The US Supreme Court will soon decide whether to hear Bayer’s weed killer case

Bayers Roundup goes on sale on June 26, 2017 in Encinitas, California, United States. REUTERS/Mike Blake

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  • The Biden administration asked the court not to hear the case
  • Lawsuits have been chasing Bayer for years, costing billions of dollars
  • Bayer wants to “leave the uncertainty behind”

WASHINGTON/FRANKFURT, June 10 (Reuters) – The US Supreme Court could announce as early as Monday whether it will hear Bayer’s (BAYGn.DE) motion to dismiss claims that its weed killer Roundup causes cancer because the company trying to avoid potentially billions more dollars in damages and payouts.

Bayer is seeking review of an appeals court decision upholding $25 million in damages awarded to California resident Edwin Hardeman, a user of the glyphosate-based weed killer Roundup, who blamed the product for his cancer made.

How the court proceeds will help determine whether thousands of similar cases continue.

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The nine judges were scheduled to discuss whether to hear the case at their private conference on Thursday, the court filing said. The court will announce action on pending appeals Monday morning, although sometimes a case will be stayed for a variety of reasons, even if judges are inclined to hear it.

Bayer has asked the Supreme Court to rule that the Environmental Protection Agency’s state approval of Roundup’s product label means that the lawsuit could not be brought under California state law.

The court’s decision will come after Democratic President Joe Biden’s administration last month asked judges to dismiss the petition, reversing the position of Republican former President Donald Trump’s administration, which had broadly supported Bayer. Continue reading

The company’s shares fell more than 6% on the day but have since recovered, although Bayer is bracing for up to $4.5 billion in additional litigation costs from the other lawsuits if the court dismisses them .

She accordingly set aside money last year, having already paid out a large chunk of the $11.6 billion previously set aside for settlements and litigation on the matter.

The Supreme Court is not required to follow U.S. government advice, but usually does, with the federal Supreme Court’s chief attorney, the Attorney General, being referred to as the “tenth justice” for this reason.

Credit Suisse analysts on Thursday said they see a slim chance the case will go to trial, noting along with the Biden administration’s stance that the U.S. highest court is accepting less than 1% of the cases filed.

Bayer has lost three attempts, each earning Roundup users tens of millions of dollars, but has also won three. It announced the latest win in Missouri on Friday. It said earlier this year it had solved 107,000 cases out of about 138,000 in total.

Bayer, which also makes aspirin, Yasmin birth control pills and stroke-prevention drug Xarelto, has argued that the cancer claims violate solid science and repeated product approvals by regulators in the United States and elsewhere around the world.

It has said it should not be penalized for marketing a product that the US EPA would not allow a cancer warning to be printed on it.

MONSANTO PURCHASE

Roundups-related lawsuits have dogged Bayer since it acquired the brand as part of its $63 billion purchase of agricultural seed and pesticide maker Monsanto in 2018.

Bayer entered into a settlement agreement in principle with the plaintiffs in June 2020, but has not received court approval for a separate agreement to deal with future cases.

The company has said it is preparing to “move on and move beyond uncertainty” even if ignored by the Supreme Court, and has taken steps to contain the risk of further litigation.

She plans to offer cancer patients who are considering suing Bayer in the future the opportunity to participate in a program that will make payments to plaintiffs who meet certain criteria and who waive legal representation, using the funds she provides.

To ward off further lawsuits, Bayer plans to replace glyphosate with other active ingredients in weed killers for home gardeners in the United States.

Another Bayer case is pending in U.S. Supreme Court after the company filed in March to overturn a California Circuit Court of Appeals decision last year upholding an $86 million judgment finding Bayer guilty of a couple’s cancer held responsible. Continue reading

In this case, Bayer also raises a new legal question about punitive damages, which it says are excessive and unjustified because it acted in accordance with federal regulations.

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Reporting by Ludwig Burger in Frankfurt and Lawrence Hurley in Washington; Edited by Josephine Mason and Kirsten Donovan

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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