Letters Claiming Bayer Has Delayed Roundup Settlements Made Public By CA Court

Judge Vince Chhabria of the Northern District of California filed an order on Tuesday releasing two letters about stipulations from the lawyers representing some plaintiffs in the consolidated case claiming that Monsanto, and its parent company Bayer, are at fault for illnesses caused by use of the herbicide Roundup. 

The judge said the letters were released because “the parties have not submitted proposed redactions.” The letters, both sent by Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman PC and Moore Law Group PLLC on August 20, are now available in the public docket for the case. They discuss delays in settlement, reportedly caused by the defendant. 

The letter from Moore Law Group said that because the litigation is in a “sensitive moment” and that “public disclosure of the contents of this letter could jeopardize the settlement between Bayer/Monsanto and Moore Law Group.” The letter was sent to the judge, along with the plaintiffs’ co-leads, and a court mediator. 

The Moore Law Group said they began negotiating with Bayer on behalf of their clients, who reportedly developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after exposure to Roundup at least one year ago and “spent the last year engaged in negotiations with Bayer to settle thousands of Roundup claims on behalf of multiple law firms from across the country.” The counsel said that although Bayer announced a settlement in June, which included Moore Law Group’s cases, the company had failed to execute a master settlement agreement (MSA). The letter said Bayer assured the firm before the announcement that the MSA would be finalized soon, and the firm notified its clients, but were later told that the board had “put a ‘pause’ on all settlements and (the) deal would need to be ‘reapproved.’” 

Moore Law Group did say that the MSA was finalized on August 3, 2020, but “outside counsel” asked for some minor edits. Bayer and Monsanto had reportedly refused to countersign the MSA which was sent to them on August 7, 2020, until after the letter was sent later in August. The firm said that Bayer and Monsanto have requested 23 extensions, but that they expired on August 19, an additional extension was being negotiated when the letter was sent. 

The other letter made similar claims. It alleged that the defendant had not been “sufficiently candid about the nature and scope of the settlements.” Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman reportedly had been discussing a settlement with Monsanto since May 2019, when the firm stopped seeking a global settlement in favor of Monsanto’s desire to work with firms. 

When Monsanto released that they were giving $10 billion to settle roundup claims, Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman was reportedly still in the process of finalizing the MSA, but the terms had already been agreed with. The letter said after the firm “expressed concern to Monsanto about announcing a settlement before having a fully executed MSA, Monsanto assured that the deal was done, that the Bayer board of directors had approved the deal, and it was only a matter of ironing out the final details.” Because of these assurances, the firm also reached out to tell its clients the settlement had been reached, but learned after a Pretrial Order in the case and the withdrawal of the proposed class action settlement, that Monsanto said it could not execute the MSA and needed board approval. The deal was reportedly terminated on August 19, before the letter was sent. The firm said it planned to “restart litigation in earnest” and file motions to seek relief.