to legacy company Monsanto's glyphosate herbicide, over claims of a no warnings of a link of cancer to use of the product.

Bayer is facing a surge in US lawsuits from plaintiffs seeking damages for exposure to legacy company Monsanto's glyphosate herbicide, over claims of a no warnings of a link of cancer to use of the product, media report. The pro-GMO information service, the Genetic Literacy Project, cites research from JP Morgan Chase that the number of cases could have reached 45,000. The number of plaintiffs had reached 18,400 as of July 11th,  Bayer reported at its latest quarterly financial presentation. That alone was an increase of some 5,000 in three months.

The company told Agrow that it cannot comment on the JP Morgan report but that it will report on the plaintiff number in its quarterly report on October 30th. However, it "expects to see a significant surge in the number of plaintiff filings in the third quarter". Bayer notes an exponential increase in advertising for litigation following Judge Chhabria's appointment of Ken Feinberg as a mediator in the Roundup multi-district litigation on May 22nd. That "may reflect a campaign by plaintiffs' lawyers and lead generators to increase the volume of plaintiffs as quickly as possible in connection with that process", the company adds.

The plaintiffs are claiming that Monsanto had failed to warn that exposure to the herbicide had put them at risk of contracting cancer. Cases pending in US federal courts have been consolidated into a multi-district litigation in the Northern District of California for common pre-trial management. The company has reported that it will engage in the mediation process ordered by the judge presiding over the multi-district litigation.

Bayer has already lost three cases on the issue. In July, a California state court judge slashed damages awarded to a couple who claimed that Monsanto's glyphosate-based herbicides had caused their cancer from over $2 billion to under $87 million.

Last August, a California jury awarded a former school groundskeeper some $279 million in a similar case. The state judge overseeing that trial reduced the award to some $78 million. That case has gone to an appeal in which the plaintiff is seeking the reintroduction of the original penalty, while Bayer is counter-suing for the case to be dismissed.

In March, a federal jury convened by the US District Court for the Northern District of California awarded another California resident some $80 million. In July, a federal judge cut that award to just over $25 million. The company reported five lawsuits in Canada at its half-year statement, while national reports show that the first Australian case has been filed this month.

The lawsuits and damages have severely hit the Bayer group's share price. It fell by over 40% from the first case until June this year. It has since rebounded some 20% from those lows. It remains almost 30% down from the pre-crisis high.

Bayer acquired Monsanto for $66 million weeks before the first case was lost.

 

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