$80M Award: Roundup Causes Cancer

Another day, another verdict against RoundUp maker, Monsanto. This time, a jury in California awarded $80 million to a plaintiff claiming RoundUp Weed Killer caused his cancer.

Following trial, a jury awarded Edwin Hardeman both compensatory* and punitive** damages. Of the $80 million, the jury awarded $5 million in compensatory damages, and $75 million in punitive damages.

Hardeman used RoundUp products for years, before being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The jury found that Roundup was a substantial factor in causing Hardeman’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

This is the second time a jury found that RoundUp products are/were substantial factors in causing cancer. In August 2018, a different jury awarded another plaintiff $289 million (later lowered to $78 million by a judge). Monsanto appealed that decision.

For its defense, Monsanto has been relying on purported scientific proof that its product is safe. Its lawyers were "disappointed with the jury’s decision" and claimed that 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.”

For their part, the plaintiff's attorneys, reiterated that the verdict sends "a message loud and clear that companies should no longer put products on the market for anyone to buy without being truthful, without testing their product and without warning if it causes cancer.”

This trial was considered a "bellwether trial"*** and will have a significant impact on future claims that RoundUp causes cancer. In fact, currently, there are hundreds of lawsuits filed making similar allegations to those of the plaintiffs in the two cases. The finding of liability and large jury award will provide plaintiffs' attorneys with significant leverage when negotiating settlements of similar claims.

*Compensatory damages are awarded in civil cases to put an injured party in the same position it would have been if not for a defendant's negligence.

**Punitive damages are "punitive" in nature in that they are awarded as a deterrent and as punishment for a defendant's gross negligence and/or willful and wanton conduct.

*** Bellwether trial are "test trials" whose verdicts and awards are often used by both defense and plaintiff attorneys to decide whether cases should be settled or taken to trial.

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