A San Francisco jury has awarded $80 million to a man with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, determining Monsanto’s infamous glyphosate-based herbicide, Roundup – now owned by Bayer – caused his cancer.
The court also found Monsanto acted negligently, failed to warn customers of the cancer risk of glyphosate, and defectively designed its flagship weedkiller, awarding $5 million in compensatory damages and $75 million in punitive damages to Edwin Hardeman, a 70-year-old Sonoma man who developed non-Hodgkins lymphoma after spraying Roundup on his property for decades. The financial award followed a preliminary verdict last week that determined Roundup was a “substantial factor” in causing Hardeman’s cancer.
Monsanto engaged in deliberate, underhanded efforts to influence scientists and regulators concerning the safety of their product, Hardeman’s lawyers claimed, presenting internal documents to back up the allegations. In a statement released after the decision, they slammed the agribusiness giant for “manipulating public opinion and undermining anyone who raises genuine and legitimate concerns about Roundup.”
Since buying Monsanto for $63 billion last year, Bayer has been deluged with lawsuits from cancer victims encouraged by the results of the first Roundup-cancer trial, which awarded San Francisco groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson $289 million based on their finding that the popular herbicide was responsible for his non-Hodgkins lymphoma. While the award was reduced to $78 million on appeal, it opened the floodgates for thousands of similar cases, and there are more than 11,200 such lawsuits currently pending against the agrichemical conglomerate.
Bayer plans to appeal the latest verdict as well, putting a brave face on the looming tsunami of financial liability. “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,” the company said in a statement.
While a 2016 Environmental Protection Agency study found glyphosate had “low toxicity for humans,” that study is currently being reevaluated, and a group of EPA-linked scientists more recently found individuals with heavy Roundup exposure are 41 percent more likely to develop non-Hodgkins lymphoma than unexposed individuals. The World Health Organization classifies the weedkiller as “probably carcinogenic to humans,” while the state of California includes it on a list of chemicals “known to cause cancer.”