Bayer's proposed deal on Wednesday to settle future cancer claims in long-running litigation over its Roundup weedkiller may have an eye-popping $2 billion price tag, but experts say the settlement may still fail to win over a judge who was skeptical of a previous proposal.
This week's settlement follows last year's announcement that Bayer would pay $9.6 billion to settle the bulk of roughly 125,000 current claims that Monsanto's Roundup causes cancer. Bayer owns Monsanto.
The current deal provides up to $200,000 each for those exposed to Roundup and diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and allocates $50 million to a fund for payments above that for "extraordinary" cases.
A science panel will also make nonbinding, but court admissible determinations on whether an individual's non-Hodgkin's lymphoma was caused by Roundup.
Given the panel's function, one element to watch will be whether individuals decide to take their chances in court in hopes of a verdict higher than the settlement offer, said Paul Benson of Michael Best & Friedrich LLP.
While Bayer is betting that most class members will take the offer, the panel's determination on causation would still be a strong leverage point for a higher amount, Benson said.
"If you really want to knock it out of the park and make a huge payday, you can take it to court with you and ask for millions and millions of dollars," Benson said. "I don't know that I've seen a settlement that contemplates that."
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