Bayer AG spent weeks telling jurors that the weed killer Roundup was scientifically proven to be safe to consumers, but it would take a lot more than science to convince the jury. “I wanted you to get up and drink it,” a juror told a Bayer attorney after delivering a mind-blowing $2.055 billion verdict in the latest trial accusing Roundup of causing cancer – the eighth-largest product liability verdict in U.S. history.
The trial involved the case of Alva and Alberta Pilliod, who claimed that using Monsanto’s Roundup on their properties for decades caused them both to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Roundup contains the active ingredient glyphosate, which the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer listed, in 2015, as a probable carcinogen. Bayer, which acquired Monsanto last year, insisted its herbicide was safe.
The jurors deliberated for two days before finding in favor of the Pilliods, awarding them each $1 billion in punitive damages and an additional $55 million in non-economic and economic damages. When asked why they chose to punish Bayer with such a steep verdict, one juror replied that they wanted Bayer to “take us seriously.” A lesser verdict, they said, wouldn’t carry as much weight.
This is the third of about 13,400 Roundup lawsuits that has gone to trial, and the third to result in a major verdict against the company. The first, which ended in August 2018, resulted in a $289.2 million award for a school groundskeeper with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The award was later reduced to $78.5 million. The second trial, which ended in March, resulted in an $80 million verdict against Bayer.
Investors are preparing themselves for a possible global settlement, which analysts speculate could be as high as $5 billion. But some experts say that Bayer will continue to fight in hopes of better leveraging itself before beginning settlement talks.
The next Roundup trials are scheduled to begin this summer in St. Louis, Missouri.
Beasley Allen is investigating cases involving non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma related to the commercial application of Roundup/glyphosate. For more information, contact John Tomlinson, Rhon Jones or Grant Cofer in our Toxic Torts Section.