A federal appeals court has upheld a US$25M judgement and trial verdict finding that German chemical giant Bayer’s Roundup weedkiller caused a California resident’s non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Reuters reported on 15 May.
The decision by the 9th US Court of Appeals in San Francisco on 14 May is a blow to Bayer’s hopes of limiting its legal risk over the product, according to the report.
The company inherited the lawsuits following its 2018 purchase of global agrochemical firm Monsanto for US$63bn.
Bayer’s argument that lawsuits like Edwin Hardeman's should not go to trial because federal pesticide laws barred allegations that the company failed to warn of Roundup's cancer risks had been rejected by the court, the news agency wrote.
“This proves these claims are viable in the tort system,” Leslie Brueckner, an attorney with Public Justice who helped with Hardeman's appeal was quoted as saying.
Bayer had not immediately responded to a request for comment, Reuters said.
A jury in 2019 had awarded Hardeman US$5M in compensatory damages and US$75M in punitive damages in the first federal case to go to trial, Reuters said, with the punitive award later cut to US$20M and the appeals court also upholding the reduction.
The latest ruling was the first by a federal appeals court in a case linking Roundup and cancer with Bayer saying the case had the potential to “shape how every subsequent Roundup case is litigated”, according to Reuters.
Bayer denies claims that Roundup or its active ingredient glyphosate causes cancer, saying decades of independent studies have shown the product is safe for human use.
The company has argued that regulators have prevented it from adding a warning to the product’s label, according to the report.
Roundup is used by farmers in combination with Bayer’s genetically modified seeds.
Bayer had committed US$9.6bn to settle 125,000 claims over Roundup, Reuters wrote, and was also seeking preliminary approval for a proposed deal to resolve future legal claims through a class action.
Lawyers and consumer groups opposed the plan, which they said limited the rights of Roundup users to take legal action.
In an earlier report, Reuters wrote that a court in Mexico had struck down Bayer’s legal challenge over its ban on glyphosate.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador had issued a decree late last year seeking to ban the herbicide completely by 2024, joining several other governments that had sought to restrict its use, including Germany, Reuters said.
However, last month a Mexican court had given Bayer a temporary relief from a looming ban on the widely used herbicide, the report said.
In the latest decision, the country’s Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources said in a 3 May statement that it had “revoked” the provisional suspension, Reuters wrote.
Bayer had not immediately responded to a request for comment, the report said.