Bayer has agreed with plaintiffs’ counsel on a plan the company said is “designed to manage and resolve future Roundup cases,” a key component of settling thousands of claims against the company over exposure to the widely used herbicide.
As part of the class-action settlement agreement being filed in federal court in California today, “the company would be committed to pay up to $2 billion … to support the claims and programs covered by the class plan,” Bayer said. The company announced a multibillion-dollar agreement last year to settle existing and future claims, but the initial proposal on the “futures” class was withdrawn after the federal judge overseeing the litigation expressed skepticism about it.
Compensation over a four-year period includes "up to $200,000 for those with exposure to Roundup and diagnosed with NHL," proposed class counsel said in a news release. "The next of kin of deceased with exposure to Roundup who qualify for benefits may apply for a payment. A $50 million fund will also be established to provide for payments above $200,000 in extraordinary circumstances."
“Today’s settlement provides a legal remedy for those who have been exposed to Roundup and lack the ability to hire a lawyer or access to the basic diagnostic services necessary to know if they have NHL,” said Elizabeth Cabraser, partner at Lieff Cabraser and lead counsel for the potential claimants.
“Many of those exposed to Roundup, especially agricultural workers whose first language may not be English, may be unaware of the issues surrounding Monsanto’s Roundup," she said. "Equity demands similar opportunities for this group of people as it does for the thousands of claimants who have retained counsel and achieved meaningful settlement offers. We are proud to have achieved such a comprehensive settlement for our clients and the thousands of others who will benefit.”
The settlement provides for "compensation, notice, outreach, diagnostic assistance for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), NHL scientific and medical research, and free legal services for a class of all those previously exposed to Monsanto’s Roundup in the United States who have not already filed individual tort suits against Monsanto or retained counsel to do so," the proposed class counsel said.
“The class plan is intended to be one part of a holistic solution designed to provide further closure to the Monsanto Roundup litigation,” Bayer said.
“As we’ve said before, it is not possible to prevent all future litigation in the U.S. legal system, but the agreements and mechanisms we’ve announced are designed to manage and resolve potential future litigation and are important building blocks to provide closure to the Roundup litigation,” Bayer spokesperson Chris Loder said.
“The filing of a motion for preliminary approval today begins the review process by the court. In structuring the plan, the parties have worked diligently to address questions previously raised by the court,” Bayer said.
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“Elements of the revised plan include the establishment of a fund to compensate qualified claimants during an initial four year program, an advisory science panel whose findings would not be preclusive but can be used as evidence in potential future litigation involving class members, and a robust notice program,” the company said.
“The plan also includes research and diagnostic programs that were part of the original class agreement,” Bayer said. “Consistent with recent actions taken by Bayer to provide greater transparency and access to glyphosate studies, the company also will seek permission from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to add a reference link on the labels for its glyphosate-based products that will provide consumers with access to scientific studies and information that the company has permission to disclose or are in the public domain."
On June 24, Bayer and counsel for existing plaintiffs announced a settlement between $8.8 billion and $9.6 billion to address close to 100,000 existing claims that exposure to Roundup caused their Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Another $1.25 billion was set aside to address claims by potential future plaintiffs, which would have included a maximum of $150 million in attorney fees.
Story updated at 2 p.m. to include statement from plaintiff counsel.
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