Monsanto to pay $2 billion in weed killer cancer case

May 16, 2019, 01:23
Monsanto to pay $2 billion in weed killer cancer case

The verdict is the third legal defeat in a row for Monsanto, Roundup's parent company, which was acquired by Bayer a year ago.

Seventy-six-year-old Alva and 74-year-old Alberta Pilliod used Roundup for about 30 years for residential landscaping, which the jury believed played a "substantial factor" in their development of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

The Pilliods, who are in their mid-70s, had been longtime users of Roundup by the time Alva Pilliod was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2011.

In March, a jury awarded the plaintiff $80 million and in October a judge upheld a decision awarding $78.6 million for allegations the product caused cancer.

"There appeared to be more detailed evidence damaging to Monsanto, which strengthens plaintiffs' cases down the pipeline even further", said Pavlik, who has followed the trials.

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"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", Cook said. It also seems to fly in the face of a 2016 California Supreme Court ruling that found the ratio of punitive to compensatory damages in successful lawsuits should nearly never exceed nine to one, the AP added.

In addition to the Hardeman and Pilliod cases, a jury in San Francisco previous year initially awarded a man, Dewayne Johnson, $289 million in a case related to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and glyphosate-based products, but the judge later slashed the punitive damages levied against Bayer/Monsanto in that case to $39 million, down from $250 million (and left another $39 million in compensatory damages intact).

The company said it will appeal.

Professor Levine also says the jury's award of $2 billion in damages for the Pilliods will likely be ruled to be excessive upon appeal.

The firm also stressed that the verdict clashed with the view of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-reiterated just weeks ago-that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, is not carcinogenic.

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The verdict "is as clear of a statement as you can get that they need to change what they're doing", one of the plaintiffs' attorneys, Brent Wisner, told reporters Monday. "Instead of investing in sound science, they invested millions in attacking science that threatened their business agenda".

"Clearly we anticipate that much of the punitive damages of $2 billion would likely be significantly reduced on appeal", JP Morgan analysts said in a note. The court didn't propose a ratio it felt correct, but said punitive damages should nearly never exceed nine times actual damages, it said.

The stunning verdict came the same day that German chemical giant Bayer admitted that its subsidiary Monsanto could have kept lists of key figures - for or against pesticides - in European countries.

Glyphosate-based Roundup products have been used safely and successfully for over four decades worldwide and are a valuable tool to help farmers deliver crops to markets and practice sustainable farming by reducing soil tillage, soil erosion and carbon emissions. The verdict was announced after the trading session closed, AP points out.

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