A California appeals court on Monday upheld an $86 million verdict against The Monsanto Company, a subsidiary of German pharmaceutical and life sciences company, Bayer AG. The decision comes amidst a number of lawsuits filed against Monsanto, which Bayer inherited as the parent company.
The suit was filed in 2019 by a couple, Alberta and Alva Pilliod, who claimed that the Monsanto product “Roundup” is responsible for their non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma diagnoses.
Roundup is a common product used both industrially and residentially to kill weeds. The Pilliods contended that the ingredient glyphosate, found in Roundup, causes cancer and is responsible for a number of cancer diagnoses.
After a six-week trial, the jury awarded the Pilliods approximately $56 million in compensatory damages, $2 billion in punitive damages but the Pilliods agreed to a substantially reduced total award of $86 million.
Monsanto argued on appeal that the Pilliods’s claims are “preempted by federal law” and that the jury’s findings are “not supported by substantial evidence.”
Additionally, Monsanto raised procedural errors on the part of the trial court such as improper jury instructions, legally and factually flawed causation findings, wrongly admitted evidence, and attorney misconduct.
The appeals court rejected Monsanto’s arguments and agreed with the jury’s finding that there was substantial evidence to conclude that exposure to Roundup was responsible for the Pilliods’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma diagnoses.
Bayer plans to further appeal the verdict and maintained that Roundup is safe when used properly. However, Bayer is likely to face additional legal actions related to Roundup, as courts and individuals contend with existing health concerns surrounding the product.