Bayer is facing more than 10,000 lawsuits relating to their Roundup weed killer. U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria, the judge who provided over the first two cases against Bayer, revealed in a filing that Bayer and Elaine Stevick, a plaintiff in another case, have been ordered to go into confidential mediation.
The May 20 trial date for the case has been canceled. The filing recommends that parties propose a mediator. If the parties cannot agree on a mediator, the Court will appoint one. Bayer said on Friday that the company will comply with the order in good faith. Bayer still claims that their Roundup product is safe and that the company stands behind the science supporting the product’s safety.
A verdict against Bayer went in favor of the plaintiff. The judge awarded the plaintiff $80 million.
Chhabria states that resources spent on the trial would be better spent on multidistrict litigation. Chhabria will be in charge of determining which cases will be dismissed and which will be sent back to the state courts.
Mediation is not uncommon in lawsuits, and it doesn’t mean that Bayer will come to a settlement anytime soon with Stevick.
Mediation is a benefit for Bayer, which will be able to dodge headlines of hefty awards. Bayer’s stock price will be able to stabilize since mediation is done in confidentiality and doesn’t require settlement amounts to be released to the public.
Bayer plans to appeal the two cases that they lost.
The company plans to defend their glyphosate-based products in court. Mediation efforts will be discussed with Chhabria on May 22. Chhabria will set a new date for the cancelled trial as necessary.
Lawyers representing the plaintiff claim that it would be “prudent and responsible” for Bayer to settle the litigation. Shareholder pressure and risks of their Roundup product may force the company to settle.