The amicable arrangement on the subject of RoundUp in the United States bodes well for the collective actions that are underway in Canada, say lawyers involved in the case. On Wednesday, the multinational company Bayer has announced a settlement of more than $ 10 billion with thousands of plaintiffs americans, arguing that the use of this herbicide cause cancer.
“This is good news for the plaintiffs in Canada, even if it doesn’t mean that the collective action in Canada to be resolved. However, it is the harbinger of a potential for quick resolution of claims on our side of the border, ” judge Raymond F. Wagner, the senior partner of a firm of Halifax, which represents the complainants in Nova Scotia.
Steps to collective actions are currently in progress in seven canadian provinces. For the moment, more than 1,000 people have contacted the law firm of Me Wagner to take part in collective action in nova scotia. “Many of them” suffer from non-hodgkin lymphoma, which they associate with weedkiller brand RoundUp.
Clint Docken, a lawyer from Calgary, who is leading the charge in Alberta, is of the same opinion as his colleague : “Generally, the regulations in the United States have an effect on parallel litigation in Canada. Often, the collective actions to end here in the same way “, he observes, in the hope of a resolved in a timely manner to its customers.
By purchasing from the manufacturer of RoundUp, Monsanto, to 63 billion US $in June 2018, the company’s agrochemical German Bayer also inherited a prosecution related to the product controversial. Recall that, by 2015, the international agency for research on cancer, affiliated with the world health Organization (WHO), has classified glyphosate as a probable carcinogen. Its manufacturers contend that the herbicide is safe when used in accordance with the instructions.
In Quebec, it is the firm Dussault, Lemay and Beauchesne that deals with the folder. The lawyer Marie-Pier Smith is sparing in his comments on the agreement us, simply noting that the procedures in canada and québec will continue.
On Wednesday, Bayer announced that it would pay 8.8 to 9.6 billion US$, to put an end to the litigation and current users of RoundUp. Approximately 95 000 complaints associated with this product, will thus be resolved, according to Bayer. The plaintiffs, represented by 25 law firms as well as different, receive variable amounts. Part of the money is set aside to resolve the cases of some 25,000 plaintiffs who have not immediately wanted to join the agreement.
The company has also provided $ 1.25 billion in order to respond to future complaints of people developing cancer after using the herbicide.
“First and foremost, the regulation on the RoundUp is the right action at the right time for Bayer to put an end to a long period of uncertainty,” said the p.-d. g. of the company, Werner Baumann, by way of a press release. The latter also welcomes the fact that a “clear mechanism” frames from now on ” risks of potential future disputes “. It does not admit the dangerousness of the product.
In recent years, the pressure became more and more strong, especially on the side of the investors, so that Bayer finds a solution to the recurring problem of prosecutions related to the RoundUp. Since the summer of 2018, the company has been summoned three times by us courts to pay heavy compensation to the victims.
Even compared to american standards, the amount of more than $ 10 billion granted Wednesday by Bayer is ” huge “, emphasizes Catherine Piché, a professor of law at the University of Montreal and the founder of the Laboratory on the collective actions. “It is a huge regulation that will certainly have an impact on the records in Quebec and in Canada,” she said.
At Bayer Canada, we are assured, however, that the agreement south of the border will have no impact on litigation in Canada “. “We do not envisage a regulation [friendly] for the canadian business related to the glyphosate. And while there are some similarities between the legal systems of the usa and canada, they are in fact very different, especially in regards to the damages and interests “, said in a written reply in English.
Thus, the path of negotiation leading to a settlement out of court seems at the moment rather closed in Canada. The lawyer Clint Docken said to be in contact less frequently with the company. “We encourage Bayer to speak to us also,” he says, as it has done in the United States.
Approved for use in Canada
In January 2019, Health Canada confirmed the renewal of its authorisation of glyphosate for a period of fifteen years. Environmentalists, researchers and health professionals had asked him to reconsider the conclusions of its assessment of 2017, after it was learned thanks to the Monsanto Papers that some of the studies considered by Health Canada had been manipulated by the company.
After a new glance by 20 scientists, Health Canada has deemed the scientific basis of the previous decision remained valid. “No other assessment body in the world not to judge that glyphosate poses a risk to human health, including a cancer hazard at the doses to which the canadian population is exposed,” said then Frederic Bissonnette, an advisor to the ministry.