The controversial Roundup weed killer is back in the news again this week as Bayer AG, the company that bought agricultural giant Monsanto in 2018, will pay over $10 billion to resolve thousands of Roundup cancer lawsuits. These lawsuits were filed on the basis that Roundup, one of Monsanto’s signature products, causes cancer.
The law firm of Raphaelson & Levine deeply sympathizes with the many victims, their families, and friends who have suffered illnesses due to the use of Roundup, a product the company still maintains is safe for consumers to use.
Plaintiffs Allege Roundup Causes Cancer
Roundup is a commonly used herbicide and is marketed as killing unwanted weeds and grasses in both private and public spaces. However, the product’s safety has long been controversial. At the heart of the controversy is an organophosphorus compound called glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup Bayer herbicide.
- Previous studies conducted by the U.S. National Institutes of Health found no link between cancer risks and glyphosate, but the federal agency did acknowledge this evidence was uncertain when it comes to high exposure levels.
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency supported Monsanto stating it was a “false claim” if they were to label glyphosate products as cancer risks.
- In 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research concluded glyphosate was “probably carcinogenic to humans.”
Currently, there are approximately 125,000 people alleging the use of Roundup caused their cancer, specifically non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Plaintiffs allege Bayer AG (and Monsanto before them) ignored warnings Roundup contains harmful chemicals and neglected to warn consumers who use the product of its potential risks.
To date, three prominent cases have been won by plaintiffs who have suffered cancers due to the use of Roundup. Several other cases were scheduled to be heard this year, but talks of settlements postponed trials and later the COVID-19 pandemic affected court hearings being able to be held.
Why is the Bayer AG Settling?
Bayer AG is not admitting any guilt or liability, indicating it wants to put the lawsuits they inherited from its Monsanto purchase behind them. Officially, the company has said it wants to “focus fully” on the “critical supply of health care and food.” As part of the settlement, Bayer will pay $10.1 to $10.9 billion, with roughly $9 billion of the total amount earmarked to settle current litigation against them. The New York Times reports this deal, announced June 24, is “among the largest settlements,” ever to have been reached in U.S. civil litigation.
Individual plaintiffs, depending on their circumstances and strength of their cases, are estimated to receive between $5,000 to $250,000. Once these settlement payments are made, it will resolve approximately 75% of the claims made against the company. However, thousands of plaintiffs haven’t agreed to current settlement terms.
Worthy to note, Bayer AG also set aside $400 million to settle a separate set of claims relating to a different Monsanto chemical called dicamba. This set of plaintiffs allege when the pesticide is sprayed, it drifts to neighboring properties and inflicts damage on plants and gardens.
However, on May 4, 2020, the National Institutes of Health issued a press release about dicamba use, stating it can increase risk of several developing cancers, including liver and intrahepatic bile duct cancers, acute and chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and mantle cell lymphoma. At this time it is not known how many people have suffered due to dicamba use or exposure.
What Comes Next?
Along with the Roundup settlement, Bayer AG set aside $1.25 billion to support an independent expert panel. This panel will be tasked to answer two primary questions about glyphosate and its safety levels.
- Can glyphosate be effectively linked as a cause of cancer?
- What are the minimum exposures or dosages that make the product dangerous to consumers?
If this newly-established panel determines glyphosate is a carcinogen, Bayer won’t be able to argue its safety in future lawsuits. Consequently, if the panel surmises it is safe, attorneys for class action cases will “be similarly bound,” reports the New York Times.
Critics maintain evidence the herbicide is safe is insufficient. As a result, many markets have pulled the product from its shelves. However, many more are still selling Roundup putting millions of consumers at potential risk since they aren’t being warned of any negative consequences.
Raphaelson & Levine Law Firm is Here to Support You
If you, or a loved one, became ill after using Roundup or have suffered from another type of toxic exposure, the compassionate and knowledgeable lawyers at Raphaelson & Levine are here to support you. Our attorneys will assertively fight to see you receive justice for your physical injuries and any emotional trauma you’ve suffered.
To learn more about the effects of Roundup, other toxic exposures, or your legal rights, contact us at 212-268-3222 to receive a free consultation.