Bayer AG is proposing to pay as much as $8 billion to settle more than 18,000 U.S. lawsuits alleging its Roundup herbicide causes cancer, according to people familiar with the negotiations.
An agreement, which could take months to work out, would ease investor pressure over massive litigation exposure the German drug and chemical giant took on with its purchase of the weedkiller’s maker, Monsanto Co. The fallout has erased more than $30 billion in market value, prompted an unprecedented shareholder vote of no confidence in the company’s management and fueled speculation about a breakup.
While Bayer floated paying $6 billion to $8 billion to resolve current and future cases, plaintiffs’ lawyers want more than $10 billion to drop their claims, the people said, asking not to be identified because the talks are private. How to compensate consumers who have yet to be diagnosed with illness is a sticking point, and there’s no guarantee the two sides will come to terms anytime soon, they added.
Reports that a $6 billion to $8 billion settlement proposal has been discussed are “pure fiction,” said Kenneth Feinberg, a mediator called in by U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in San Francisco, who’s overseeing cases consolidated in federal court.
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