Monday, 27 May, 2019

U.S. jury awards $2bn damages in Roundup weedkiller cancer claim

Monsanto must pay couple $2bn in largest verdict yet over cancer claims Jury Slams Bayer-Monsanto in Latest Roundup Cancer Trial
Jean Garcia | 14 May, 2019, 07:12

A United States jury has awarded $2 billion in punitive damages to a California couple after concluding that Roundup weed killer caused their cancer and that Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, failed to warn them of the chemical's health risks.

The couple's legal team described the damages award as "historic", saying it totaled $2.055 billion after adding in slightly more than $55 million in compensatory damages.

The verdict represents the third such legal setback for the company in California since mid-2018.

"The jury saw for themselves internal company documents demonstrating that, from day one, Monsanto has never had any interest in finding out whether Roundup is safe", said their counsel, Brent Wisner. Bayer also points to several regulators around the world that found that glyphosate was not carcinogenic to humans.

A federal jury in San Francisco ordered the weed killer maker in March to pay a Sonoma County man $80 million.

A jury in state court in Oakland, Calif., issued the verdict Monday after two other California trials over the herbicide yielded combined damages of $159 million against the company.

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Alva and Alberta Pilliod, of Livermore, were both diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma following years of weed killer use, their lawyers say. In contrast, plaintiffs in this case presented the jury with cherry-picked findings from a tiny fraction of the volume of studies available, and that failed to adjust for exposure to other pesticides, did not have statistically significant results, had very small exposed populations and/or are at odds with the full body of science. Johnson was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2014 and regularly spraying a high-concentration version of Roundup known as Ranger Pro as part of his job from 2012 to 2016. "They took detailed notes, asked incredibly thoughtful questions and in the end, came to understand that the science shows there are serious health hazards associated with Roundup and that Monsanto did nothing to warn people about the risk".

A San Francisco jury last August awarded $289 million to a former golf course greens keeper who blamed his cancer on Monsanto's Roundup Ready herbicide. That award was later reduced to $78m and is on appeal.

While it was a "risky move" to ask for an award of more than $1 billion, the three verdicts against Bayer show jurors are convinced by evidence against the company, said Anna Pavlik, senior counsel for special situations at United First Partners in NY. Both are in remission but testified about lasting damage from the cancer.

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

FILE PHOTO: The Bayer AG logo sits on display at the headquarters in La Garenne-Colombes, near Paris, France, May 13, 2019.

Bayer Chief Executive Officer Werner Baumann faces increased shareholder pressure over the litigation it inherited from Monsanto as investors have been closely watching developments in the costly Roundup lawsuits.

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