Bayer Roundup Deal Is Close as Claims Surge, Mediator Says

By Joel Rosenblatt | January 17, 2020

Bayer AG’s settlement of cancer lawsuits over its Roundup weed-killer may be only weeks away and is likely to cover more than 75,000 claims, almost double the number disclosed by the company in September, according to the court-appointed mediator in the litigation.

Mediator Ken Feinberg said in an interview Thursday that he remains “cautiously optimistic” a deal will be reached in about a month and that the accord would be comprehensive. Bayer disclosed in its third quarter report that it was facing 42,700 claims over the herbicide. Feinberg said the caseload has grown to between 75,000 and 85,000 and “maybe more.”

He declined to discuss terms of the possible settlement.

Chris Loder, a spokesman for Bayer, said the figure cited by Feinberg is “a speculative estimate” that includes “potential plaintiffs” who haven’t filed court complaints and that “the number of served cases as reported on a quarterly basis remains significantly below 50,000.”

After losing three trials in California that resulted in combined damages of $191 million, Bayer said in December that it agreed to postpone some Roundup trials to give mediation a chance, and at least a half-dozen trials scheduled to start this month and next have been put on hold. Bayer is appealing the verdicts it lost.

Two trials are set to start Friday, one in Martinez, California, a suburb of San Francisco, and the other in St. Louis, where Monsanto Co. produced Roundup before the company was acquired by Bayer in 2018.

Loder said an increase in cases is expected following $100 million spent by plaintiffs on TV advertising in 2019, “combined with speculation about settlement, factors that have driven up plaintiff numbers in the past.”

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