A U.S. judge ordered Bayer AG to pursue mediation with plaintiffs claiming that its Roundup weedkiller causes cancer, asking the company to try to settle lawsuits that have wreaked havoc on its share price.
More than 11,200 people have sued Bayer over Roundup in U.S. state and federal courts, and the company has lost two consecutive trials so far. The judge in San Francisco handling the federal suits initiated confidential talks as he canceled a third trial scheduled for May 20 that would have followed an $80 million verdict against Bayer last month.
“The parties should propose a mediator,” U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria wrote in an order Thursday. “If they cannot agree, the court will appoint someone.”
Chhabria said in lieu of the May trial, resources are better spent organizing the cases collected in the multidistrict litigation before him. That means determining which of those lawsuits should be dismissed, which should be sent to state courts, and sending other cases back to where they were originally filed for trials in federal court.
Bayer rose as much as 1 percent in Frankfurt on Friday, after an early dip. The legal fight over Roundup, and its main ingredient glyphosate, has wiped more than 30 billion euros ($34 billion) off the German company’s market value since the first trial loss last August.