Settlement of the glyphosate lawsuits in the USA is approaching
by Leo Frühschütz (comments: 0)
The “settlement poker” between the lawyers of the US glyphosate plaintiffs and Monsanto’s parent company Bayer appears to be entering its final round. Another pending trial has been suspended and New York attorney Ken Feinberg, lead moderator of the negotiations, told the Bloomberg agency that a settlement could be reached within a month.
While Feinberg did not give any figures, Bloomberg quoted sources “with direct knowledge of the negotiations”. They spoke of a sum of ten billion US dollars, or around nine billion euros. Of this sum, eight billion dollars are to settle the pending lawsuits and two billion dollars are to be reserved for future lawsuits. Feinberg spoke to Bloomberg of up to 85,000 roundup lawsuits in the US. Bayer rejected this as speculation and emphasized to the German Handelsblatt that the number of lawsuits served was “well below 50,000”. In October 2019, the company had reported 42,7000 lawsuits.
However, not all law firms have yet reached an agreement with Bayer. As the organization US Right To Know reported, the law firm Miller had so far been very reluctant to enter into negotiations, while other lawyers already signed an agreement with the German corporation. US Right To Know quoted Feinberg as saying that Miller was seeking “what he thinks is appropriate compensation” and that it was unclear whether a global settlement could be reached without Miller.
In order not to affect further settlement negotiations, the opening of the next trial was cancelled at a short notice last Friday. The Wade vs. Monsanto case would have been the first lawsuit to be heard by the St. Louis District, where Monsanto is headquartered. The jury had already been appointed and Monsanto had unsuccessfully tried to prevent the trial from being broadcasted by local television and radio stations. The Miller law firm is involved in the trial on the plaintiffs’ side. The consent to the postponement is interpreted as a sign that Miller too might be willing to reach a settlement. The head of the law firm, Michael Miller, told the Handelsblatt newspaper: “The Miller law firm will agree to a settlement if Bayer makes a fair offer”. Miller also mentioned a benchmark for this: “Remember that Bayer rejected our offer to settle at six million before the Johnson trial.” Instead, the group was sentenced to 86 million US dollars and lost considerable market value. The law suit filed by janitor Dewayne Johnson was the first of three lawsuits that Bayer lost in the first instance.
The settlement negotiations are thus entering what may be the final round, and most of the pending court dates have therefore been postponed in recent months. But not all of them: The District Court of Contra Costa in Northern California has been hearing the Caballero vs. Monsanto case last week. The plaintiff is also represented by the law firm Miller. At the end of February, the Stevick vs. Monsanto case is due to be heard in San Francisco. In the following months, several hearings are to begin in St. Louis.
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