(Bloomberg) — Bayer AG’s proposal to pay as much as $2 billion to resolve future claims that its Roundup weed killer causes cancer was rejected by a U.S. judge, further compounding its struggle to wrap up litigation inherited from the acquisition of Monsanto Co.
U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria on Wednesday turned aside the complicated agreement in a brief order that addresses what he called only “the most glaring flaws” of the deal — the second time he’s shot it down. The rejected settlement is part of a broader $11.6 billion agreement to resolve Roundup lawsuits in the U.S. from about 125,000 consumers and farmers.
Chhabria said the settlement covering future claims is “clearly unreasonable” for consumers who are exposed to Roundup but aren’t yet diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma — and may not be for a decade or longer.
Provisions in the settlement “greatly exaggerate” the potential benefits of four years of “vaguely described medical monitoring” for those who have not yet contracted the cancer, Chhabria said. Benefits of a compensation fund are “also vastly overstated” for that group, he ruled.
Elizabeth Cabraser, a lawyer representing consumers in the rejected accord, said she was disappointed by the ruling but continues to believe a multi-billion-dollar class settlement is attainable. She said a deal would include, among other benefits, diagnostic assistance, compensation, free legal services, research into NHL treatment, and “Roundup label reform” to inform consumers about the science behind the link between Roundup and NHL.
Bayer said it will implement a series of actions to mitigate its future risk from the claims. The steps include continuing legal appeals, reassessing settlement efforts, creating a website addressing Roundup’s safety concerns and evaluating the future of glyphosate-based products in the U.S. residential market.
Numerous consumers objected to the settlement on a variety of grounds, saying that revisions to the earlier, rejected proposal aren’t good enough. Last year, Chhabria rejected a $1.25 billion proposal for future claims.
The Roundup case is In Re Roundup Products Liability Litigation, 16-md-02741, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).