Bayer AG suffered a resounding legal defeat when a California jury slammed the company with more than $2 billion in punitive damages following a Roundup cancer trial.
The Alameda County Superior Court jury found that Alva and Alberta Pilliod’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) diagnosis was caused by Roundup weed killer, manufactured by Monsanto, a subsidiary of Bayer.
The punitive damages are the largest award to date in a Roundup cancer trial. Punitive damages are awarded to punish a defendant for its actions and deter others from committing similar actions.
The jury also awarded $55 million in compensatory damages to Alva Pilliod, 76, and his 74-year-old wife, Alberta. The couple said they had regularly used Roundup weed killer on their property for 30 years.
In a statement released after the trial, Bayer called the May 13 verdict “disappointing” and said the company would appeal the jury’s decision.
Roundup Complaints Focus on Glyphosate
Roundup lawsuits claim the glyphosate herbicide in the weed killer causes cancer. Plaintiffs contend that the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic.” Plaintiffs also accuse Bayer and Monsanto of failing to warn consumers about the health hazards associated with Roundup.
Bayer, however, maintains that glyphosate is safe. The company points to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s conclusion that glyphosate is not a carcinogen and does not pose a public health risk when used as directed.
More Roundup Cancer Trials to Follow
Four more Roundup cancer trials are scheduled later this year in Missouri and Montana. The most recent trial in California is the third Roundup cancer trial that Bayer lost.
In the first trial held in August 2018, a San Francisco County Superior Court jury awarded a California man $289 million in damages. The judge reduced the $250 million in punitive damages to $39 million. DeWayne Johnson, 46, said he was diagnosed with NHL in August 2014 after repeatedly using Ranger Pro while working as a school groundskeeper. Ranger Pro is Monsanto’s generic version of Roundup.
In March, a Sonoma County, California man was awarded $80 million in the first Roundup cancer trial held in federal court. Edwin Hardeman, 70, said he had used Roundup on his property for years before receiving an NHL diagnosis in 2015.