Roundup Weed Killer

Read Baltimore Sun environmental writer Scott Dance’s June 24, 2020, article titled, “A $550M national class-action settlement includes money for cleanup of PCBs in Baltimore waterways.” He offers the Maryland angle on the $550 million class action settlement between Monsanto and 13 government agencies across the U.S., just part of a much larger agreement.

“The settlement was one of several that Monsanto’s owner, German pharmaceutical company Bayer, announced Wednesday. Bayer said it’s paying up to $10.9 billion to settle current and potential future litigation over Monsanto’s weedkiller Roundup, which has faced numerous lawsuits over claims it causes cancer, and $1.22 billion to settle two further cases, including the class action focused on PCBs.”

Dance writes that the terms of this settlement are off to Judge Fernando M. Olquin of the Central District of California for his review. Judge Olquin was one of the presenters on multiple panels at the Class Action Law Forum presented by Western Alliance Bank and produced by my team at HB. Kenneth R. Feinberg, also a presenter, is the court-appointed special master in the case.

The Baltimore Sun piece was one of many that gave the local perspective on this nationwide litigation and settlement in progress, like this one from the San Francisco Chronicle, with a Seattle dateline, and this one from the Washington State Wire quoting the state’s AG, and this one from the Portland Tribune, with a take on the Oregon impact. And law firms, which stand to gain a great deal in attorney fees issued announcements of their part in the deal, like this one from Baron & Budd. It doesn’t appear the leading defense firm, Skadden Arps, issued a separate statement, but joined in the Bayer announcement. It quoted the firm’s John Beisner, “a consultant to Bayer’s Supervisory Board and a mass tort expert,” as saying, “Taking account of various options, I am convinced this plan provides a comprehensive, reasonable solution to the complex, contested issues presented by this litigation.”

Bayer’s announcement from Leverkusen, Germany, basically said it was the right thing to do, but that it admits to no wrong-doing.

“Bayer announced today a series of agreements that will substantially resolve major outstanding Monsanto litigation, including U.S. Roundup™ product liability litigation, dicamba drift litigation and PCB water litigation. The main feature is the U.S. Roundup™ resolution that will bring closure to approximately 75% of the current Roundup™ litigation involving approximately 125,000 filed and unfiled claims overall. The resolved claims include all plaintiff law firms leading the Roundup™ federal multi-district litigation (MDL) or the California bellwether cases, and those representing approximately 95% of the cases currently set for trial, and establish key values and parameters to guide the resolution of the remainder of the claims as negotiations advance. The resolution also puts in place a mechanism to resolve potential future claims efficiently. The company will make a payment of $8.8 billion to $9.6 billion to resolve the current Roundup™ litigation, including an allowance expected to cover unresolved claims, and $1.25 billion to support a separate class agreement to address potential future litigation. The Roundup™ class agreement will be subject to approval by Judge Vince Chhabria of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The resolutions were approved unanimously by Bayer’s Board of Management and Supervisory Board with input from its Special Litigation Committee. The agreements contain no admission of liability or wrongdoing.”

The company said it can now get on with tackling global challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, and generally “improv[ing] quality of life for a growing and aging population of an estimated 10 billion people by 2050.”