Monday, 20 May, 2019

USA jury awards $2bn damages in Roundup weedkiller cancer claim

Jury awards couple $2 billion in damages after ruling that Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller caused their cancer Monsanto must pay couple $2bn in largest verdict yet over cancer claims
Ginger Lawrence | 14 May, 2019, 07:12

A California jury on Monday awarded more than $2 billion to a couple who claimed Bayer AG's glyphosate-based Roundup weed killer caused their cancer, in the largest USA jury verdict to date against the company in litigation over the chemical.

Bayer said it plans to appeal Monday's verdict.

Bayer released a statement on its Twitter page after the jury's verdict in California and has repeatedly said that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, is safe. His wife Alberta was awarded another $37 million in compensatory and $1 billion in punitive damages.

It comes after a landmark court ruling in the U.S. saw Monsanto ordered to pay hundreds of millions of dollars for causing a man's cancer.

An Alameda County Superior Court jury ruled against Monsanto in another lawsuit claiming that its popular herbicide, Roundup, causes cancer.

It is the third case to go before a jury, according to the couple's lawyers. In that case, the jury said that the company deliberately failed to warn consumers or regulators about the product's risks.

Bayer and Monsanto have continued to argue that Roundup is safe to use and does not cause cancer.

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The ruling marks the third time since August 2018 that a United States jury has found glyphosate to be a cause of cancer. In the first, school groundskeeper Dewayne "Lee" Johnson was ultimately awarded $78.5 million. Both of them are now in remission, but their trial had been expedited due to the risk of a relapse and potentially short life expectancy.

While it was a "risky move" to ask for an award of more than $1 billion, the three verdicts against Bayer show jurors are convinced by evidence against the company, said Anna Pavlik, senior counsel for special situations at United First Partners in NY.

But Bayer now faces more than 13,400 USA lawsuits over Roundup's alleged cancer risk.

Bayer denied the allegations.

FILE PHOTO: The Bayer AG logo sits on display at the headquarters in La Garenne-Colombes, near Paris, France, May 13, 2019. "Bayer must also wonder if Monsanto deployed the same underhanded tactics during their courtship that courtroom disclosures have shown permeated its corporate culture: deep deception, prevarication and denial in a headlong pursuit of profit, human and environmental consequences be damned".

A 2017 Reuters investigatihere found that the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer had dismissed and edited out "non-carcinogenic" findings that were at odds with its final conclusion that the chemical probably causes cancer. The company cited the continuing approval of glyphosate by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and "the consensus among leading health regulators worldwide that glyphosate-based products can be used safely and that glyphosate is not carcinogenic, and the 40 years of extensive scientific research on which their favorable conclusions are based".