Bayer AG, the company behind the popular weed control product Roundup, has made top headlines throughout the news this week with their poor management practices and shocking number of personal injury lawsuits.
As of 2019, Bayer was found to knowingly include the controversial active ingredient glyphosate, an agricultural chemical that some health officials find harbor known carcinogenic properties. The Roundup product has undergone continuous production since the 1970s, holding its place as one of the most popular weed control products on the market. A study done by the International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2015 found that the active chemical glyphosate was indeed a cancerous product, but this didn’t stop the new owners of the Monsanto Corporation from marketing their product in stores across the country. After thousands of personal injury cases surfaced citing Roundup as the cause for their disease, Bayer faced nearly $75 million in punitive damages.
This all changed on June 29 when San Franciscan District Judge Vince Chhabria ruled that the $75 million verdict was not legal due to previous case precedents. Punitive damages, which chastise willful, malicious, oppressive, fraudulent, or reckless behavior, must not be more than four times larger than listed compensatory damages. Reduced by Judge Chhabria to $20 million, this significant update has cut Bayer’s award amount by more than 69%.
The Judge still had scathing words for the agricultural giant, writing in a statement that trial evidence had proven Bayer’s marketing of Roundup “was indeed reprehensible.” To him, the agricultural control company seemed to almost be “focused on attacking or undermining the people who raised concerns, to the exclusion of being an objective arbiter of Roundup’s safety.” Bayer AG declined to comment on the accusation, instead welcoming the lowered award amount and assuring stakeholders that all would be well.
Even after the barrage of allegations and legal ramifications, the German-owned company has continuously assured the public that their popular weed killer is safe for use. Losing three trials in California based courts as of last year, the company is more desperate than ever to restore their image and smooth over dropping stock shares. Only time will tell how much damage both Bayer and its victims will suffer.