Jury returns $2 billion verdict against Monsanto for couple with cancer
Jury returns $2 billion verdict against Monsanto for couple with cancer
Jury Slams Bayer-Monsanto in Latest Roundup Cancer Trial
14 May, 2019, 07:11
A jury in Oakland, California, has awarded a couple $2 billion in punitive damages after concluding that sustained exposure to Monsanto Co.'s popular Roundup weed killer led to their cancer diagnoses. The jury awarded damages of about $55 million for the couple's medical bills and pain and suffering on top of the punitive damages.
It's the largest jury award in the U.S.so far this year and the eighth-largest ever in a product-defect claim, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The damages award is likely to be reduced due to US Supreme Court rulings that limit the ratio of punitive to compensatory damages to 9:1.
In March, a federal jury in San Francisco awarded $80 million to another California man after finding Roundup caused his cancer.
Glyphosate developer Monsanto was convicted in the United States in 2018 and 2019 of not taking necessary steps to warn of the potential risks of Roundup - their weedkiller containing the chemical, which two California juries found caused cancer in two users.
Alva and Alberta Pilliod, who are in their 70s, claimed they used Roundup for more than 30 years to landscape their home and other properties, without protective gear.
Michael Miller, another attorney for the couple, noted that the judge in this case permitted the legal team to present significant evidence about Monsanto's conduct, in contrast to previous trials, where evidence was severely limited.
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The six-member jury in San Francisco federal civil court unanimously concluded that glyphosate was a "substantial factor" in Sonoma resident Edwin Hardeman's non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
The juries have repeatedly ruled that Roundup was defectively designed, that the company failed to warn consumers about the cancer risks, and that Monsanto has acted negligently. "By now, most Bayer executives, its board and shareholders must all be questioning the decision to acquire Monsanto and its mounting liability over its cancer-causing weedkiller". Both of them are now in remission, but their trial had been expedited due to the risk of a relapse and potentially short life expectancy.
The decision Monday marked the third defeat in court for Monsanto in California since August. In the first, school groundskeeper Dewayne "Lee" Johnson was ultimately awarded $78.5 million.
Bayer said it was "disappointed" in the decision and would appeal. Bayer denies those allegations.
The American Cancer Society lists glysophate as a "probable carcinogen", based on a 2015 finding that it is "probably carcinogenic to humans" by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a part of the World Health Organization. The company cited the continuing approval of glyphosate by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and "the consensus among leading health regulators worldwide that glyphosate-based products can be used safely and that glyphosate is not carcinogenic, and the 40 years of extensive scientific research on which their favorable conclusions are based".
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