Jury Slams Bayer-Monsanto in Latest Roundup Cancer Trial

Lloyd Doyle
May 14, 2019

A jury on Monday ordered agribusiness giant Monsanto Co.to pay a combined $2.055 billion to a couple claiming that the company's popular weed killer Roundup Ready caused their cancers.

In addition to the Hardeman and Pilliod cases, a jury in San Francisco a year ago 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).

A jury in Oakland ruled Monday that Monsanto, now owned by the German pharmaceutical corporation Bayer, was liable for the non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) cancer of Alva and Alberta Pilliod.

"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 plaintiff's counsel Brent Wisner. The couple has used the herbicide since the 1970s.

It comes after a landmark court ruling in the USA saw Monsanto ordered to pay hundreds of millions of dollars for causing a man's cancer.

Both other jury verdicts also came in California, one in state court and one in federal court.

Alva Pilliod and wife Alberta of Livermore, both in their 70s, were diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2011 and 2015, respectively. 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. And the company insists there is no link between Roundup and non-Hodgkins's lymphoma. That award was later reduced to $78 million and is on appeal.

The company said it will appeal.

The verdict was the third courtroom defeat for Bayer in cases accusing the chemicals in Roundup of causing cancer. Both of them are now in remission, but their trial had been expedited due to the risk of a relapse and potentially short life expectancy. Bayer denies those allegations.

More than 13,000 similar lawsuits have been filed against the company.

Lawsuits are largely based on a 2015 conclusion by the World Health Organization's cancer arm, which classified glyphosate as "probably carcinogenic to humans". The company argued that the ruling runs against what the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has said most recently about the chemical.

The EPA reaffirmed its position in April, saying that the active ingredient glyphosate found in the weed killer posed "no risks of concern" for people exposed to it by any means. Dewayne Johnson, a former school groundskeeper with terminal cancer, won a $289m victory in state court last year, and Edwin Hardeman, who sprayed Roundup on his properties, was awarded $80m in the first federal trial this year.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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