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Judge rejects Bayer's deal to resolve future Roundup lawsuits


(Reuters) — A federal judge rejected Bayer’s $2 billion class-action proposal to resolve future lawsuits alleging its Roundup weedkiller causes cancer, saying in a Wednesday order that parts of the plan were “clearly unreasonable.”

U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria in San Francisco said the proposal “would accomplish a lot for Monsanto,” which Bayer acquired for $63 billion in 2018, and “would accomplish far less for the Roundup users” who are currently healthy.

The agreement would have paused litigation linking Roundup to non-Hodgkin lymphoma for four years and would have barred Roundup users from seeking punitive damages once the pause on litigation expired.

In return, users could be eligible for free medical exams and compensation if they were diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

The proposed class action settlement was aimed at claims by people who have been exposed to the weedkiller and who become sick in the future.

Bayer has committed up to $9.6 billion to resolve some 125,000 existing cancer claims.

The company has said that decades of studies have shown that Roundup and its main active ingredient, glyphosate, are safe for human use. Bayer did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the judge's decision.

Bayer has been criticized by consumer advocates for fighting efforts to add a warning label to Roundup or pull it from the herbicide market, which it dominates along with other glyphosate products.

Judge Chhabria had outlined his doubts about the proposed settlement in a hearing last week.

Bayer has called the proposal one of the “building blocks” to “provide closure” on the Roundup litigation.

The plan would have grouped potentially millions of residential users and farm laborers in a class and provided them free medical exams for four years and up to $200,000 if they were diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Judge Chhabria's six-page order cast doubt on the value of the medical exam offer, given the 10-year to 15-year lag time between exposure and the potential onset of cancer symptoms.

He also said most claimants could expect $60,000 or less in compensation and that compensation might not be available after the four-year plan expired.