Bayer AG has lost a second trial over claims that its Roundup weed killer causes cancer – and has been ordered by a San Fancisco jury to pay compensatory damages of $5.3 million and punitive damages of $75 million to a 70-year-old California man, Edwin Hardeman, who was diagnosed with cancer after spraying the herbicide on his property for decades.
The plaintiff’s attorneys said he developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after 26 years of regularly using Roundup to tackle weeds and poison oak, according to the Wall Street Journal. The active ingredient in Roundup and Ranger Pro is glyphosate, a herbicide.
Wednesday’s verdict follows a similar decision last August in which a former school groundskeeper was awarded $289 million after claiming that Roundup gave him non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
German Bayer AG acquired the Roundup brand of glyphosate weed killers in its $66 billion purchase of Monsanto in June of last year.
Responding to the verdict, Bayer said in a statement “We are disappointed with the jury’s decision, but this verdict does not change the weight of over four decades of extensive science and the conclusions of regulators worldwide that support the safety of our glyphosate-based herbicides and that they are not carcinogenic.”
“You can’t keep trying case after case after case and keep losing and say, ‘We’re not going to settle,” said Thomas G. Rohback, a trial lawyer at Axinn in New York quoted by Bloomberg, who adds that if Bayer continues to lose at trial, it “has to put the possibility of a settlement of these cases into the mix.“
Wednesday’s case is considered a “bellwether” trial for hundreds of other plaintiffs in the US with similar claims, which means the verdict could affect future litigation and other cancer patients and families. Monsanto, now owned by the German pharmaceutical company Bayer, is facing more than 9,000 similar lawsuits across the US.