US Supreme Court rejects Bayer proposal to veto Roundup herbicide lawsuits

WASHINGTON, June 21 (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected an offer by Bayer AG (BAYGn.DE) to reject legal claims from customers who claim its Roundup herbicide causes cancer, as the German company seeks to prevent potentially billions of dollars in damage.

Judges rejected a Bayer appeal and left in place a lower court decision that upheld $25 million in damages awarded to California resident Edwin Hardeman, a Roundup user who blamed his cancer on the giant’s glyphosate-based herbicides. pharmaceutical and chemistry.

The Supreme Court’s action dealt Bayer a blow as the company maneuvers to limit its legal liability in thousands of cases. The judges have a second Bayer petition pending on a related issue they can act on in the coming weeks.

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Bayer shares fell 2.9% on the news, wiping out gains in the previous two trading sessions.

In May, the administration of US President Joe Biden asked the court not to hear Bayer’s appeal, reversing the administration’s position previously taken by former President Donald Trump.

Bayer lost three tests in which Roundup users received tens of millions of dollars each, in addition to winning four tests. Bayer has pinned hopes for relief on the conservative-majority Supreme Court, which has a reputation for being pro-business.

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 US claims.”

On Friday, a federal appeals court ordered the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to review whether the active ingredient glyphosate poses unreasonable risks to humans and the environment.

The San Francisco-based US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with several environmental, farm worker and food safety advocacy groups that the EPA had not adequately considered whether glyphosate causes cancer and threatens endangered species. see More information

Bayer has asked the Supreme Court to review the verdict in Hardeman’s case, which was upheld by the 9th Circuit in May 2021. Hardeman used Roundup regularly for 26 years in his Northern California home before he was diagnosed with a form of lymphoma. non-Hodgkin.

Bayer said in its March annual report that it had resolved around 107,000 cases out of around 138,000 cases in total.

Bayer, which also makes aspirin, birth control pills Yasmin and the stroke-prevention drug Xarelto, among other products, has argued that the cancer claims about Roundup and glyphosate go against solid science and EPA product clearance.

The agency has maintained guidance that glyphosate is not carcinogenic and poses no public health risk when used as directed on the label.

Bayer said it should not be penalized for marketing a product deemed safe by the EPA and on which the agency would not allow a cancer warning to be printed.

The lawsuits against Bayer said the company should have warned customers about the alleged cancer risk.

Roundup-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 struck a settlement in principle with the plaintiffs in June 2020, but failed to get court approval for a separate agreement on how to handle future cases.

In July 2021, Bayer accepted an additional provision of $4.5 billion in the event of an unfavorable decision by the Supreme Court or if the judges refused to consider its appeal.

The provision came in addition to the $11.6 billion it had previously set aside for settlements and litigation over the matter.

Bayer plans to replace glyphosate in herbicides for the US residential market for non-professional gardeners with other active ingredients.

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Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Additional reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Will Dunham

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Lawrence Hurley

Thomson Reuters

Washington reporter covering legal affairs with a focus on the U.S. Supreme Court, Pulitzer Prize-winning team project on how the defense of qualified immunity protects police officers accused of excessive force.

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