US jury awards over US$80M in Roundup cancer case

A 70-year-old Californian resident has been awarded more than US$80M in damages after a jury ruled that Roundup, the weedkiller produced by German pharmaceutical group Bayer, had been a ‘substantial factor’ in giving him non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

The US District Court in San Francisco awarded Edwin Hardeman compensatory damages of US$5.3M and punitive damages of US$75M on 27 March.

The trial was the first US “bellwether” or test case aiming to reach a large-scale resolution over glyphosate-based Roundup. More than 760 of the 11,200 Roundup cases in the USA had been consolidated in Hardeman’s case.
Last year, California groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson was awarded US$78M in damages and another Roundup trial was under way in Oakland, California, Bloomberg said.

A spokesman for Bayer – which acquired Monsanto last June for US$63bn, along with its Roundup brand – said the company would continue to vigorously defend the herbicide, which it considered safe.

The company planned to appeal the latest verdict and did not view the ruling as a harbinger for others as each trial had different factual and legal circumstances, according to the Bloomberg report.

Bayer had lost more than 60% of its value since acquiring Monsanto and some analysts had put the prices of settling lawsuits over Roundup at more than US$5bn, Bloomberg said.

Hardeman’s lawyers had argued that his years of exposure to Roundup had been a substantial factor in causing his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

The jury in his case found that Bayer had failed to warn of the product’s risks and had acted with negligence.