Bayer, owner of agrichemical company Monsanto, says the company is now facing 8,000 lawsuits related to its Roundup product. The spike in lawsuits comes after a $289 million jury award to a school groundskeeper who claimed he was not warned about the potential cancer risks of using Roundup.
It was the first lawsuit over glyphosate-based weedkillers.
“The number of plaintiffs in both state and federal litigation is approximately 8,000 as of end-July. These numbers may rise or fall over time but our view is that the number is not indicative of the merits of the plaintiffs’ cases,” said CEO Werner Baumann in a conference call with analysts.
Prior to the verdict, the company said it was facing 5,200 lawsuits against Monsanto.
One of those cases involves a man from Sioux City, who says he developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after using Roundup for 23 years on his property. The man says he was not aware of the health risks of glyphosate until 2015, when the International Agency for Research on Cancer said the chemical was probably a carcinogen.
Shares of Bayer have fallen 10% since the verdict. Baumann noted that Bayer believes the jury’s verdict was inconsistent with the science-based conclusions of regulators.
Bayer plans to petition the judge to reverse the jury’s verdict. If necessary, the company says it will challenge the ruling with California’s appellate courts. The process, Bayer says, will take at least a year.
Bayer appears to have no desire to settle cases outside of the courtroom.
“We will vigorously defend this case and all upcoming cases,” Bayer said.
Company executives say demand for seeds and glyphosate products have not been affected by the case. Bayer also said it sees no reason to re-assess the legal risks from Monsanto.
“Glyphosate does not cause cancer,” said Scott Partridge, vice president of Monsanto, in a statement. “The verdict is wrong.”