By Alexander Kell
Bayer AG’s federal court cases in the U.S. about the Roundup weedkiller have been pushed back at the request of mediator Ken Feinberg, signaling that a settlement could be near.
Judge Vince Chhabria issued an order extending all deadlines in the federal multidistrict litigation in San Francisco by 28 days, as Tom Claps of Susquehanna Financial Group LLP pointed out in a note.
According to the litigation analyst, the odds of a near term settlement announcement have increased “significantly” with the news. The fact that all multi-district litigation activity has been halted by the judge should be seen as a “clear indication that the parties are very close to a resolution”.
It comes with Bayer scheduled to release earnings on Feb. 27, increasing speculation that an announcement could occur before that date, Claps points out. In mid-January, Feinberg, the lead mediator for the cases, indicated settlement deals resolving as many as 85,000 Roundup claims in the U.S. may be reached within a month.
After losing three trials in California that resulted in combined damages of $191 million, Bayer said in December that it agreed to postpone some Roundup trials to give mediation a chance. At least a half-dozen trials scheduled to start this month and next have been put on hold. Bayer is appealing the verdicts it lost.