OAKLAND, CA. – A jury in California awarded more than $2 billion in damages to a husband and wife in their lawsuit alleging that Roundup caused them to develop cancer. The verdict represented the largest handed down yet in ongoing litigation against the maker of Roundup, Monsanto, and its parent company, Bayer AG.
The jury in Oakland’s Alameda County Superior Court found Monsanto liable to the tune of $55 million in compensatory damages and $2 billion in punitive damages. The couple alleged that they both developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma from using the weed killer Roundup, which they said was defective and should have carried a warning about its potential to cause cancer.
The large verdict came less than a year after another California jury awarded $289 million to a man who also alleged that exposure to Roundup caused him to contract non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The judge overseeing the case reduced the award to $78 million, and Monsanto is in the process of appealing. The future of the latest verdict is uncertain, as well, with rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court holding that punitive damages cannot be more than nine times compensatory damages.
Monsanto will also undoubtedly appeal this decision, as a company spokesperson commenting after the verdict labeled it “excessive” and “unjustifiable.” Despite three major verdicts against it in California to date, Monsanto continues to defend the safety of its herbicide, saying settled science does not support the conclusion that glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup) causes cancer.
Monsanto’s claims run counter to a 2015 finding from the World Health Organization that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic.” The company is currently facing more than 13,000 lawsuits over the safety of its weed killer, the majority of which are pending in a multidistrict litigation created to handle the caseload.
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