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Bayer Working to Minimize Roundup Payouts
USAgNet - 06/02/2020

If Bayer AG wants to keep total Roundup liability capped at $10 billion, it may be crucial to get a 2018 California court verdict overturned. On Tuesday, the German chemical giant will ask the state appeals court to toss a jury conclusion that Roundup caused grounds keeper Lee Johnson's cancer. Johnson was awarded $289 million before a judge cut the damages to $78.5 million. By comparison, the company has been reaching settlements in thousands of other cases that range from a few thousand dollars to several million per claim, people familiar with those agreements said last month.

Bloomberg News reports that while Bayer has reached verbal deals on many of the estimated 125,000 Roundup lawsuits in the U.S., tens of thousands remain unresolved. Legal experts say the company wants to limit payouts on those claims, and to reduce the incentive for new lawsuits, by fighting the only three cases that have gone to trial -- all losses, including a $2 billion award to a California couple in 2019 that was later cut to $86.7 million by a judge.

Bayer shares rose as much as 5.4% in Frankfurt trading Tuesday, reaching the highest level in more than a month.

The company has been working to end the costly legal battle it inherited when it acquired Monsanto in 2018. Since that deal, Bayer lost those three court cases and new claims about Roundup surged, dragging down shares more than a third and wiping billions of dollars from the company's market value.

An appeals court loss for Bayer could spark more Roundup lawsuits, just as the original jury verdict did, Bloomberg reports.

The Roundup lawsuits Bayer faces are filed by users who developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma. For plaintiffs who are already ill, the coronavirus crisis has only added urgency to settle with a corporation willing to finance "multiple layers of appeals" in the three verdict cases.

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