Bayer AG was ordered to pay more than $2 billion in damages to a California couple that made that claim that they contracted cancer as of a result of using its Roundup weed killer for more than thirty years.
The jury award is the largest in the U.S. this year and the eighth-largest ever in a product-defect claim. This third Roundup court loss comes just two weeks after shareholders disavowed Werner Baumann, C.E.O. for the way that he has handled the $63 billion Monsanto Co. Bayer vowed to challenge Monday’s ruling, calling it “excessive and unjustifiable.” Bayer has defended the safety of Roundup’s active ingredient glyphosate since inheriting the product from Monsanto.
Bayer vowed to challenge Monday’s ruling, calling it “excessive and unjustifiable.” Bayer has defended the safety of Roundup’s active ingredient glyphosate since inheriting the product from Monsanto. The Oakland, California jury issued their verdict after two other California trials over the herbicide that brought in combined damages of $150 million against the German company. This summer Bayer will begin to defend against similar claims in a Missouri court.
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.
Alva and Alberta Pilliod’s exposure to Roundup came by way of the couple’s residential landscaping efforts. In addition to $1 billion for each spouse, The jury went on to award the couple $55 million for their medical bills as well as 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.
Currently, Monsanto has been named the defendant in similar lawsuits filed in the U.S. by more than 13,400 plaintiffs.
The Pilliods’ lawyer urged jurors to punish the company for covering up the health risks of the herbicide for decades. Brent Wisner told the panel his punitive damages request was roughly based on the gross profit of $892 million recorded in 2017 by Monsanto’s agricultural-chemicals division. After the verdict, the attorney said the evidence showed that “from day one, Monsanto has never had any interest in finding out whether Roundup is safe.”
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