Bayer ordered to pay $2bn in new US Roundup trial

Bayer ordered to pay $2bn in new US Roundup trial

A jury in the U.S. state of California has ordered Bayer-owned Monsanto to pay more than two billion dollars in damages to a couple that sued on grounds the weedkiller Roundup caused their cancer.

This is the third verdict against Monsanto in Roundup cases and the biggest so far.

"By now, most Bayer executives, its board and shareholders must all be questioning the decision to acquire Monsanto and its mounting liability over its cancer-causing weedkiller", Cook said.

Bayer, the parent company of Monsanto, insists that glyphosate - the key ingredient in Roundup - is safe. The couple has used the herbicide since the 1970s.

The verdict will be vulnerable to a legal challenge by Bayer because courts have generally held that punitive damages shouldn't be more than 10 times higher than compensatory damages.

In March, a jury in San Francisco awarded $80m to another Californian man after finding that Roundup had caused his cancer.

Seventy-six-year-old Alva and 74-year-old Alberta Pilliod used Roundup for about 30 years for residential landscaping, which the jury believed played a "substantial factor" in their development of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Michael Miller, another attorney for the couple, noted that the judge in this case permitted the legal team to present significant evidence about Monsanto's conduct, in contrast to previous trials, where evidence was severely limited. "They took detailed notes, asked incredibly thoughtful questions and in the end, came to understand that the science shows there are serious health hazards associated with Roundup and that Monsanto did nothing to warn people about the risk".

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The Oakland jury today delivered Monsanto's third such loss in California since August. Bayer has now lost three trials in a row over claims Roundup causes cancer. In the first, school groundskeeper Dewayne "Lee" Johnson was ultimately awarded $78.5 million. Both are in remission but testified about lasting damage from the cancer.

Bayer said it was "disappointed" in the decision and would appeal.

Plaintiffs in the litigation allege that Monsanto had known about the herbicide's cancer risk for decades, but failed to warn consumers and instead attempted to influence scientists and regulators to receive favorable assessments of its products.

Bayer denied the allegations. "A number of Roundup cancer studies have confirmed that glyphosate exposure is a probable cause of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and other cancers".

FILE PHOTO: The Bayer AG logo sits on display at the headquarters in La Garenne-Colombes, near Paris, France, May 13, 2019.

The award was the latest in a series of court defeats for Monsanto over Roundup.

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 argued that the ruling runs against what the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has said most recently about the chemical.

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