Bayer AG has appealed the first federal Monsanto Roundup verdict.
The Germany-based conglomerate is seeking to overturn the $25 million judgment awarded to Edward Hardeman, a-year-old California man had used Roundup for more than 30 years before being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2014.
A jury in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, ordered Bayer to pay Hardeman $5.27 million in compensatory damages and $75 million in punitive damages on March 27th, after concluding that glyphosate in Monsanto Roundup was a substantial factor in the development of his cancer.
While the trial judge ultimately reduced the Roundup verdict to $25 million after finding punitive damages to be excessive, he agreed that Bayer deserved to be punished” for its “reprehensible conduct.”
In an appeal filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on December 13th, Bayer argued that Hardeman’s Roundup verdict “defies both expert regulatory judgment and sound science.”
Bayer inherited the massive Roundup litigation in June 2018, when it acquired U.S.-based Monsanto. The company is now defending more than 43,000 Monsanto Roundup lawsuits that blame the glyphosate-based herbicide for causing cancer. About 5,000 of those cases are centralized before a single federal judge in the Northern District of California.
The Roundup litigation got underway shortly after the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) declared glyphosate a probable human carcinogen, based on an independent review that linked occupational exposure to an increased risk of cancer, especially non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and its various subtypes.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other regulators around the world have reached the opposite conclusion. But plaintiffs claim that Monsanto worked aggressively to discredit the IARC review, manipulated favorable glyphosate studies, and unduly influenced regulatory reviews of the herbicide.
Two other Monsanto Roundup verdicts have gone to trial over the past year and a half. In August 2018, a San Francisco Superior Court jury awarded $289 million (later reduced to $78 million) to a former school district groundskeeper with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. And in May, a jury in Alameda County Superior Court ordered Bayer to pay $2 billion (later reduced $86.7 million) to a California couple, both of whom had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma following decades of Roundup exposure.
While Bayer continues to deny any association between Monsanto Roundup and cancer, the company is participating in court-ordered mediation in an attempt to resolve the costly litigation. Two Roundup lawsuits scheduled for trial in January were recently postponed to accommodate those talks.
Earlier this year, Bayer’s CEO suggested the company was open to an “economically reasonable” Roundup settlement.