For first time, Bayer CEO targeted to give testimony in Roundup litigation

By Carey Gillam

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 a deposition of Baumann, 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.”