HomeBusinessU.S. Supreme Court again dismisses Bayer's challenge to weedkiller lawsuits

U.S. Supreme Court again dismisses Bayer’s challenge to weedkiller lawsuits

WASHINGTON, June 27 (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected another bid by Bayer AG (BAYGn.DE) to dismiss litigation alleging its weedkiller Roundup causes cancer as the German pharmaceutical and chemical giant is trying to avoid billions of dollars in damages. .

Judges rejected an appeal by Bayer and left in place a lower court ruling upholding an $87 million judgment in a California lawsuit against Alberta and Alva Pilliod, who were diagnosed with cancer after having sprayed Roundup for more than three decades. On June 21, the Supreme Court denied an appeal by Bayer in another Roundup case. Read more

Bayer argued that cancer claims about Roundup and its active ingredient, glyphosate, run counter to sound science and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approval of the product. Bayer’s appeal in the Pilliod case raised an additional challenge, arguing that it would violate the due process protections of the US Constitution to award punitive damages that far outweigh compensatory damages.

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While Bayer had hoped for a Supreme Court ruling that would end the weedkiller lawsuits, the company “continues to fully support its Roundup” and is prepared to defend the product in court, the company spokesperson said. , Phillip Blank.

“The company will only consider resolving outstanding cases and claims if it is strategically advantageous to do so,” Blank said in a statement.

Bayer will seek future opportunities to make its preemption argument before the Supreme Court, and it cited a case currently before the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals as a possible avenue for a future appeal. Read more

Alva and Alberta Pilliod were both diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of lymph cancer, after decades of using Roundup. A California judge in 2020 reduced the $2 billion jury award in the case to $87 million. Last year, California’s highest court ruled against Bayer’s appeal of the $87 million award.

Bayer, which also makes aspirin, birth control pills Yasmin and the stroke-prevention drug Xarelto, among other products, lost three trials in which Roundup users were awarded tens of millions of dollars each, while winning four tries. Bayer pinned its hopes for relief on the conservative-majority Supreme Court, which has a reputation for being pro-business.

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

One of Bayer’s main defenses in the litigation is that the EPA has decided that glyphosate is not carcinogenic and does not pose a risk to public health.

On June 17, a US appeals court ordered the EPA to reconsider whether glyphosate poses unreasonable risks to humans and the environment. The United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, based in San Francisco, agreed with several environmental, agricultural worker and food safety groups that the EPA had failed to sufficiently consider whether the glyphosate caused cancer and threatened endangered species.

The EPA is expected to conclude this new safety review of glyphosate by October 1.

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 of 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 plans to replace glyphosate in weed killers for the US residential market for home gardeners. But it will continue to sell glyphosate-based weed killers to farmers, who rely heavily on it and who Bayer says have a negligible role in the litigation.

The appeal dismissed by judges on June 21 involved $25 million in damages awarded in a separate lawsuit to California resident Edwin Hardeman, a Roundup user who blamed his cancer on weedkillers.

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Reporting by Dietrich Knauth and Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Duham

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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