A Missouri jury has ordered Bayer to pay $1.56 billion to four plaintiffs who allege the company’s Roundup weedkiller caused them harm including cancer, a ruling that will intensify investor pressure on the German chemical company to change its legal strategy.
A jury in Cole County, Missouri, ruled Friday that Bayer-owned Monsanto is liable on charges of negligence, design defects, and failure to warn plaintiffs of the potential dangers of using Roundup, according to court documents.
Valorie Gunther of New York, Jimmy Draeger of Missouri, and Daniel Anderson of California were awarded $61.1 million in compensatory damages and $500 million each in punitive damages.
They were each diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which they say was caused by the use of Roundup on their family property. Draeger’s wife Brenda was awarded $100,000 for damages she allegedly suffered due to her husband’s illness.
Punitive damages can be reduced on appeal because they exceed US Supreme Court standards.
Bayer stated that decades of studies have shown that Roundup and its active ingredient, glyphosate, are safe for human use.
The verdict is Bayer’s fourth consecutive defeat in court after the company was found not liable to the plaintiffs in nine consecutive trials. Earlier this month, Union Investment, one of Bayer’s top 10 shareholders, asked the company to consider trying to reach a settlement with the plaintiffs to resolve several lawsuits.
Bart Rankin, a partner at Forrest Weldon, which represents the plaintiffs, said in a statement that the victory is the first of many for thousands of plaintiffs. Bayer said in a statement that it has strong arguments to get the recent rulings overturned on appeal.
He said that in recent cases against the company, the courts have improperly allowed the plaintiffs to misrepresent the European Union’s renewal process for glyphosate and the US Environmental Protection Agency’s safety assessment.
The European Commission said last week that it will renew the approval of glyphosate based on safety assessments by the European Food Agency and the European Chemicals Agency, after EUmembers failed to comment clearly on the change.
About 1.000 lawsuits have been filed against the company for personal injuries allegedly caused by Roundup, which Bayer acquired as part of its $63 billion purchase of agrochemical company Monsanto in 2018.
In 2020, Bayer settled most of the pending Roundup lawsuits for up to $10.9 billion. About 50,000 claims remain pending, according to regulatory filings.