Jury orders Monsanto to pay $2bn to couple in Roundup cancer case

Bayer is ordered to pay $2 billion in Roundup cancer case

Bayer has lost three trials in a row over claims that its Roundup weedkiller causes cancer

A jury in California has awarded more than $2 billion to a couple who claimed Bayer's glyphosate-based Roundup weed killer caused their cancer.

Bayer's stock price hit an nearly seven-year low Tuesday, in the wake of a third US jury verdict that found its Roundup weedkiller to be a cause of people's cancer.

The septuagenarian plaintiffs, Alva and Alberta Pilliod of Livermore, used the weed killer on their property for more than three decades and were diagnosed with the same type of cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, four years apart, according to their attorneys. They were both found to have non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

"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. The corporation has repeatedly defended the controversial product, claiming that scientific evidence supports Monsanto's position that glyphosate-based herbicides are not carcinogenic. The damages award is likely to be reduced due to US Supreme Court rulings that limit the ratio of punitive to compensatory damages to 9:1.

In addition to the Hardeman and Pilliod cases, a jury in San Francisco a year ago initially awarded a man, Dewayne Johnson, $289 million in a case related to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and glyphosate-based products, but the judge later slashed the punitive damages levied against Bayer/Monsanto in that case to $39 million, down from $250 million (and left another $39 million in compensatory damages intact). The company also said it would appeal that decision.

Bayer said the jury was presented with "cherry-picked findings" inconsistent with a statement last month by the US Environmental Protection Agency, which announced that glyphosate was not a carcinogen and posed no public health risk when used as directed.

"They were given an incredibly hard task having to analyze the highly-complex scientific issues in this case", said co-lead trial counsel R. Brent Wisner, of Baum Hedlund Law, in a statement after the verdict.

The level of punitive damages may be reduced on appeal, but right now it's the eighth-biggest product-defect jury award in US history.

It awarded $18 million in compensatory and $1 billion in punitive damages to Alva Pilliod, and $37 million in compensatory and $1 billion in punitive damages to his wife, Alberta Pilliod. I mean, people smoke cigaretes, but right there on the label it says you know "may cause cancer". But it said its findings on the human health risks of the compound "are consistent with the conclusions of science reviews by many other countries and other federal agencies". The court didn't propose a ratio it felt correct, but said punitive damages should nearly never exceed nine times actual damages, it said. Bayer is appealing each of these verdicts. The punitive damages awarded Monday are 36 times the actual damages. Since acquiring Monsanto in a $63 billion deal, Buyer has inherited thousands of lawsuits over the weed killer.

Chairman Werner Wenning told shareholders at Bayer's annual general meeting in Bonn last month that company leaders "very much regret" falls in its share price.

The award was the latest in a series of court defeats for Monsanto over Roundup.

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