In a defining verdict on November 19th, a Missouri court found Bayer AG’s Monsanto division culpable for health harms tied to its Roundup herbicide, mandating a colossal $1.56 billion in reparations to four claimants. This judgment represents Bayer’s fourth consecutive legal defeat regarding Roundup, escalating its challenges with around 165,000 injury lawsuits connected to this contentious product.
The case revolved around allegations by the plaintiffs that their exposure to Roundup, a herbicide primarily based on glyphosate, resulted in developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The jury ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, allocating $61.1 million in compensatory damages and a staggering $500 million each in punitive damages to three of the plaintiffs, with the fourth receiving $100,000 related to her spouse’s illness.
Despite the mounting legal woes, Bayer maintains Roundup’s safety, citing numerous studies that purportedly show no human risks from glyphosate. Yet, the company confronts increasing skepticism as lawsuit numbers soar. Bayer plans to appeal, arguing misrepresentations in glyphosate’s EU renewal and conflicting assessments from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Compounding the debate, the EU Commission recently extended glyphosate’s authorization, igniting further disputes given Bayer’s legal predicaments.
Bayer’s 2018 acquisition of Monsanto brought the Roundup issues to its doorstep. In an attempt to mitigate these challenges, Bayer agreed in 2020 to a settlement potentially reaching $10.9 billion, yet about 50,000 cases remain unresolved. This latest court setback triggered Bayer’s most significant market value plunge to date, a loss of approximately €7.6 billion ($8.3 billion). The company now confronts intensified shareholder pressure to rapidly settle these lingering legal battles.