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US Supreme Court rejects Bayer Roundup case

June 21, 2022

Bayer has suffered a setback in its attempts to limit payouts in Roundup cases. The US Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal from Bayer over a $25 million judgement.

The Bayer sign in Wuppertal
Bayer faces a swathe of lawsuits alleging their product causes cancerImage: Oliver Berg/dpa/picture alliance

The US Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to hear a case from the Bayer-owned Monsanto group that sought to challenge lawsuits over its allegedly cancer-causing weedkiller Roundup.

The rejection is a blow to Bayer's attempts to limit the damage from legal payouts over Roundup. Bayer's lawyers had hoped to shut down thousands of lawsuits over the weedkiller, banking on the conservative majority of the court.

Supreme Court justices left in place a $25 million (roughly €24 million) judgment against Monsanto, brought by a California man who developed cancer after using Roundup over a period of decades.

The lawsuit was a test case for thousands of similar lawsuits.

Containers of Monsanto Roundup weed killer on a garden supply store shelf in New York on Monday, May 23, 2016.
In 2018, Bayer purchased US company Monsanto, producers of Roundup, despite the fact that some lawsuits had already begunImage: picture-alliance/Photoshot

The German company has faced a mixed bag of results in court cases surrounding its weedkiller. It has lost three trials in which claimants were awarded tens of millions of dollars each. But it has also won four similar cases.

And, on Friday, a panel of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to reexamine its 2020 finding that glyphosate — the key ingredient in Roundup — does not pose a serious health risk and is "not likely" to cause cancer.

After the latest ruling, Bayer said 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."

The chemical giant set aside $4.5 billion last year to settle claims against it, having previously spent nearly $10 billion for earlier rounds of litigation.

In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, said glyphosate is ''probably carcinogenic to humans.''

In the coming weeks, the Supreme Court may act upon a second related petition. 

Bayer stocks fell almost 3% on Tuesday following the decision.

aw/msh (AP, Reuters, AFP)