Bayer will pay more than $10 billion to resolve thousands of lawsuits regarding claims that its herbicide Roundup causes cancer, the company announced Wednesday.
Monsanto, which Bayer bought in 2018, lost a lawsuit that same year brought by a school groundskeeper who claimed its weedkiller had caused his non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Since then, thousands of U.S. lawsuits have been filed against the company.
Bayer CEO Werner Baumann called the decision to settle the lawsuits the right one in order to end a long period of uncertainty.
“The decision to resolve the Roundup litigation enables us to focus fully on the critical supply of health care and food,” he said in statement. “It will also return the conversation about the safety and utility of glyphosate-based herbicides to the scientific and regulatory arena and to the full body of science.”
The settlement, however, does not contain any admission of wrongdoing or liability.
Bayer will pay $8.8 billion to $9.6 billion to settle existing lawsuits and then another $1.25 billion that will cover any potential litigation in the future, the company said in a press release Wednesday.
Kenneth Feinberg, a court-appointed mediator for the settlement, called the deal a "constructive and reasonable" resolution.
"The significant progress made to date — which exceeds the initial participation rates of other claims resolution proceedings — provides a robust framework that will enable the parties to bring closure to the current Roundup litigation in due course," he said in the statement from Bayer.
Lawsuits allege that Monsanto ignored warnings that its herbicide contained potentially cancer-causing chemicals, then concealed the threat to consumers.
A jury awarded the California groundskeeper, Dewayne Johnson, nearly $290 million in damages in August 2018 after it found Monsanto failed to warn Johnson and other consumers about the risks posed by its weed-killing products. A judge upheld the decision upon appeal, but lowered the damages to $78 million due to what she considered an overreach in punitive damages decided by the jury.
And last year, a California jury awarded a husband and wife more than $2 billion in damages in a suit that claimed Roundup caused their illness. Those damages were also reduced by a judge to $87 million instead.
German pharmaceuticals and chemical giant Bayer bought Monsanto in 2018 just months before Johnson won his suit against the company. Bayer eliminated the Monsanto name, but maintained the brands and folded them into its portfolio.