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U.S. Supreme Court rejects Bayer’s effort to halt Roundup lawsuits

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In a major setback for Bayer, the U.S. Supreme Court today rejected an appeal from the manufacturer of Roundup and left intact a substantial lawsuit award for Edwin Hardeman, who claimed that the herbicide caused his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The decision also leaves Bayer open to several billions of dollars in claims related to the remaining lawsuits that have arising after its takeover of seed pioneer and crop protection company Monsanto in 2018.

There are more than 30,000 outstanding glyphosate-related claims, and Bayer has allocated about $16 billion for their settlements. The company, however, was waiting on the high court’s decision in the Hardeman case to gauge how to proceed.

Hardeman’s lawsuit, which went to court in 2019, was often cited as one of the “bellwether” cases that would help set the tone for thousands of lawsuits related to Roundup. A jury initially awarded $80 million to Hardeman, and about $25 million was at stake during the appeal to the high court. Other major lawsuits involving non-Hodgkin lymphoma and Bayer included those of Dewayne Johnson, Ezra Clark, and Alva and Alberta Pilliod. 

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup and other products, such as Ranger Pro, and it is often targeted by activists speaking out against modern agricultural practices. According to Bloomberg Law, Bayer’s lawyers have long argued that numerous studies have shown Roundup is safe, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has concluded that glyphosate is not a carcinogen.

Independently, nearly all scientific bodies and associated research have affirmed the safety of glyphosate.

According to Bloomberg.com, Bayer last year said a Supreme Court ruling in its favor would “effectively and largely end” Roundup litigation in the U.S. by dissuading future lawsuits. The justices made their decision Tuesday without comment.

Bayer told Reuters that it “respectfully disagrees” with the court’s decision and that the company is “fully prepared to manage the litigation risk associated with potential future claims in the U.S.”

Roundup is the most common weedkiller in the U.S. and often hailed as one of the safest herbicides available. Most of the litigation against Bayer relied more on emotional testimony rather than scientific findings, much to the frustration of many in the agricultural sector.

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