German chemical giant Bayer chalked up a win and saw a mistrial in two separate Roundup lawsuits on Mar. 1, 2024.

In an Arkansas Roundup trial, Bayer emerged triumphant as the jury absolved the company of liability in the cancer-related death of Wanda Cody. On the same day, a Delaware court declared a mistrial in a separate Roundup lawsuit due to the jury’s inability to reach a unanimous verdict regarding the cancer diagnosis of Anthony Cloud, a former landscaper. 

These legal confrontations are fragments of a broader pattern, with thousands of lawsuits filed against Bayer in the U.S., totaling around 165,000 claims that allege Roundup caused cancer and other personal injuries.

Roundup lawsuits have plagued the company since it purchased the weedkiller’s original manufacturer, Monsanto, for $63 billion in 2018. Despite Bayer’s assertion that Roundup and its active ingredient, glyphosate, are safe based on decades of studies, plaintiffs continue to claim a link between the herbicide and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

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A Victory for Bayer in Arkansas Roundup Trial

Bayer successfully defended itself in an Arkansas Circuit Court against accusations linking Roundup to Wanda Cody’s cancer. The verdict exonerated Bayer from any responsibility for Cody’s illness and death. This outcome holds significant weight for Bayer, which has faced mounting legal challenges — including losing a $2.25 billion judgment in a January Roundup lawsuit. 

The Arkansas jury’s ruling underscores the complexity of Roundup lawsuits. While Cody’s family sought accountability from Bayer, the verdict indicates that the evidence presented was insufficient to establish a link between Roundup and her cancer.

The outcome of the Arkansas trial reinforces Bayer’s stance on the safety of its product. It may bolster confidence among stakeholders and investors. 

However, the company still has high legal hurdles to overcome. As of Mar. 5, 2024, Bayer faced 4,253 Roundup lawsuits in multidistrict litigation in a California federal court and thousands more in state courts nationwide.

Mistrial in Delaware Roundup Lawsuit

On the same day as the Arkansas verdict, a Delaware Superior Court ruled a mistrial in another Roundup cancer lawsuit

The Delaware case, brought by the family of Anthony Cloud, raised similar allegations of cancer caused by Roundup exposure. However, after three days of deliberation, the jury failed to reach a unanimous decision. 

Despite the mistrial, Cloud’s family can pursue another trial.

Legal experts suggest the mistrial highlights the complexity of the court battles Bayer faces over the herbicide and the differing interpretations of scientific evidence regarding Roundup’s safety. Taken together, the two trials may move attorneys for both sides in the ongoing Roundup lawsuits to adjust their courtroom strategies.

Business Challenges Ahead for Bayer

Bayer’s legal troubles over Roundup present consequences from the courtroom to the boardroom. Just days after the two trials ended, Bayer reported a $3.1 billion loss compared to $4.51 billion net profit last year.

Bayer reported significant financial losses in 2023, attributing part of the decline to litigation related to its glyphosate-based weedkillers. The ongoing legal battles pose a stiff challenge to Bayer’s economic stability and reputation. 

The company also offered an over $10 billion Roundup settlement in 2020 to resolve more than 100,000 Roundup lawsuits.

In a public notice, CEO Bill Anderson highlighted four key challenges the company must urgently address:

  • Overcoming hierarchical bureaucracy
  • Managing high debt levels
  • Resolving glyphosate litigation issues
  • Strengthening its pharmaceutical pipeline

While Bayer aims to tackle these challenges head-on, further legal proceedings and potential financial liabilities loom, casting a shadow over the company’s financial prospects.