Supreme Court decides Bayer's glyphosate case

Leverkusen/Washington/Kansas CityThe U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide by Monday whether to hear a landmark case in Bayer’s glyphosate litigation. The nine judges deliberated on Thursday, according to court documents.

The result is usually announced on the following Monday, but publication on Friday is not excluded. Although it does not currently appear that the judges will hear the case – a surprise is conceivable, as well as a delay should the judges need more time to get an idea.

Bayer had to pay damages in 2019

In the case of plaintiff Edwin Hardeman, Bayer received a guilty verdict in 2019 and was ordered to pay a good $25 million in damages. Hardeman blames the controversial glyphosate-containing weed killer Roundup from the US agricultural chemicals group Monsanto, which Bayer acquired in 2018, for his cancer. The Dax group rejects the accusations and argues with the approval of many supervisory authorities for the product and with studies that are intended to prove that products containing glyphosate are harmless if used correctly.

AP/Reed Saxon

From 2023, Bayer’s Roundup weed killer for private use will no longer contain glyphosate.

In the application to the Supreme Court, Bayer argues with the so-called “Federal Preemption”. The company’s position is that claims for damages for allegedly inadequate warnings about cancer risks cannot exist under state law if they conflict with federal law. In addition, the group is of the opinion that the admission of experts as witnesses for the plaintiffs did not meet federal standards in the process.

Bayer is prepared with $4.5 billion

Should the Supreme Court overturn the 2019 decision, it would send out a signal to future plaintiffs. Bayer hopes to then be able to basically tick off the glyphosate cause. The US government, represented by the so-called Solicitor General, spoke out against a negotiation in mid-May. While this is not binding on the Supreme Court, it makes a trial unlikely. It should be noted, however, that only four of the nine judges have to agree to an acceptance, so no majority is required.

Still, acceptance would come as a minor positive surprise to Bayer investors. Because in the event that the Supreme Court does not want to deal with the proceedings or ultimately decides against Bayer, the group had already made additional provisions of 4.5 billion US dollars (4.2 billion euros) last summer. The company then plans 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.

No more glyphosate in Roundup by 2023

However, if there is a negotiation and a judgment is made in favor of the Dax group, the provisions could possibly be partially reversed. In the event of a rejection of a procedure, not much would change in view of the provisions already made for potential lawsuits. Bayer wants to reduce the risk of future lawsuits by no longer containing glyphosate in the version for private buyers of the weed killer Roundup in the USA from 2023.

The fact that the group won in a current trial in Kansas City, Missouri this Thursday makes the group optimistic. The jury found that the herbicide was not responsible for the plaintiff’s cancer. “This conclusion is consistent with 40 years of scientific evidence, as well as assessments by regulators around the world, that Roundup is safe to use and not carcinogenic,” a company spokesman said. Bayer therefore welcomed the verdict, but at the same time expressed sympathy to the plaintiff.

The Leverkusen team is faced with numerous other similar US lawsuits. Although the group has now prevailed in three glyphosate lawsuits in a row in the USA, it has also previously lost three lawsuits in a row.

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