Bayer says the number of US lawsuits brought against newly acquired Monsanto has risen to about 8,000 from 5,200 previously after the company was told to pay damages for not warning of alleged cancer risks of 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,” chief executive Werner Baumann told analysts in a conference call.
Bayer shares have lost more than 10% and stripped off about €10bn in market value since Monsanto was ordered on August 10 to pay $289m (€249m) in damages in the first of possibly thousands of US lawsuits over glyphosate-based weedkillers such as Roundup and Ranger Pro.
He said the jury’s verdict was inconsistent with the science-based conclusions of regulators and said that demand for glyphosate-based products remained strong. When asked if Bayer would consider settling cases out of court, he said: “We will vigorously defend this case and all upcoming cases.”
Second-quarter results, due on September 5, would include provisioning for legal defence costs but no money would at that point be set aside for any possible future damages, said finance chief Wolfgang Nickl.
Earlier this month, the California Supreme Court declined to hear arguments by Monsanto as to why Roundup doesn’t belong on the state’s list of chemicals known to cause cancer.