Monsanto Hit With $2 Billion Verdict in Third Roundup Lawsuit Trial
After less than two days of deliberations, a jury has ordered Monsanto to pay a California couple more than $2 billion in damages. The verdict marks Monsanto’s third loss in court in less than a year. More than 13,000 Roundup injury lawsuits are still pending in courts across the country.
Couple Sues Monsanto After Cancer Diagnoses
In 2011, Alva Pilliod was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The cancer began in his bones and spread to his pelvis and spine. Four years later, his wife Alberta was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Her cancer was concentrated in the brain. The couple, who are now in their 70s, attribute their devastating diagnoses to Roundup weed killer. They used the pesticide regularly for more than four decades to keep their property in pristine condition.
After learning that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, contributes to cancer, the couple filed a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer. The lawsuit not only accused Monsanto of knowingly marketing a defective product but also intentionally misleading the public about the dangers of its product.
The Pilliod’s case was the third Monsanto Roundup injury lawsuit to go to trial.
Plaintiffs Awarded $2 Billion in Punitive Damages
The jury presiding over the Pilliod’s case listened to 17 days of testimony from both sides. It took less than 48 hours to return a multi-billion dollar verdict in favor of the plaintiffs.
The award includes $55 million in compensatory damages to cover past and present economic and non-economic damages. This can help to cover medical bills and lost wages while also compensating the couple for their emotional distress and suffering.
The award also includes $1 billion in punitive damages for each spouse. In order to award punitive damages, the jury had to find that Monsanto “engaged in conduct with malice, oppression or fraud committed by one or more officers, directors or managing agents.”
The jury’s decision was likely based in large part on internal documents highlighting the company’s decades-long campaign to hide the dangers of Roundup. Among other things, the documents reveal that Monsanto:
- Spent millions to finance and ghostwrite scientific studies to support the claim that Roundup is safe
- Never conducted or authorized epidemiology studies to assess the cancer risk of Roundup
- Asked the EPA to delay glyphosate toxicity reviews, and
- Colluded with EPA officials to downplay the risks of glyphosate.
Monsanto’s internal safety recommendations urged its own employees to wear heavy-duty protective gear while using Roundup. No such recommendation has even been extended to the public. This, alone, may have been enough to convince the jury that Monsanto knew its product was dangerous to human health.
In total, Monsanto has been ordered to pay $2.055 billion to the Roundup-injured couple.
Appeal Likely to Follow
After the verdict was announced, Bayer immediately expressed its disappointment in the result. The company vowed to appeal the decision, which it has done following all of its losses in court. An earlier appeal was successful. There, a judge reduced a $276 million jury award, citing excessive punitive damages. It’s possible that this most recent verdict will be reduced, as well.
However, the outcome remains the same. Juries continue to conclusively find that (a) glyphosate causes cancer and (b) Monsanto is responsible for harm caused by Roundup because it has prioritized profit over human health.
Bayer Ordered to Mediate Outstanding Roundup Cases
A judge has ordered the company to attempt to resolve the outstanding Roundup injury lawsuits through mediation. There, the company will sit down and try to negotiate a settlement to put the rest of the lawsuits to bed. The fact that the company continues to lose in court should benefit the remaining plaintiffs.
Plaintiffs can refuse to accept settlement offers if they believe that they’re going to get more from a jury. In order to minimize its losses, Bayer will have to extend a settlement offer that fully compensates individuals who’ve been harmed because of Roundup. In the meantime, other ROundup injury cases are scheduled to proceed in courts around the nation.