Kenneth Feinberg is still covered. The Washington star lawyer, who acts as a mediator in the legal disputes surrounding the weed killer glyphosate, told the FAZ at the weekend that it was “premature” to speak of an agreement between Bayer and plaintiffs’ lawyers, and described a corresponding report by the “Wall Street Journal” as “ridiculous”. The talks continued. However, he also indicated that the two parties were getting closer and added that he might be able to say more in ten days.
The American newspaper had reported that Bayer had negotiated preliminary terms for an agreement with half a dozen law firms representing several tens of thousands of plaintiffs. The deal could be finally tied down in the coming weeks and is expected to be around $ 10 billion.
That would not come as a surprise, similar figures have been circulating in the past few months and have also been put in the room by analysts. Bayer only announced that it was still in talks and could not comment on any speculation about progress.
There are high claims for damages
Bayer is currently facing 48,600 glyphosate lawsuits in the United States. The drug has belonged to the group since the takeover of the American competitor Monsanto in 2018. The plaintiffs hold it responsible for cancer. Court hearings have occurred in three cases to date, and Bayer has lost them all, which has increased pressure on the Group to seek out-of-court settlement.
In one trial, the plaintiffs were initially even awarded two billion dollars. The amount has now been revised down significantly, as in the other two previous cases, but there is still a combined compensation of $ 191 million from the first three cases alone. Bayer tries to fight the judgments in appeals.
Rethinking the top floor
Bayer CEO Werner Baumann initially resisted comparisons for a long time, but has apparently come to the conclusion that the group cannot end the legal disputes without paying a large sum. And a $ 10 billion settlement would be considered bearable on the financial markets. Some analysts believe that Bayer wants to reach an agreement by the end of April at the Annual General Meeting, whereby Baumann has denied that he has set such a deadline. “If we submitted to a dictation of the deadline, we would not achieve the best result for our company and the shareholders.”
Kenneth Feinberg was appointed arbitrator last May by a San Francisco judge pending a number of glyphosate lawsuits. Since then he has been trying to find a settlement that covers all complaints if possible. This is also in the interest of the Bayer Group, which hopes to reach a comprehensive agreement that will allow the litigation to be resolved. It remains to be seen whether this is possible. In the newspaper report it is said that some law firms are dissatisfied with the previous conditions and complained that the leading law firms were preferred.
Among the six law firms with which Bayer is said to be reaching agreement, are those who won with their plaintiffs in the first three trials. The last process so far ended in May last year. Since then, a number of other legal proceedings have been scheduled, but all of them have been postponed because of the background settlement negotiations.