The US Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to grant a request by the German group Bayer, which owns Monsanto, in a case involving its Roundup herbicide, opening the door to multi-billion dollar damages.
By not taking the case, the high court upheld an earlier court decision ordering the group to pay $25 million to a retiree, Edwin Hardeman, who attributes his cancer to glyphosate-based herbicide.
As usual, the Supreme Court did not justify its decision.
But the latter runs the risk of having serious consequences for the group, which is already facing more than 31,000 complaints in addition to those that have already reached an agreement, a figure that could rise.
The German company had already allocated 6.5 billion dollars to deal with these new procedures (2 billion initially and then an additional 4.5 billion after the rejection of a previous agreement). You may be required to pay more depending on how complaints are handled.
Bayer shares fell 2.26% at the close of the session to 61.93 euros on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.
“Bayer respectfully disagrees with the Supreme Court’s decision,” but “is fully prepared to face the legal risk associated with possible future claims in the United States,” the group reacted in a press release.
The company says it “admits no mistakes or liability” and “continues to support its Roundup products, a valuable tool for efficient agricultural production around the world.”
“Probably carcinogenic”, but not for Monsanto
Edwin Hardeman, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2015, was one of the first to take Monsanto to court, blaming his cancer on the herbicide he had used on his large property for 25 years.
He accused the Monsanto Group of misleading users by claiming the glyphosate product was harmless and had no warnings on its labels, and filed a civil lawsuit in 2016.
Bayer was ordered in 2019 to pay him $25 million in damages, a decision that was upheld on appeal in 2021.
The company then appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States. She challenged the verdict, pointing out that the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) believes that Roundup use does not warrant a special cancer warning.
The attorney general representing the government had argued in May that the group’s request be denied, marking a change in the government’s tone since the Trump presidency. The Justice Department later sided with Bayer at the time of the appeal.
The main active ingredient in Roundup is glyphosate, classified as “probable carcinogen” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the World Health Organization (WHO).
But Monsanto has always insisted that no study has concluded that glyphosate and Roundup, which were marketed in the 1970s, are dangerous.
Ready to fight “unreasonable” complaints
The German group Bayer, which acquired Monsanto in 2018 for $63 billion, has since been embroiled in multiple herbicide-related lawsuits in the United States.
He signed in June 2020 with the representatives of the plaintiffs an agreement of 10 billion dollars. The parties had agreed to add $2 billion to it to settle future complaints, but this agreement was rejected in May 2021 by a California judge.
In an attempt to permanently end all proceedings, the group put forward a five-point plan in May 2021 that, in the event of a Supreme Court defeat in the Hardeman case, it would initiate discussions on the unlawful allegations. included in the law. 2010 agreement.
On Tuesday, Bayer said it was “fully prepared to defend cases in court where plaintiffs’ expectations are unreasonable and outside the scope of this program.”
The German company points out that several sentences related to the herbicide have recently been issued in its favor and recalls that the Supreme Court must rule on another case on which it has appealed: a sentence that awards 87 million dollars to Alva and Alberta Pilliod, both with lymphoma after years of using Roundup.
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