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US Supreme Court rejects Bayer’s bid to block Roundup’s weed killer lawsuits – Business and Tech News – Report by AFR

The US Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected an appeal by Bayer company Monsanto aimed at contesting thousands of lawsuits alleging its weed killer Roundup causes cancer – a potentially costly decision.

The Supreme Court did not explain its decision not to take the case, leaving intact a $25 million judgment in favor of a California man who claimed he developed cancer after years of using the chemical.

The decision marks a serious blow to the German conglomerate’s legal battle against around 31,000 Roundup-related cases.

“Bayer respectfully disagrees with the Supreme Court’s decision,” the company said in a statement.

“The company believes the decision undermines the ability of companies to rely on official action by competent regulators,” it added, citing a 2020 federal finding that Roundup’s compound was not hazardous.

The plaintiffs’ lawyers welcomed the judges’ decision as it provided a clear path for people to seek compensation in these cases.

Matthew Stubbs said his law firm Duncan Stubbs “continues to represent thousands of Roundup plaintiffs, with a wave of cases coming to trial in the coming months, and more behind them as Bayer chooses to delay.”

Bayer has been plagued by troubles since it bought Roundup-owner Monsanto for $63 billion in 2018 and inherited its legal troubles with the chemical’s ingredient, glyphosate.

The German company says it has committed no wrongdoing and claims scientific studies and regulatory approvals show glyphosate is safe.

Nevertheless, glyphosate is classified as “probably carcinogenic” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer at the World Health Organization (WHO).

However, the United States Environmental Protection Agency says on its website, “There are no worrisome risks to human health when glyphosate is used in accordance with its current labeling.”

A California-based appeals court last week ordered the EPA to reconsider that finding.

– billions at stake –

The Supreme Court’s decision not to intervene upholds a ruling in the lawsuit filed by Edwin Hardeman, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2015.

In addition to the approximately 31,000 complaints about alleged health problems against the weed killer, Bayer shareholders have also taken legal action.

Investors are seeking 2.2 billion euros ($2.5 billion) in damages in a German court for losses incurred after Monsanto’s troubled takeover, their lawyers said in January.

Investors accuse Bayer of “misleading the capital markets about the economic risks of pending consumer lawsuits in the United States related to glyphosate and the herbicide Roundup,” Tilp said in a statement.

According to Tilp, around 320 investors have filed complaints, most of them institutional investors such as banks, asset managers, insurance companies and pension funds.

In the United States, Bayer signed a $10 billion settlement with the plaintiffs in June 2020, with the parties agreeing to add $2 billion to settle future claims, but that part of the agreement was rejected by a California judge .

In a bid to end all proceedings, the firm put forward a five-point plan in the summer of 2021, saying that if the Hardeman case were defeated in the Supreme Court, it would begin discussions of the claims that didn’t included in the 2020 agreement.

Bayer said it will transition its glyphosate-based products in the U.S. home appliance market to new formulations with alternative active ingredients beginning in 2023.

“The company is taking this action solely to manage the risk of litigation in the United States and not because of security concerns,” the company said in a statement.

Bayer says it has resolved around 107,000 cases out of a total of 138,000 related to the herbicide.

Bayer shares closed down around two percent after the court decision on Tuesday.

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