The Supreme Court of the United States on Tuesday made final a conviction of the German group Bayer, owner of Monsanto, in a case related to its weedkiller Roundup. A decision which, according to the lawyer of thousands of other plaintiffs, “opens a clear way” before the courts for the victims of cancer. The Supreme Court of the United States refused Tuesday, June 21 to grant a request from the German group Bayer, owner of Monsanto, in a case related to its weedkiller Roundup, opening the door to compensation of several billion dollars.
By not taking up the case, the high court made final a previous court decision condemning the group to pay 25 million dollars to a pensioner, Edwin Hardeman, who attributes his cancer to the glyphosate-based weedkiller.
As usual, the Supreme Court did not justify its decision. But the latter risks having serious consequences for the German group, which is already facing more than 31,000 complaints in addition to those for which it has already reached an agreement – a figure which could climb.
The company had already set aside 6.5 billion dollars to deal with these new procedures (2 billion initially then an additional 4.5 billion after the rejection of a previous agreement). It could be required to pay more depending on the handling of complaints.
A “wave of business” in the coming months
The Supreme Court decision “opens a clear path” in court for cancer victims, says attorney Matt Stubbs. His firm represents thousands of Roundup-related plaintiffs and a “surge of cases” are set to go to trial “in the coming months”, he says.
Bayer shares fell 2.05% on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.
“Bayer respectfully disagrees with the Supreme Court’s decision” but “is fully prepared to face the legal risk associated with potential future complaints in the United States,” the group responded in a statement. The company says “admit no wrong or liability” and “continue to support its Roundup products, a valuable tool for efficient agricultural production around the world.”
Edwin Hardeman, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2015, was one of the first to take Monsanto to court, blaming his cancer on the herbicide he had used on his large property for 25 years. He accused the Monsanto Group of misleading users by claiming the glyphosate product was harmless and failing to display warnings on its labels.
Bayer was ordered in 2019 to pay him $25 million in damages, a decision upheld on appeal in 2021. The company then turned to the Supreme Court of the United States, highlighting the fact that the he Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) believes that glyphosate does not present a health hazard and therefore does not warrant a special cancer warning.
A California-based appeals court last week ordered the EPA to reconsider that finding.
Glyphosate, the main active substance in Roundup, is classified as a “probable carcinogen” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the World Health Organization (WHO). But Monsanto has always insisted that no study has concluded that glyphosate and Roundup, which were marketed in the 1970s, are dangerous.