Jury Rules that Monsanto is Liable for California Man’s Cancer

San Francisco, CA—A federal jury ruled that Monsanto/Bayer was liable for Edwin Hardeman’s cancer, and ordered the company to pay Hardeman $80 million in damages.

This was part of a trial presided over by Judge Vince Chhabria, who required the trial to be held in two phases: The first phase was to decide whether or not Roundup caused Hardeman’s non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL); the second was to decide whether or not Monsanto was responsible, if so. The first phase ended with a unanimous decision that, yes, Roundup caused Hardeman’s NHL; now, according to The Guardian, it has ruled that “Roundup’s design was “defective,” that the product lacked sufficient cancer warnings, and that Monsanto was negligent in its failure to warn Hardeman of the NHL risk.”

The Guardian quoted a statement from Hardeman’s lawyers, saying: “As demonstrated throughout trial, since Roundup’s inception over 40 years ago, Monsanto refuses to act responsibly. It is clear from Monsanto’s actions that it does not care whether Roundup causes cancer, focusing instead on manipulating public opinion and undermining anyone who raises genuine and legitimate concerns about Roundup.” The statement echoes a procedural order given by Judge Chhabria during the first phase of the trial.

USA Today noted that Hardeman’s trial has the potential for great significance: Judge Chhabria is overseeing hundreds of Roundup lawsuits, and has deemed Hardeman’s case and two others “bellwether trials.”

USA Today quoted Nathan Donley, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, who told the paper in a statement that “Moral responsibility for any harm caused by the pesticide should be shared by the EPA regulators who ignored independent science and failed to protect Americans from this dangerous toxin.”

According to The Guardian, Bayer has continued to argue that Roundup is safe. Bayer’s attorney, Brian Stekloff, told the jury before the verdict that their decision that “Monsanto, consistent with the science, consistent with how the science was being viewed around the rest of the world, did act responsibly.”

The Guardian added a quote from a statement made by Bayer: “The verdict does not change the weight of over four decades of extensive science and the conclusions of regulators worldwide that support the safety of our glyphosate-based herbicides and that they are not carcinogenic.” The Guardian also noted that the World Health Organization’s international agency for research on cancer ruled that glyphosate was “probably carcinogenic to humans” in 2015, although the EPA has deemed glyphosate safe for use.

Reuters reported that Bayer’s shares hit a low they haven’t seen in nearly 7 years. Reuters quoted Bryan Garnier analyst Jean-Jacques Le Fur as saying, “Even if Monsanto/Bayer may win some cases, there is great uncertainty about the number of victories and defeats. That is why we expect Bayer to try to settle the remaining cases.”