Bayer asks California appeals court to throw out US$78M Roundup verdict

German life sciences company Bayer AG has asked California’s Court of Appeal to throw out a verdict ordering it to pay US$78M to a school groundskeeper who claimed the company's weed killers gave him cancer, Reuters reported on 24 April.

In a court filing, Bayer said that there was "no evidence" that glyphosate, a chemical found in the company's Roundup and Ranger Pro herbicides, could cause cancer.

The weed killers are made by US biotech firm Monsanto, which Bayer acquired last year for US$63bn.

Bayer said that if the appeal court did not rule in its favour, it should at least order a new trial, arguing that a lower court judge had improperly prevented jurors from hearing evidence that the US Environmental Protection Agency and foreign regulators had deemed glyphosate not likely carcinogenic to humans, Reuters wrote.

Dewayne Johnson sued Monsanto in 2016. In August 2018, a jury in San Francisco found that Monsanto’s Roundup and related glyphosate-based brands presented a substantial danger to people using them, and that there was “clear and convincing evidence” that Monsanto’s officials acted with “malice or oppression” in failing to adequately warn of the risks.

The jury awarded Johnson US$39M in compensatory damages and US$250M in punitive damages, but this was cut to a total judgement of US$78M in October.

Bayer faces more than 11,000 US lawsuits over glyphosate. On 27 March, the US District Court in San Francisco awarded 70-year-old Edwin Hardeman damages of US$80.3M after ruling that Roundup had been a substantial factor in giving him non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The trial was the first US ‘bellwether’ or test case consolidating more than 760 Roundup cases into one.

Glyphosate is the world’s most widely used herbicide, with 826M kg/year of the chemical sprayed around the world, according to the Guardian newspaper.