In 2018, Bayer acquired Monsanto, the company behind the world's most popular weed killer- Roundup. Bayer was already a chemical and pharmaceutical giant, but their company portfolio expanded with Monsanto's Roundup. This popular weed killer had already become a household name and was being used liberally throughout the United States and globally. With the acquisition, Bayer took over manufacturing and distributing Roundup.
Cancer Claims Following Bayer's Acquisition of Monsanto
Not long after the acquisition, claims that Roundup was causing cancer began to increase beyond what Monsanto had experienced. Bayer started to do everything they could to settle the claims without having to put warning labels on Roundup products because they didn't believe it was warranted. They stood by their statement that it wasn't a harmful product. However, they were willing to pay over $10 billion to victims of their product in 2020.
Those who have come forward about the adverse health effects and cancer cases they claimed to have developed from using Roundup include:
- Homeowners/Gardening Hobbyists
To date, over 150,000 plaintiffs have come forward to sue Bayer/Monsanto for their negligence in warning consumers about the dangers of Roundup.
Bayer's Claims of the Safety of Glyphosate vs. The Reality
Glyphosate has been labeled as a "probable human carcinogen" by the IARC and WHO. While the chemical itself in Roundup and other weed killers is considered harmless, it becomes very toxic when combined with certain inert ingredients. Such is the case with Roundup's unique weed killer formula, according to critics.
Monsanto and Bayer denounce the potential harms of their product, stating that they have years of research to back their claim. Many country regulators have agreed with Bayer and Monsanto's claims in the past. But it's becoming increasingly clear that something is not right. Some research labs have studied Roundup and believe that the inert ingredients in Roundup are increasing the toxicity of the glyphosate in the product. This increase in toxicity is believed to be contributing to the development of cancer and other Roundup exposure-related illnesses.
Some regulatory agencies back the Bayer/Monsanto claims. The National Institutes of Health, for example, has stated that it doesn't believe there is an association between glyphosate and the risk of cancer. However, they did say that evidence backing this became more ambiguous with higher levels of Roundup exposure. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has also sided with Bayer/Monsanto on the topic. It claims the cancer risk is nonexistent.
According to critics, these conclusions may have been based on incomplete information that Monsanto provided. Critics believe that the reason for the discrepancy between the WHO and IARC versus other regulatory agencies is the types of questions that were asked and how the data was interpreted. Due to the possibility of harm to communities, many cities and districts worldwide have restricted the use of glyphosate or banned it entirely.
To date, there is no definitive scientific evidence that Roundup does or doesn't cause cancer. There are, however, some courts setting precedence for how Bayer will be held responsible for the harm they've allegedly caused consumers who've used Roundup.
Timeline of Notable Roundup Related Lawsuits
A lot has happened since Bayer first acquired Monsanto and legal proceedings started. Here's a simple breakdown of what has happened since the first lawsuit went to court in 2019.
- May 2019: Bayer was ordered by a California jury to pay $2 billion for punitive damages and $55 million in compensation (for other damages) to a couple who allegedly developed cancer after 30 years of Roundup use. The judge later reduced this amount because the amount "seemed out of step with legal precedent."
- July 2019: A plaintiff was awarded $75 million by a federal jury in California after allegedly developing cancer from 25+ years of Roundup use. The judge later decreased the amount to $20 million, calling the amount "constitutionally impermissible" due to the $5 million awarded for compensatory damages.
- June 2020: California's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment of glyphosate was uprooted by a federal court judge's ruling that Bayer isn't required to put a safety warning on Roundup. Sources say that the judge declared that "requiring Bayer to provide the warning on Roundup is a violation of its free speech protections." A significant settlement also took place that resolved about 75% of the 125,000 Roundup lawsuits Bayer faced at the time.
- July 2020: After much back and forth, a California school groundskeeper was awarded $20.5 million in damages after allegedly developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma from years of Roundup use. The California appellate court also denied Bayer's request to overturn the trial court's decision. This was the first Roundup injury lawsuit to reach a verdict.
- September 2020: Plaintiffs and Bayer/Monsanto agree to settle 15,000 lawsuits over different health problems linked to Roundup exposure. The settlement terms weren't announced publicly, but these agreements were known to be part of a $10.9 billion settlement in Roundup multi-district litigation.
- February 2021: Bayer announced a proposal for $2 billion to resolve any future lawsuits involving Roundup products.
- Early May 2021: Bayer sought preliminary approval for its $2 billion settlement agreement from U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria.
Where the Roundup Lawsuits Land Today
As of May 26th, 2021, U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria rejected Bayer's $2 billion settlement proposal. The judge stated that the proposal was "clearly unreasonable" and couldn't be salvaged by "mere tweaks." The settlement would have created a fund and medical monitoring program for Roundup users diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma but hadn't yet sued and Roundup users who had not yet been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma but wanted to be monitored. The medical monitoring and compensation fund would have lasted for four years. To receive these benefits, plaintiffs wouldn't be allowed to seek punitive damages in any future lawsuits against Bayer if they chose to opt out of the fund. Plus, it required the admission of the opinion of a science panel about Roundup causing or not causing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in future trials.
The judge believed that the settlement favored Bayer/Monsanto too much, and that victims should be allowed to seek punitive damages if the company continues to refuse to put warning labels on Roundup. The judge referred to past trials and noted the long latency period for Roundup exposure and didn't believe four years was adequate for plaintiffs to collect the actual value of their claims.
After the judge's ruling, Bayer made it known that it would be looking into other ways to minimize Roundup lawsuits. It is also currently seeking authorization from the EPA to put a warning label on Roundup to warn about the product's possible connection to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
This is all good news for victims of Bayer/Monsanto's Roundup! This allows you or your loved ones to pursue the actual value of your illness and receive fair compensation. If you've been a victim of Roundup exposure and you'd like to file a lawsuit, fill out our free case evaluation today to get started.