Loc: Waterloo, NY
Someone’s on a losing streak! $2 Billion!!!
Bayer Jury Awards $2 Billion Damages in Third Roundup Trial
Bayer AG was ordered to pay more than $2 billion in damages to a California couple that claimed they got cancer as a result of using the company’s Roundup weedkiller for about 30 years.
It’s the largest jury award in the U.S. so far this year and the eighth-largest ever in a product-defect claim, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Bayer has now lost three trials in a row over claims Roundup causes cancer.
A jury in state court in Oakland, California, issued the verdict Monday after two other California trials over the herbicide yielded combined damages of $159 million against the company. Bayer is appealing those verdicts and vowed to challenge Monday’s as well, calling it “excessive and unjustifiable.”
The verdict “conflicts directly with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s interim registration review decision released just last month, the consensus among leading health regulators worldwide that glyphosate-based products can be used safely and that glyphosate is not carcinogenic,” Bayer said in a statement.
When the company’s lawyer asked a juror after the verdict what the panel wanted to hear from Bayer, the juror responded that he wanted proof the chemical was safe: “I wanted you to get up and drink it.” The juror declined to be identified.
For Bayer on Trial, Weeding Out Roundup-Wary Jurors Isn’t Easy
The jurors agreed that Alva and Alberta Pilliod’s exposure to Roundup used for residential landscaping was a “substantial factor” in their non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In addition to $1 billion for each spouse, the jury awarded damages of about $55 million for the couple’s medical bills and pain and suffering.
The verdict will be vulnerable to a legal challenge by Bayer because courts have generally held that punitive damages shouldn’t be more than 10 times higher than compensatory damages.
Monsanto Co., the maker of Roundup acquired by Bayer last June, is the named defendant in similar U.S. lawsuits filed by at least 13,400 plaintiffs.
“The verdict in this trial has no impact on future cases and trials, as each one has its own factual and legal circumstances,” Bayer said in its statement.
While it was a “risky move” to ask for an award of more than $1 billion -- and the damages will probably be reduced by the judge -- the three verdicts against Bayer show jurors are convinced by evidence against the company, said Anna Pavlik, senior counsel for special situations at United First Partners LLC in New York.
“In this case there appeared to be more detailed evidence damaging to Monsanto, which strengthens plaintiffs’ cases down the pipeline even further,” said Pavlik, who has followed the trials.