Bayer ordered to pay $2bn in new US Roundup trial

Bayer ordered to pay $2bn in new US Roundup trial

Troy Powers
May 15, 2019

A California jury on Monday awarded more than $2 billion to a couple who claimed Bayer AG's glyphosate-based Roundup weed killer caused their cancer, in the largest USA jury verdict to date against the company in litigation over the chemical.

The jury came to its verdict yesterday, Monday, May 13, and according to Reuters, the case is the largest United States jury verdict to date against the company in litigation over the chemical.

Monsanto was initially ordered to pay $289 million to Johnson, before the damages were reduced to Dollars 78.5 million.

A jury in San Francisco Superior Court in Oakland found the company liable after a seven-week trial - citing its active ingredient, glyphosate, as the underlying cause of the cancer.

The jury awarded each of them $1bn in punitive damages as well as a total of $55m in compensatory damages.

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.

But Bayer now faces more than 13,400 U.S. lawsuits over Roundup's alleged cancer risk.

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Bayer's spokesman called the latest decision "excessive and unjustifiable", saying that the company would appeal the verdict. She says they are unable to enjoy the same activities they participated in before their cancer diagnosis. In addition, the largest and most recent epidemiologic study - the 2018 independent National Cancer Institute-supported long-term study that followed over 50,000 pesticide applicators for more than 20 years and was published after the IARC monograph - found no association between glyphosate-based herbicides and cancer. The verdict puts the onus on Bayer to alter its defense course and consider a settlement: litigation concerns have eroded Bayer's value by more than 40 per cent since the deal was sealed in June. Brent Wisner told the panel his punitive damages request was roughly based on the gross profit of US$892 million recorded in 2017 by Monsanto's agricultural-chemicals division.

A federal jury in San Francisco previously ordered the weed killer maker to pay a man $80 million (NZ$121.7 million) and a San Francisco jury in August awarded $289 million (NZ$434 million) to a former greenskeeper, though a judge later reduced it.

More than 13,000 similar lawsuits have been filed against the company, according to the EWG news release. The company also said it would appeal that decision. They are both in remission. It also remains to be seen how juries in other part of the country react to the evidence in upcoming trials, he said.

Bayer denied the allegations.

The report, by WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer, said glyphosate is "probably carcinogenic to humans".

The Environmental Protection Agency's official position is that "there are no risks to public health when glyphosate is used in accordance with its current label and that glyphosate is not a carcinogen", with the EPA reiterating this stance at the end of April.