Bayer has proposed a new $2 billion settlement in its ongoing Roundup litigation battle. This amount will apply to future lawsuits alleging Roundup causes cancer. The settlement details differ sharply from those proposed (and rejected) last year.
Roundup Litigation At-A-Glance
The Issue: Plaintiffs claim glyphosate-based Roundup weedkiller causes cancer. Many plaintiffs developed non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) after years of chronic exposure to Roundup.
Court Cases So Far: Bayer has lost every lawsuit and appeal to date. In some appeals, award amounts have been reduced. But, no judgment has been completely overturned. In total, plaintiffs have been awarded billions of dollars.
Previous Settlement: In June 2020, Bayer agreed to resolve approximately 100,000 Roundup lawsuits. The price tag for settling those lawsuits was estimated around $10.9 billion.
Bayer's Proposed Settlement Details
This settlement offer applies to individuals who have not yet filed lawsuits related to Roundup cancer. According to the proposal, the settlement class is composed of individuals meeting one of the criteria below:
- Previously diagnosed with NHL after Roundup exposure but have not yet filed a lawsuit
- Previously exposed to Roundup and develop NHL in the future
The settlement period would be limited to the next four years. Claimants would be awarded up to $200,000 depending on their individual case and circumstances.
Class members who accept the settlement would not be able to sue. However, all class members would retain the option to refuse the settlement and pursue litigation through the courts.
The $2 billion fund would also cover other expenses, including:
- A non-Hodgkin's lymphoma testing program
- Legal assistance for class members
- Creation of a science panel to assess medical evidence related to glyphosate and cancer
- Outreach efforts aimed at informing eligible individuals about the settlement
New Science Panel Reports Would Be Admissible in Court
A version of the science panel was suggested in a previous settlement proposal. The earlier version would have had the power to determine if a true relationship exists between Roundup and NHL. If the panel found no relationship, future lawsuits would be barred.
U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria oversees the case in federal court. He rejected the prior settlement proposal. In his rejection, he specifically called out the details related to the science panel. This may have factored into the newest version of the science panel, which takes a very different approach.
The most recent proposal would create a slightly different science panel. The newer panel would be empowered to study medical evidence on Roundup and cancer. The panel would create official reports, and those reports would be admissible in court. However, the reports would be held in an advisory capacity only. No matter the outcome of those reports, plaintiffs would still retain the right to pursue legal action against Bayer.
How Well Does the Settlement Cover NHL Treatment Costs?
Treatment costs for NHL vary based upon the type and severity of each case. A full year of treatment can cost anywhere from $97,000 to $190,000. Individuals with health insurance may pay only a fraction of these costs. But, those without insurance coverage may be stuck with the entire bill.
According to the American Cancer Society, more than half of all NHL patients survive 5 years or longer. This means many NHL patients could be on the hook for hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars. With a maximum payout of $200,000 per claimant, the proposed settlement would cover only a small portion of NHL treatment costs.
Judge Must Accept Roundup Settlement Offer to Make It Official
Judge Vincent Chhabria has not yet commented on this new settlement proposal. Thus, we do not know if the changes will be sufficient enough for him to accept it. He may take issue with the paltry amount of the individual settlement compared to the cost of NHL treatment. He may also find fault in a number of other provisions.
At this time, no hearing has been scheduled regarding the proposed settlement. We will report any updates on this topic here in the news section.