A California shareholder of Bayer AG on Friday filed a lawsuit against the companies’ top executives claiming they breached their duty of “prudence” and “loyalty” to the company and investors by buying Monsanto Co. in 2018, an acquisition the suit claims has “inflicted billions of dollars of damages” on the company. Plaintiff Rebecca R. Haussmann, trustee of the Konstantin S. Haussmann Trust, is the sole named plaintiff in the suit, which was filed in New York County Supreme Court. The named defendants include Bayer CEO Werner Baumann, who orchestrated the $63 billion Monsanto purchase, and Bayer Chairman Werner Wenning, who announced last month he was stepping down from the company earlier than planned. The suit claims that Wenning’s decision came after Bayer improperly obtained a copy of the then-draft shareholder lawsuit “through corporate espionage.” The lawsuit also claims that Bayer’s recent announcement of an audit of its acquisition actions is “bogus” and “part of the ongoing cover-up and intended to create a legal barrier to this case to protect Defendants from their accountability…”
There are currently more than 42,000 people suing Monsanto in the United States, alleging that Monsanto’s herbicides cause non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The lawsuits additionally allege that the company was well aware of the dangers but did nothing to warn consumers, working instead to manipulate the scientific record. Many lawyers are involved in more than one of the cases, and all have overlapping expert witnesses, setting up organizational and resource challenges for both sides. Multiple trials that had been set for this fall were delayed until next year. In the meantime, both sides of the litigation are keeping an eye on the California Appellate Court, where lawyers for plaintiff Dewayne “Lee” Johnson and lawyers for Monsanto are awaiting a date for oral arguments in their cross appeals. Monsanto is seeking to overturn the unanimous jury decision handed down against the company in August 2018. The trial judge in that case lowered the jury award from $289 million to $78 million and Johnson is appealing for the reinstatement of the full $289 million. Johnson was the first to go to trial against Monsanto and his victory sent share prices in Bayer plummeting just two months after Bayer closed the purchase of Monsanto in June 2018. Johnson was granted “trial preference” due to predictions by his doctors that he did not have long to live. Johnson has outlived those predictions, though his health continues to decline. As the litigation drags on, several plaintiffs have died or are nearing death, or have suffered such extreme health problems that their ability to undergo the rigors of depositions and trials has become limited. In some cases, family members are being substituted as plaintiffs for deceased loved ones. In legal parlance, the notices to the courts are titled “Suggestion of Death.”
Monsanto is making the news these days for losing. They have lost three court cases in which Roundup has been linked to cancer. In India, they are losing, too. After years of pushing a strain of Bt Cotton, Indian farmers have had enough and are switching back to native seeds for the cotton industry. It’s been a hard road for cotton farmers in India dealing with Monsanto. To begin with, Monsanto illegally began open field trials of its GMO Bt cotton in 1997 and announced it would begin selling seeds the following year. In turn, the Indian Supreme Court would not allow the biotech giant to sell seeds until 2002. Since then, over 300,000 Indian farmers have committed suicide. It is believed that many of these suicides were linked to major debts incurred by the systematic control of Monsanto and Bt cotton. Expensive seeds and the pesticides needed can only be bought from Monsanto. The agricultural ministry of India stated, “Cotton farmers are in a deep crisis since shifting to Bt cotton. The spate of farmer suicides in 2011-12 has been particularly severe among Bt cotton farmers.” Monsanto’s Bt cotton seeds have been dubbed “Seeds of Suicide” by residents in India. And now, India is waking up and ready to fight back. The Indian government has begun to promote the use of native varieties of cotton, seeds more specific to each area. In the time that farmers have begun switching back to indigenous seeds, Monsanto has seen a loss of $75 million.
New Monsanto Papers Reveal that Congress Relied Upon ‘Ghostwriting’ Documents Used by Regulators for Years
The U.S. law firm of Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman added 100+ new documents to the Monsanto Papers on Thursday. The new Monsanto Papers documents are available for review via the Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman website. Prior to, during, and after the first three Monsanto Roundup trials, Baum Hedlund worked to declassify and publish internal Monsanto documents pursuant to the protective orders entered in the cases. The latest batch of Monsanto Papers documents were de-designated on March 1 and July 22. Among other things, the Monsanto Papers show: Monsanto purposefully ghostwrote articles that regulators have been relying on for years. Monsanto orchestrated attacks against the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and its members for concluding glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen. Monsanto hid its own consultant’s conclusions that Roundup causes DNA damage. Monsanto hid data showing Roundup penetrates skin at greater rates than reported to regulators. Monsanto influenced EPA officials to arrive at pro-Roundup conclusions.
A 12-year-old boy suffering from cancer is among the newest plaintiffs taking on Monsanto and its German owner Bayer AG in growing litigation over the safety of Roundup herbicides and Monsanto’s handling of scientific concerns about the products. Lawyers for Jake Bellah were in court Monday in Lake County Superior Court in Lakeport, California arguing that Bellah’s young age and diagnosis of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) qualified him for “trial preference,” or a speedy trial. Lawyers representing Bellah said the child was exposed to Monsanto’s glyphosate-based herbicide products repeatedly over many years as he played in his family’s yard and around their garden area where his father frequently sprayed the chemicals. Bellah developed B-cell lymphoma and has been hospitalized and treated with chemotherapy and is currently in remission, according to Pedram Esfandiary, one of the family’s attorneys.
We’ve been reporting for years on the negative health effects of glyphosate, the active ingredient in the Roundup herbicide. While world bodies like the World Health Organization say that glyphosate is a “probable carcinogen,” the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maintains that glyphosate is safe. Let’s not forget, though, that cronyism mars the EPA decision: unsealed court documents showed that a top EPA official (Jess Rowland) promised Monsanto he would quash efforts by the Department of Health to conduct its own review of glyphosate. So much for the federal government protecting the interests of people rather than special interests. There are now 13,400 cases pending that allege Roundup causes cancer. We hope these legal developments accomplish what government regulators were unable (or unwilling) to do: get glyphosate off the market for good.
After less than two full days of deliberations, a California jury ordered Monsanto to pay just over $2 billion in punitive and compensatory damages to a married couple who both developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma they say was caused by their many years of using Roundup products. After listening to 17 days of trial testimony, jurors said Monsanto must pay $1 billion to Alberta Pilliod, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma brain cancer in 2015, and another $1 billion to her husband Alva Pilliod, who was diagnosed in 2011 with non-Hodgkin lymphoma that spread from his bones to his pelvis and spine. The couple, who are both in their 70s, started using Roundup in the 1970s and continued using the herbicide until only a few years ago. The jury also awarded the couple a total of $55 million in damages for past and future medical bills and other losses. In ordering punitive damages, the jury had to find that Monsanto “engaged in conduct with malice, oppression or fraud committed by one or more officers, directors or managing agents of Monsanto” who were acting on behalf of the company. Pilliod v. Monsanto is the third Roundup cancer case to go to trial. And it is the third to conclude that Monsanto’s glyphosate-based herbicides can cause cancer and that Monsanto has long known about – and covered up – the risks.
Monsanto Not Only Problem Facing Bayer: Investors Question Ethics in Selling Banned Pesticides in Brazil
Bayer CEO Werner Baumann recently lost a crucial confidence vote as investors questioned his handling of the $63 billion Monsanto deal and the wave of US lawsuits that followed. In what Bloomberg called "a stunning development for the German drugs and chemicals company", about 55 percent of shareholders voted against absolving Baumann and other managers of responsibility for their actions in the takeover last year. The vote threw Baumann's future into question and prompted an immediate supervisory board session. While much of the investor unrest undoubtedly focuses on financial liability, strong concerns are being raised about Bayer's ethics. At Bayer's annual general meeting, Christian Russau from the umbrella organization, the Critical Shareholders, made a speech in which he launched a scathing attack on the company for its "double standards". According to Russau, Bayer sells pesticides in Brazil that are banned in the EU. Russau said he feared that companies such as Bayer will continue to participate, perhaps more than ever, in the sale and distribution of highly toxic agrochemicals in Brazil. As a survival tactic in the face of Monsanto's multi-billion dollar acquisition, Bayer will go for growth at any price. Any poison which can be sold will be sold.
Jury Slams Monsanto for Corporate Malfeasance in Roundup Cancer Trial, Awards $80 Million in Damages
Today, a second jury in less that 8 months found Bayer-Monsanto’s signature weedkiller Roundup responsible for causing cancer. The verdict in the case Hardeman v. Monsanto before a federal district court in San Francisco found exposure to glyphosate, the signature ingredient in Roundup, caused plaintiff Edward Hardeman’s non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Jurors awarded $80 million in damages to Hardeman. “Clearly, the testimony that informed the jury’s decision was Bayer-Monsanto hiding Roundup’s carcinogenic properties, manipulating the science and cozying-up with EPA so it would not have to warn consumers of its dangerous product,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “Bayer-Monsanto has known for decades the cancer-causing properties of Roundup and I applaud the jury for holding the company accountable for failing to warn consumers of the known danger. This verdict puts Bayer’s back firmly up against the wall as the cost of litigation mounts and its stock price gets pummeled once again,” said Cook.
A high-stakes federal trial kicked off in California involving a man diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma who is seeking compensation from Monsanto/Bayer because, he claims, its weedkiller Roundup caused his cancer. Even before the trial started, the judge’s behaviour was already making waves, prompting Robert Howard to write [an] article, warning that Judge Vincent Chhabria was “already hindering testimony”. Howard was one of the jurors who back in August of last year, at the culmination of the first case brought against Monsanto – a state rather than a federal case – ordered the company to pay $289 million in damages for having acted with “malice” in hiding the dangers of Roundup. Howard, however, probably never guessed the degree to which Judge Chhabria would hinder testimony once the actual trial got underway, leading to the Guardian headline Monsanto: judge threatens to 'shut down' cancer patient's lawyer.