Pharmaceutical giant Bayer has been ordered to pay $2.25 billion to a man who developed cancer due to the Roundup weed killer, one of the products of its subsidiary Monsanto.
Jurors in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas found that the weed killer is to blame for 49-year-old landscaper John McKivison developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). Individuals affected by NHL often develop tumors, which are made up of white blood cells or lymphocytes, in different areas of their body. Given this finding, the jury ordered the German company to pay McKivision the aforementioned amount as compensation.
Of this amount, $2 billion comprises punitive damages while the remaining $250 million is for compensatory damages. According to Bloomberg Law, the $2.25 billion verdict is the largest in Roundup-related litigation.
“Monsanto has won 10 of 16 Roundup trials recently, but the cases it has lost include a $1.5 billion verdict in Missouri handed down in November  to three ex-users of the herbicide,” the outlet added. “In 2019, a California jury awarded a combineds $2.055 billion in damages to a husband and wife who claimed they got cancer from using the weedkiller for 30 years. That award was later cut to $87 million and allowed to stand by the U.S. Supreme Court.”
The company based in the German city of Leverkusen decried the Philadelphia court’s verdict in an emailed statement.
“We disagree with the jury’s adverse verdict that conflicts with the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence and worldwide regulatory and scientific assessments. [We] believe that we have strong arguments on appeal to get this verdict overturned, and the unconstitutionally excessive damage award eliminated or reduced,” the statement read.
Bayer acquired the Missouri-based Monsanto for $63 billion back in 2018. However, the German firm inherited the liabilities of its newly acquired subsidiary – leading many pundits to denounce the acquisition as “one of the worst corporate mergers in history.” (Related: Bayer’s acquisition of Monsanto to create agricultural monster with near-monopoly control over the world’s food supply.)
Bayer’s legal woes linked to Roundup are far from over
Most plaintiffs have alleged Roundup caused them to develop NHL. But according to Reuters, “Bayer has said that decades of studies have shown Roundup and its active ingredient, glyphosate, are safe for human use.” Despite this claim, around 165,000 reported claims in the U.S. alone stem from the weed killer – which means that the company’s legal battles are far from over.
The outlet continued that in 2020, Bayer settled most of the then-pending Roundup cases for up to $9.6 billion. However, it failed to get a settlement covering future cases – and more than 50,000 claims remain pending.
Bayer’s string of losses in 2023 produced verdicts against the company amounting to more than $2 billion. The German firm is appealing those verdicts, which include large punitive damages awards likely to be reduced as they exceed U.S. Supreme Court guidance, Reuters added.
“The losses had led some investors to question Bayer’s legal strategy in defending the Roundup cases. The company said in November that it would continue fighting the cases in court, and [that it] had ‘no appetite to write humongous checks’ to settle them.”
A Jan. 18 report by Bloomberg News revealed that company executives “were leaning against breakup options, including separating its consumer-health and crops-science divisions” because of investor frustration over Monsanto. Bayer later backtracked on this, saying that it was putting those plans aside for now to focus on internal reorganization.
Visit BayerApologize.com for more stories about Roundup-related lawsuits against the company.