On July 18, 2019 a California judge announced a tentative ruling saying she will reduce the $2 billion award against Bayer AG, which was awarded to a couple who both developed NHL cancer after using Bayer’s glyphosate-based weed killer Roundup on their properties for decades. The $2 billion award was the largest to date among the three Roundup cases – all of which had plaintiffs diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after using Roundup – that have gone to trial.
The Alameda County Superior Court Judge, Winifred Y. Smith, said that a $2 billion award exceeded the legal precedent and would most likely be reduced to around $250 million. The case will go to a retrial if parties do not agree on a new amount. In response to the announcement, Bayer released a statement saying “the court tentative order proposes changes in the damage awards, which would be a step in the right direction.” At this time, Bayer continues to deny Roundup causes cancer and asserts that it is safe for human use.
This is not the first time that Bayer has had luck in getting a Roundup plaintiff’s winnings reduced. The Judge’s announcement came just three days after Reuters reported that another U.S. District Judge reduced the punitive winnings of Roundup plaintiff Edwin Hardeman from $75 million to $20 million. In his ruling, the judge acknowledged that while Monsanto should be punished for putting people in harm’s way, the punitive damages should not be over four times greater than the compensatory damages ($5.27 million), especially “in the absence of evidence showing the intentional concealment of a known or obvious safety risk.”
In the first Roundup case, a jury awarded school groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson $289 million in his trial against Monsanto. The $289 million winnings were later reduced to $78 million. If the announced tentative changes are made, this will mean that all three Roundup cases that have gone to trial will have seen a reduction in the plaintiff’s award to conform with local jurisdictional caps. But even at these numbers it shows RoundUp is a huge issue and needlessly put profits over people. Bayer is set to begin a fourth trial in St. Louis beginning this summer. We will cover the same here as the trial unfolds.
A partner with Childers, Schlueter & Smith, LLC,, Brandon Smith has devoted his practice to pharmaceutical litigation, mass torts, products liability and serious personal injury. A frequent guest speaker at legal seminars all over the country—Brandon is focused on helping injured victims nationwide, however possible. Named a SuperLawyer again in 2019, he has also been called out as one of 10 Best Attorneys For Georgia by the American Institute Of Personal Injury Attorneys and a Top 100 Lawyer in Georgia by the National Trial Lawyers in 2019.