By Tina Bellon
(Reuters) – Bayer AG said on Friday it has reached an agreement with plaintiffs’ lawyers to postpone a Missouri jury trial over allegations its popular weed killer Roundup causes cancer to provide room for negotiations to settle the litigation.
“While Bayer is constructively engaged in the mediation process, there is no comprehensive agreement at this time. There also is no certainty or timetable for a comprehensive resolution,” the company said in a statement in reference to the settlement talks.
The fourth jury trial in the Roundup litigation was scheduled to begin in St. Louis on Friday morning, but never got underway as lawyers for the company and the cancer patients sat down to discuss a hold of the trial.
The lawsuit would have marked the first multi-plaintiff trial over whether glyphosate, Roundup’s active ingredient, is carcinogenic, and the first trial outside of California. St. Louis is the hometown of Roundup-maker Monsanto, a unit Bayer acquired in a $63 billion deal in 2018.
Three consecutive juries previously found the company liable for causing cancer with damages of tens of millions of dollars awarded to each plaintiff. Bayer is appealing those verdicts.
Court-appointed mediator Ken Feinberg, who leads the settlement discussions, has put the number of Roundup cancer claimants at more than 75,000 while Bayer said the claims it has been served with in court were below 50,000.
Bayer on Friday said it will continue the mediation process under Feinberg in good faith.
(Reporting by Tina Bellon in New York; editing by Nick Macfie and Marguerita Choy)