Carey Gillam reports: Bayer's $9.6 billion Roundup "settlement" is far from settled

U.S Right to Know writer and analyst Carey Gillam's July 6 update on the Bayer class-action lawsuit raises doubts whether Bayer's proposed settlement of "up to $9.5 billion" will gain court approval.

Carey Gillam

July 7, 2020 — Gillam has covered the glyphosate controversy for many years for several news services. She's assembled more background research on the issue than any other reporter we know. Her reports are consistently anchored in facts — a contrast to most mainstream media reporters who've spent little time digging for solid information. 

We recommend that you read her July 6 story, "Court frowns on Bayer's proposed Roundup class-action settlement."

Here are her key points at a glance:

  • Bayer arranged the proposed settlement with a small group of attorneys who've not been involved in the major litigation against Bayer, including the three individual plaintiffs who won lawsuits charging that Roundup was a cause of their non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The small group of attorneys who arranged this would receive more than $150 million for their role.

 

  • Future cancer-related claims would not be subject to jury decisions. A five-member scientific panel would decide whether there was a causal connection between Roundup and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Bayer would appoint two of the five. Convincing just one of the three non-Bayer panel members could lead to a denial of all claims. 

 

  • Bayer's plan requires approval of Judge Vince Chhabria of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Gillam writes that a preliminary order from Judge Chhabria "indicates he does not plan to grant approval."

 

 

Here's our brief commentary on future legal risks of weedkillers and other farm pesticides:

We sense a rising global concern about the continued expansion of weed and pest control methods that rely heavily on toxic chemicals. Much of the worldwide corn and soybean seed industry is accelerating this trend. In sharp contrast, the megatrend of rising environmental and health concerns is becoming a greater legal threat to these technologies. Result for farmers is that large, chemical-dependent GMO row-crop farmers are "brittle" and inflexible.

Example: The recent federal court ruling which ordered a halt to dicamba application, which was sidestepped temporarily by EPA.

Example: At least one law firm is encouraging prospective plaintiffs to sue for dicamba damage. A Missouri jury's $265 million award to peach grower Bill Bader in his lawsuit against herbicide providers Bayer and BASF is a strong precedent. 

Multinational seed/chemical giants always factor future legal costs into their present pricing. Result: farmers will pay for corporate legal risks implicit in every tote of weedkiller and every bag of seed.