WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The administration of President Joe Biden asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday not to listen to Bayer AG’s offer to dismiss customer claims that its Roundup herbicide causes cancer, as the company seeks avoid billions of dollars in damage.
Attorney General Elizabeth Prelogar, who represents the administration in the high court, said in a court filing that Bayer’s appeal should be rejected.
Bayer filed a petition last August asking the judges to reverse a lower court decision that upheld $25 million in damages awarded to California resident Edwin Hardeman, a Roundup user who blamed his cancer on glyphosate-based herbicides from the German pharmaceutical and chemical giant. In December, the Supreme Court asked the Biden administration to provide his views. Judges generally give deference to the attorney general’s findings.
Bayer has argued that the cancer claims for Roundup and its active ingredient, glyphosate, run counter to sound science and the US Environmental Protection Agency’s approval of the product. The EPA has upheld the guidance. that glyphosate is not carcinogenic and does not pose a risk to public health when used as directed on the label.
Lawsuits against Bayer have said the company should have warned customers about the alleged cancer risk.
Prelogar rejected Bayer’s argument that the EPA’s approval of the label under a federal law called the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act preempts “failure to warn” claims brought under state law.
“EPA’s approval of labels that do not warn about particular chronic hazards does not of itself negate the requirement under state law to provide such warnings,” Prelogar wrote.
The Supreme Court’s decision on whether or not to take up the matter is being closely watched as Bayer maneuvers to limit its legal liability in thousands of cases.
A company statement said Bayer believes it has “strong legal arguments” to support the Supreme Court taking the case.
Bayer has asked the Supreme Court to review the verdict in Hardeman’s case, which was upheld cancer-2021-05-14 by the San Francisco-based U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in May. Hardeman had used Roundup regularly for 26 years at his home in Northern California before he was diagnosed with a form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham)
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