Judge Rules Bayer CEO Werner Baumann Must Give Testimony in Roundup Litigation

by | Aug 29, 2022 | Human Rights & Justice

Werner Baumann, CEO of German pharmaceutical and chemical maker Bayer AG. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

Judge Rules Bayer CEO Werner Baumann Must Give Testimony in Roundup Litigation

by | Aug 29, 2022 | Human Rights & Justice

Werner Baumann, CEO of German pharmaceutical and chemical maker Bayer AG. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay
Baumann was instrumental in driving Bayer to buy Monsanto and has been the public face of the company’s continued insistence that Monsanto’s Roundup, and other glyphosate-based herbicides, are not carcinogenic.

Bayer AG CEO Werner Baumann can be required to provide testimony in ongoing Roundup litigation despite efforts by Bayer to block such action, according to a recent court order.

A judge in Arkansas ruled that lawyers for plaintiffs in the litigation may travel to Germany, where Bayer is based, and take deposition testimony from the executive to be used as evidence.  The judge directed Baumann to sit for the questioning within 90 days. The order is a first in the sweeping Roundup litigation, which began in 2015.

Baumann was instrumental in driving Bayer to buy Monsanto in 2018 for $63 billion, and he has been the public face for the company’s continued insistence that Monsanto’s Roundup, and other glyphosate-based herbicides, are not carcinogenic.

The plaintiffs’ lawyers say it is these representations by Baumann and others that open up Bayer to allegations of “fraudulent concealment,” and is part of the reason they want to depose him. The evidence and trials held to date have focused on scientific studies that mostly predate the acquisition, as well as internal Monsanto documents and other records, but have not explored corporate actions by Bayer.

Lawyers for Bayer sought a protective order preventing the deposition, and on Thursday asked the judge to reconsider his ruling, saying reconsideration is needed to prevent a “miscarriage of justice.” The company said additionally that if the court will not reconsider, it wants the deposition conducted “in accordance with the Hague Convention.”

Diagnosed at 43

More than 100,000 people have sued Monsanto alleging the company’s herbicides cause non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) and that Monsanto knew about, but covered up, the cancer risk of its products.  Bayer said in 2020 it would spend more than $11 billion to try to settle the claims, and has since earmarked even more money. The company has also said it will remove glyphosate herbicides from the US consumer market in 2023.

Despite the settlement efforts, roughly 30,000 plaintiffs continue to pursue claims that Roundup exposure caused them to develop cancer. Bayer faces a long line-up of new trials over the next several months and into next year. One is currently underway in St. Louis, Missouri.

Baumann and other company officials maintain there is no valid evidence the products do cause cancer, nor any other human health problem, if used as directed. Plaintiffs won the first three trials held while Bayer has won the last four.

The move to depose Baumann was filed in a lawsuit brought in Arkansas by cotton and soybean farmer Cornelius Kilgore and his wife. Along with farming, Kilgore also worked as a landscaper for several years, and maintained and landscaped his own property as well as his relatives’ properties. Overall, he used Roundup for roughly two decades personally and in his job, according to the lawsuit. The chemical frequently got onto his clothes and skin, the lawsuit states.

Kilgore, a father of seven children, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2018 at the age of 43.

“Lead dog”

In ruling in favor of the Baumann deposition request, Drew County Circuit Court Judge Robert Gibson said that Baumann “has made himself the lead dog” in the case.

“As the head of the company, there is no one who better knows what both the left and right hands of the company are doing than Mr. Baumann. It would shock the Court if Mr. Baumann did not have unique or specialized knowledge. Indeed, if there is one person that would be charged with knowing most all things, it would be him,” the judge stated in his order. “There is very little burden for Mr. Baumann to take one day to be deposed on what may be the biggest issue his organization is facing.”

Bayer’s purchase of Monsanto in 2018 took place just as the first Roundup trial was getting underway. After the trial ended in August 2018 with a unanimous jury decision in favor of the plaintiff, Bayer shares plummeted, wiping out billions of dollars of the company’s market capitalization.

Bayer also inherited multiple ongoing lawsuits around the US alleging Monsanto should be held responsible for environmental contamination by cancer-causing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

The deal was dubbed by the Wall Street Journal as “one of the most disastrous acquisitions in German corporate history.”

Republished with permission from The New Lede, by Carey Gillam

<a href="https://www.thenewlede.org/" target="_blank">The New Lede</a>

The New Lede

The New Lede is a news initiative specializing in coverage of environmental issues that are critical to the health and well-being of people everywhere. We provide investigative reporting, analysis, and explanatory articles about a broad range of environmental topics that too often are ignored or underreported by mainstream media sources, filling that gap with vital information regarding the state of our air, water, food and climate.

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Follow Us

Related Articles

Dec 01 2022

Ron DeSantis Puts Academics Under Attack in the Name of “Freedom”

A specialty of the so-called “champions of freedom” is to prohibit everything that does not suit their interests. Their repeated “free speech” means...
Nov 30 2022

Oath Keepers Convictions, the Limits of Free Speech — And the Threat Posed By Militias

Far-right extremists or other hate groups can claim they are just venting or even fantasizing—both of which would be protected under the First Amendment. For this...
Nov 23 2022

The Supreme Court Denies Trump’s Final Bid to Hide Tax Returns From House Committee

The ridiculous and repeated delaying tactics by Trump to hide his tax returns from Congress are finally over.
Nov 20 2022

Profits Over People: The Danger of Private Equity’s Stealthy Takeover of Health Care

Private equity is rapidly moving to reshape health care in America, coming off a banner year in 2021, when the deep-pocketed firms plowed $206 billion into more than...
Nov 18 2022

First Amendment: Censorship Law Backed by DeSantis Struck Down by Federal Judge

A Federal judge ruled, “…the First Amendment does not permit the State of Florida to muzzle its university professors, impose its own orthodoxy of...
Nov 11 2022

The Lost and Nearly Forgotten Story of the Bonus Army March

The Bonus Army March was one of the few times in American history when the U.S. military was used to shut down a massive demonstration of peaceful protesters.
Nov 03 2022

On Election Day—What to Do if Your Vote Is Challenged

Voting on election day is your right, privilege and duty. With all the noise created by the former president, complexities have been generated that can get in your way....
Nov 02 2022

The Barbaric Results of Republican Abortion Bans

In a new Senate report healthcare providers explained how abortion bans have adversely affected their ability to care for patients and have cut down on abortion access...
Oct 28 2022

Michigan Abortion Rights Vote: A Collision and Medicine and Politics

Kansas voted this year to keep abortion legal. Now Michigan is one of five states asking voters to weigh in on abortion policy in the wake of the Supreme Court’s June...
Oct 24 2022

Meet the Major Corporations Bankrolling the Anti-Abortion Attorneys General Group

Major corporations are backing RAGA (Republican Attorney Generals Association) which is devoting resources to key attorneys general races across the country.
Subscribe for Updates!

Subscribe for Updates!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This