Bayer AG won’t be getting a do-over in the case of a California man who developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma following years of exposure to Monsanto Roundup.
The company had sought a new trial in a bid to reverse the $80 million verdict awarded to Edward Hardeman, 77. The massive judgement came in March, when a jury in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, found that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto Roundup, was a substantial factor in his cancer.
In its subsequent post-trial motions, Bayer argued that the jury’s decision was unwarranted. But in a ruling issued on Friday, June 12th, U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria wrote that that Hardeman had presented “sufficient admissible evidence” to justify the verdict.
According to his Roundup lawsuit, Hardeman was an avid home gardener and used the glyphosate-based herbicide for nearly 30 years at his California residences before learning he had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2014.
Following four weeks of testimony, the six-member jury unanimously found Monsnato had failed to warn glyphosate is carcinogenic ad acted with malice by not including a cancer notice on the Roundup label. Bayer, which acquired Monsanto last year, was ordered to pay Hardeman $5 million in compensatory damages for past and future pain and suffering, along with an additional $75 million in punitive damages.
Judge Chhabria must still decide whether to reduce punitive damages so they comply with U.S. Supreme Court rulings limiting such awards to a 9 to 1 ratio with compensatory damages. He is also considering reducing Hardeman’s compensatory damages, since his cancer is now in remission and he’s not likely to suffer as much as he had in the past.
Earlier this month, one the jurors on the case wrote a letter urging Judge Chhabria to keep the Roundup verdict intact, insisting it was “no mistake” and noting that higher punitive awards are permitted in extraordinary circumstances.
Judge Chhabria’s decision on the matter is expected later today.
Bayer is currently defending more than 13,400 Monsanto Roundup lawsuits in courts throughout the United States. Hardeman’s case was the second to go to trial, as well as the second of three straight losses for Bayer.
Last August, a jury in San Francisco Superior Court awarded $289 million to a former school district groundskeeper with terminal non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. That award was eventually reduced to $78 million to comply with California’s constitutional limits on punitive damages. Nevertheless, Bayer is seeking to have the entire judgement dismissed on appeal.
In May, a third jury in California’s Alameda Superior Court awarded $2 billion to an elderly couple who had also used Monsanto Roundup products on their property for decades. They were diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma within just years of each other. Bayer has indicated it will appeal that verdict as well.
The German company continues to deny that glyphosate causes cancer, even though the World Health Organization declared the herbicide a probable human carcinogen in March 2015.
Bayer has promised to vigorously defend the remaining Monsanto Roundup lawsuits. However, the company also recently agreed to participate in a court-ordered mediation effort led by Kenneth Feinberg, the prominent attorney behind the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund and other high-profile legal settlements.