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By Andrew Blankstein and Adiel Kaplan
A California jury has found that a popular weedkiller made by Monsanto likely caused cancer in a husband and wife and ordered the chemical giant to pay more than $2 billion in damages, twice what the plaintiffs’ attorney had requested.
It’s the largest payout and the third loss in a row for Monsanto in lawsuits alleging that Roundup, which includes the herbicide glyphosate, has caused or contributed to cancer — and there are approximately 11,000 suits pending across the country.
“Unlike the first two Monsanto trials, where the judges severely limited the amount of plaintiffs’ evidence,” attorney Michael Miller said, “we were finally allowed to show a jury the mountain of evidence showing Monsanto’s manipulation of science, the media and regulatory agencies to forward their own agenda despite Roundup’s severe harm to the animal kingdom and humankind.”
Alva and Alberta Pilliod of Livermore, California, were both diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. They had been using Roundup on residential properties since the 1970s, when Monsanto began to sell the product. The couple, who are both in their 70s, filed suit in state court.
After a five-week trial, the jury awarded $1 billion apiece to the Pilliods in punitive damages, plus another $55 million in damages.
Bayer, which bought Monsanto in 2018, said in a statement that the company is “disappointed with the jury’s decision and will appeal the verdict in this case,” and that there is a “consensus among leading health regulators worldwide that glyphosate-based products can be used safely and that glyphosate is not carcinogenic.”
Monsanto did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In 2018, Dewayne Johnson, a San Francisco groundskeeper, was the first of the thousands of people suing the company to go to trial. A state jury awarded him $290 million, which was later knocked down to $78.5 million by the judge. Monsanto has appealed the decision.
In March, a federal jury ordered Monsanto to pay $80 million to Edwin Hardeman, a 70-year-old man with cancer who had used the product for three decades on his 56 acres in Sonoma County, California. The jury found that Roundup was a “substantial factor” in his illness
The new verdict brings the total amount awarded to plaintiffs to more than $2.2 billion.
Andrew Blankstein reported from Los Angeles.