OAKLAND – Two more Roundup trials were suspended last week as more reports have suggested a potential global settlement in the thousands of Bayer AG/Monsanto Roundup cancer lawsuits pending throughout the country. The agriculture giant, however, remains quiet on any such settlement talks.
“The parties have agreed to postpone the Jan. 15, 2020, trial date for the Bellah case in California Superior Court for Lake County and the Jan. 21 trial date for the Bargas case in the California Superior Court for Alameda County for approximately six months. The parties will work with the courts to set new schedules,” Bayer said in a statement.
Both plaintiffs in the postponed California trials are younger than 15 years of age, adding a new aspect to the litigation that have only seen adult plaintiffs thus far.
Bayer, which purchased Monsanto last year for $63 billion, has maintained its stance that the weed killer is safe despite losing all three cases in which plaintiffs have alleged that glyphosate, the active chemical in Roundup weed killer, has caused their cancer – specifically non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
In each case, the initial damages, which exceeded a total of $2 billion, were slashed by judges, but Bayer intends on pushing to further reduce those awards or reverse the verdicts entirely.
Regarding the number of recent postponements paired with the relative silence from both sides, Brian Kabateck, founding and managing partner of Kabateck LLP in Los Angeles, said it could mean settlement talks are in motion.
“I’ve litigated against Bayer in the past, they’re very hard fighters; they don’t roll over easily and just pay money, but they do settle cases and it would not be a surprise to me that they’ve asked for some kind of voluntary gag order on both sides,” said Kabateck.
Oftentimes a company’s volatile stock value can be the final straw in its push for a global settlement and, in settling, its stock could actually stabilize and once again be profitable for shareholders.
“For Bayer, they may well look at this and say ‘we’re losing stock value, we’ve got to do something,’” said Kabateck regarding Bayer’s more than 30 percent stock drop since its acquisition of Monsanto.
Kabateck also explained that due to the high volume of plaintiffs a large settlement would be most likely – but that doesn't mean that every plaintiff will see a large payday.
“Just because there’s a massive number of cases doesn’t mean they’re going to pay millions of dollars to every single person," said Kabateck. "There’s probably a fair number of cases which are weak and then there’s some that have substantial value. They’d come up with some kind of resolution in the case and it could be a very large settlement.”
A handful of trials are still scheduled to get under way in early 2020 in the Bay Area and in Monsanto’s longtime hometown of St. Louis, Mo. Recent reports have stated that the number of similar lawsuits filed has doubled over the past three months, reaching more than 42,700 nationwide.