A US judge has declined to grant preliminary approval for a settlement against Bayer over claims that their Roundup weedkiller causes cancer, reports Jurist.
Research first published by a cancer-focused working group formed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2015 claimed that glyphosate was ‘probably carcinogenic to humans’. Although conflicting studies have since been released, including a 10-year-long course of research by the US Environmental Protection Agency, former Roundup producer Monsanto faced an onslaught of lawsuits.
Bayer bought Monsanto in 2018, right before the first verdict came down in favour of a man alleging his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was caused by the weedkiller. There have been three similar trials since then, which have resulted in multi-million dollar damage awards for plaintiffs.
In light of these losses, Bayer arranged a class action settlement to prevent future litigation. They sought preliminary approval of the proposed settlement at issue in last week’s decision. The rejected proposal would have allowed class members to opt-out and sue separately, but they would lose the right to claim punitive damages and would be required to include the opinion of a seven-member science panel on whether Roundup causes cancer.
The rejected settlement would have also created a fund shared between Roundup users who had already been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and those who had not yet seen signs of the disease.
San Fransisco District Court Judge Vince Chhabria said the proposed arrangement was clearly unreasonable for class members who did not currently have cancer. He drew attention to the disproportionate benefit to Monsanto and Bayer at the disadvantage of consumers.