Monsanto was hit with an $80 million verdict in the first federal bellwether trial accusing the agri-giant’s weed killer Roundup of causing non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system, Law360 reported. The California jury deliberated just one day after finding that Monsanto failed to warn that the active ingredient glyphosate in Roundup could cause cancer.
The jury awarded plaintiff Ed Hardeman, 70, $200,967 in economic damages, about $5 million in future and past noneconomic damages, and $75 million in punitive damages. Hardeman had sued Monsanto, which was acquired by Bayer AG last year, alleging that decades of using Roundup on his 56-acre property in Santa Rosa caused him to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma. In the first phase of the trial, jurors found that Roundup was the cause of Hardeman’s cancer, which moved the trial into the second phase where jurors were charged with determining Monsanto’s liability and damages.
Hardeman’s attorneys argued that Monsanto paid ghostwriters to write journal articles downplaying the risks of glyphosate, and misled federal regulators about the herbicide’s safety. Glyphosate is listed as a probable carcinogen by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer.
Hardeman’s case was the first to go to trial among about 700 similar lawsuits consolidated before U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in federal court. In August, the first state trial over similar claims resulted in a $289 million verdict in favor of a school groundskeeper who blamed Monsanto’s glyphosate-containing weed killers Roundup and Ranger Pro for causing his non-Hodgkin lymphoma. His award was later reduced to $78 million. Monsanto is appealing.
The next state case is scheduled to start Thursday. The next federal trial is scheduled for May 20, though Judge Chhabria said he may delay that trial based on the outcome of the state trial.