Company will not pursue further appeal of the verdict won by a school groundskeeper after a state appeals court reduced it to $20.5 million
EXCERPT: Litigation over Roundup - which plaintiffs claim causes cancer - remains Bayer’s biggest challenge. After losing three trials over the matter in the U.S., the company has been negotiating with tens of thousands of claimants for more than a year and a half, and has still failed to put the litigation behind it.
Bayer won’t ask US Supreme Court to reverse Roundup loss
By Joel Rosenblatt
Bloomberg, 19 March 2021
* Citing strategy, company focuses on second, federal court suit
* Original blockbuster California verdict caused lawsuit frenzy
Bayer AG won’t seek U.S. Supreme Court review of the first verdict finding its Roundup herbicide caused cancer.
The company said Tuesday that the decision not to pursue a further appeal of the verdict won by a school groundskeeper after a state appeals court reduced it to $20.5 million was made after “careful and extensive consideration,” and reflects a legal strategy to end the state court case and instead focus on the second Roundup verdict, in federal court.
“The decision is not based on the merits of this case,” Bayer said in an e-mailed statement, referring to a lawsuit brought by Dewayne Johnson and decided in 2018 by a San Francisco jury. The federal case being reviewed by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals “will serve as a better case for review by the Supreme Court,” Bayer said.
Litigation over Roundup -- which plaintiffs claim causes cancer -- remains Bayer’s biggest challenge. After losing three trials over the matter in the U.S., the company has been negotiating with tens of thousands of claimants for more than a year and a half, and has still failed to put the litigation behind it. Bayer insists the product is safe.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has weighed in on Bayer’s side in the federal appeals court case, in which a jury found Roundup defective because it’s sold without a cancer warning. A lower-court judge cut the verdict from more than $80 million to $25 million but refused to overturn the verdict.
The EPA has said it reviewed and approved the Roundup warning label issued by Monsanto, which Bayer acquired in 2018 for about $63 billion. In the federal case, the agency backed Bayer’s argument that plaintiff Edwin Hardeman’s lawyers ignored the EPA’s authority and instead improperly relied on California law to claim the omission resulted in a flawed label.
In its statement Friday Bayer explained that in Johnson’s case the key issue of “federal preemption” has no bearing on any lawsuit besides his.
Hardeman’s case at the federal appeals court is “a better candidate for Supreme Court review” because the ruling is expected to address “the most significant federal questions at issue in the Roundup litigation, including preemption and the admissibility of expert evidence,” Bayer said.
Johnson was originally awarded $289 million. Bayer later won a ruling from the trial judge cutting it to $78.6 million and then persuaded the appeals court to lop off another $58 million.