Bayer’s Roundup Settlement Hits a Snag After Judge Expresses Concerns

Bayer AG agreed to a withdrawal of settlement proposals on Wednesday in a case accounting for multiple Roundup lawsuits after concerns were noted by the judge. Bayer says it is still committed to a resolution, but willing to adjust the settlement.

“The withdrawal will enable the parties to more comprehensively address the questions recently raised by the Federal District Court Judge Vince Chhabria of the Northern District of California who presides over the federal Roundup litigation,” Bayer said in a statement to AgWeb.

Judge Vince Chhabria denied granting preliminary approval to a settlement in the case on Monday. The Judge said the settlement, which would resolve future claims, may not be constitutional or lawful and that the court is “skeptical” the settlement may not be fair.

“In an area where the science may be evolving, how could it be appropriate to lock in a decision from a panel of scientists for all future cases?” the Judge stated in an order. He said giving preliminary approval would not give class members time to consider if they should join the class, which includes various parties including businesses and individuals. He said delaying the hearing “could be contrary to everyone’s interest” because of the court’s skepticism.

The judge said he has received requests to push the hearing back. “The opponents contend that because the settlement is complex, novel, and problematic in many respects, they need more time to analyze it and file comprehensive opposition briefs. For similar reasons, they contend the Court should take more time to consider the settlement before holding a hearing on preliminary approval,” Judge Chhabria’s order stated.

This decision caused a delay in Bayer’s attempts to resolve Roundup complaints. Bayer announced a $10 billion settlement for Roundup claims in late June, along with settlements for other legislation Bayer inherited when it bought Monsanto. The settlement addressed current complaints and future litigation, along with money to research possible harmful effects of Roundup. Bayer claimed in a press release on Wednesday that it is still working towards the settlement despite the comments from the Judge.

“Bayer remains strongly committed to a resolution that simultaneously addresses both the current litigation on reasonable terms and a viable solution to manage and resolve potential future litigation. Mass tort settlement agreements like this are complex and may require some adjustments along the way, but the company continues to believe that a settlement on appropriate terms is in the best interest of Bayer and all of its stakeholders,” the release states.