A California appeals court will hear oral arguments tomorrow in Bayer AG’s bid to dismiss the massive verdict awarded to the plaintiff at the conclusion of the nation’s first Monsanto Roundup trial.
The hearing before a 3-judge panel of the Court of Appeal, First Appellate District in San Francisco, will take place via teleconference due to social distancing restrictions enacted in response to the global coronavirus pandemic.
Dwayne Johnson, a former California school district groundskeeper, claimed that his long-term exposure to glyphosate in Monsanto Roundup products contributed to his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The San Francisco Superior Court jury convened to hear his case agreed, and awarded him $289 million in compensatory and punitive damages in August 2018. The trial judge ultimately reduced the judgment to $78.5 million to comply with California’s constitutional limits on punitive damages.
In addition to arguing that the trial court improperly excluded evidence showing glyphosate is safe, attorneys for Bayer also assert that the jury’s verdict was based on emotion rather than scientific facts. Last month, however, the Appeals Court indicated that the parties should be prepared to discuss damages, suggesting the panel might uphold the verdict but reduce the judgement awarded to Mr. Johnson.
Glyphosate is the most popular herbicide in the world. But in March 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer declared glyphosate a probable human carcinogen, after an independent review suggested occupational exposure increased the risk of cancer, especially non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and its various subtypes.
Bayer acquired Monsanto in June 2018 and is now defending more than 52,000 Roundup lawsuits in courts throughout the United States. The company has lost all three cases that have gone to trial so far, with plaintiffs’ combined damages totaling $191 billion.
Although Bayer continues to deny that Monsanto Roundup causes cancer, the company has been participating in court ordered mediation aimed at resolving the massive litigation. In fact, recent reports have indicated that Bayer is close to agreeing to a $10 billion settlement that will resolve thousands of Monsanto Roundup lawsuits.