The Bayer/Monsanto Roundup story has as many twists and turns as a country road.
Bayer recently settled thousands of Roundup lawsuits as part of an $11 billion settlement, according to published reports. The news came about a month after a golf industry professional claimed the weedkiller caused his cancer and just days before an attorney close to the case was sentenced to two years in prison after being convicted of extortion. It is, after all, 2020.
Close to 200,000 people have or are expected to file suit claiming that glyphosate, the active ingredient in the weedkiller Roundup, caused their non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. At the heart of the glyphosate debate are conflicting reports by the World Health Organization and the EPA. In 2015, the WHO concluded that glyphosate was a "probable" carcinogen. The EPA, on the other hand, has said that there is no evidence indicating that glyphosate causes cancer based on the results of more than 800 tests and studies.
The recent settlements for $10.9 billion include 15,000 lawsuits in which plaintiffs blame Monsanto's weedkiller for causing their non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, according to reports. Bayer, which acquired Monsanto in 2018, already has settled about 30,000 cases and faces as many as an additional 125,000 suits that have yet to be filed, according to reports.
The most recent settlement comes about a month after a golf professional in the Spokane, Washington area filed suit claiming that Roundup caused his cancer. On Aug. 3, Gary Lindeblad filed suit against Bayer and Monsanto, saying it caused his cancer.
According to the lawsuit, Lindeblad "sprayed Roundup on a regular basis" beginning in the 1970s. He was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 1999. He has since incurred "significant economic and non-economic damages," according to the suit.
Lindeblad worked for 31 years at the Indian Canyon Golf Course. Most recently, he has worked at the Kalispel Golf and Country Club.
On Sept. 21, Tim Litzenburg, the Virginia lawyer representing a plaintiff who won a $289 million verdict in the ongoing litigation against Bayer, was sentenced to two years in prison after he was convicted on extortion charges.
Litzenburg was charged in December with extortion after threatening to "to inflict substantial financial and reputational harm" against two unnamed companies unless he was paid a $200 million consulting fee, according to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia.
According to court documents, Litzenburg suggested in October 2019 that the unnamed Company 1 could avoid future costs associated with litigation, reputational damage and a drop in stock prices if it hired him as a consultant for $200 million.
The document said that Litzenburg and an unnamed accomplice would steer prospective litigants away from the Roundup case as part of the deal. According to the complaint, Litzenburg called his $200 million consulting fee "fair" and promised to unleash a public relations "nightmare" against the companies involved.
The criminal complaint stated that Litzenburg also agreed to steer complainants away from Company 2. Those unnamed companies were believed to be Bayer and Monsanto, but a spokesperson for Bayer said last year that was untrue.