Bayer was hit with another big Monsanto Roundup verdict yesterday, after a jury in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, awarded $80 million to a home gardener suffering from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
“Now two different juries have held that Roundup causes an individual’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma,” the plaintiff’s attorney told The New York Times, “and that Monsanto should be punished for its conduct.”
Edward Hardeman, 77, used Monsanto’s Roundup for nearly 30 years at his homes in California before learning he had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2015.
The first phase of Hardeman’s trial concluded last week, after jurors ruled that the glyphosate-based herbicide was a “substantial factor” in his cancer. That decision allowed the trial to move into a second phase, which focused on Monsanto’s liability.
During the second part of the trial, Hardeman was permitted to present evidence of Monsanto’s corporate misconduct, including its efforts to manipulate science and the regulatory agencies that reviewed glyphosate.
Glyphosate is the most widely-used weed killer in the world.
In March 2015, however, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) declared the herbicide a probable human carcinogen. The designation followed an independent review that suggested occupational exposure to glyphosate increased the risk of cancer, especially non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and its various subtypes.
Monsanto disputed those findings and launched an aggressive effort to undermine the IARC review.
In December 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a draft assessment that said glyphosate likely did not pose a cancer risk to humans. But Hardeman asserted that Monsanto’s “cozy” relationship with the agency allowed the company to exert undue influence over the EPA’s review. He also presented internal company emails that suggested Monsanto officials were heavily involved, and even ghostwrote, several scientific studies that backed continued use of glyphosate.
The six-member jury began deliberating Monsanto’s liability on Tuesday afternoon, and were able to reach a verdict late yesterday.
They awarded Hardeman $75 million in punitive damages, after finding that the company acted with “malice and oppression.” The Monsanto Roundup verdict also included $5 million for his past and future suffering, and $200,000 for medical bills.
Bayer is facing more than 11,200 Roundup lawsuits in courts throughout the United States.
The nation’s first such trial concluded last August, when a San Francisco Superior Court jury awarded $289 million to a former California groundskeeper with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. However, that Monsanto Roundup verdict was eventually reduced to $78 million, after the presiding judge found that the jury’s punitive damage award exceeded California’s constitutional limits.
As a bellwether trial, Hardeman’s case was considered more significant.
“It provides a roadmap for all those other cases,” Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond, told CNN. “It’s a bellwether, there may be other cases like this.”
Investors certainly aren’t happy. According to Reuters, Bayer shares fell 1.3%, to a nearly 7-year low, in reaction to the latest Monsanto Roundup verdict. The stock has dropped over 18% since the jury found for Hardeman at the conclusion of the trial’s first phase.