Glyphosate litigation: Bayer fails at the Supreme Court

As of: 06/21/2022 4:42 p.m

The chemical company Bayer has failed with a planned glyphosate appeal before the US Supreme Court. The Supreme Court said it would not accept the appeal. Bayer now has to pay $25 million.

The Bayer Group has failed in a groundbreaking legal dispute over alleged cancer risks of the weed killer glyphosate with an appeal to the US Supreme Court. The US Supreme Court announced that it would not deal with the case, which would be decisive for many other US proceedings.

For Bayer, this means that the possibility of a liberation strike in the ongoing conflict over legacy legal issues that the agrochemical and pharmaceutical company had burdened itself with when it took over US seed giant Monsanto in 2018 at a cost of more than $60 billion is dying.

$25 million in damages

Specifically, the application to the Supreme Court was about reviewing a judgment in favor of the plaintiff Edwin Hardeman, who had blamed Monsanto products containing glyphosate for his cancer. In 2019, after a court case, he was ultimately awarded a good $25 million in damages. The group, on the other hand, went before the Supreme Court last August.

Bayer denies that glyphosate causes cancer. The company’s argument is based on regulatory approvals and studies to show weed killers like Monsanto’s controversial product Roundup are safe when used as directed. Bayer had hoped that the Supreme Court would overturn the decision. That would have had a signal effect for numerous other glyphosate lawsuits in the USA, on which legal risks worth billions depend for the group.

$4.5 billion in provisions

The decision of the US Supreme Court not to accept the present case comes as a surprise, but not. President Joe Biden’s administration had already advised the Supreme Court against accepting the case – a remarkable turnaround. Because under Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump, the government in Washington initially backed Bayer.

Bayer had previously made provisions in the event of a defeat at the Supreme Court. The company made an additional $4.5 billion in provisions last summer. The company wants to use this money to set up a program to deal with the claims of potential new plaintiffs in the USA over the next 15 years.

The many lawsuits Bayer is facing in the US are based in particular on an assessment by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer. In 2015, she classified Monsanto’s weed killer as “probably carcinogenic” to humans.

Bayer: “Can’t understand the rejection”

On the stock exchange, Bayer shares turned negative after the decision and were listed around 4.4 percent lower. “We cannot understand the Supreme Court’s rejection of the Hardeman case,” Bayer said. In its statement, however, the group indicated that it would continue to seek a clarifying glyphosate judgment at the highest court level in the USA.

Although the present decision ends the Hardeman case, there are other cases – including Roundup – that the Supreme Court can deal with. “We are encouraged by the intense support from public officials, farmer groups and other stakeholders following the US government’s legal about-face,” the company said.

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