Bayer has agreed on draft settlement terms with half a dozen law firms representing tens of thousands of plaintiffs alleging that the company’s Roundup weedkiller causes cancer, pushing the litigation closer to a final resolution, according to people familiar with the matter.
The six big firms speak on behalf of dozens of firms that represent a large chunk of the plaintiffs suing Bayer, the people said. Bayer is striving to find a way to both keep Roundup on consumer shelves and end litigation that significantly damaged its share price following the loss of three jury trials in the U.S.
For weeks, Bayer and plaintiffs attorneys have been discussing a settlement in the $10 billion range, The Wall Street Journal has reported. One person said the deal still appears poised to end up around that number, though sources cautioned that a formal deal hasn’t been signed and could yet fall apart.
Parties on both sides are free to walk away from the agreements, and Bayer has said that protecting itself from future litigation is a condition of any settlement.
Tens of thousands of plaintiffs have sued Bayer, saying Roundup is linked to cancer. The company has defended the popular weedkiller, noting that multiple regulators, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, have said it is safe. The company lost its first three jury trials, all of which it is appealing.
Bayer may still struggle to achieve finality in the case, especially given that the product remains on store shelves. Some law firms representing thousands of plaintiffs remain unhappy with the terms offered so far, saying that it favors the leading firms over others. It is unclear if this complaint will be enough reason for them to reject the certainty offered by a settlement versus going to trial.
“Cancer victims have to be treated the same, and if they’re not, we’re ready, willing and fully motivated to go to trial,” said Majed Nachawati, a Dallas-based attorney representing more than 4,000 claimants.
Source: Wall Street Journal