The latest lawsuit alleging a connection between Roundup and a California man’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is heading into its second phase after a jury unanimously determined that the weed killer was a “substantial cause” of the disease. The federal judge presiding over the case said that the lawyers for the plaintiff, 70-year-old Edwin Hardeman, first had to convince jurors that using Roundup was a significant factor in his cancer before they could make arguments for damages.
This case could set the tone for the hundreds of pending lawsuits related to Roundup and its maker, Monsanto, which is now owned by Bayer. With a sizable payout in court here after the second phase, lawyers for other plaintiffs will be motivated to pursue their cases in court rather than settle them. Legal experts said a jury verdict in favor of Hardeman and the other test plaintiffs would give their attorneys a strong bargaining position in any settlement talks for the remaining cases before U.S. Judge Vince Chhabria, The Associated Press noted.
Although nearly all scientific bodies and associated research have affirmed the safety of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, the Hardeman case isn’t the first time a jury has bucked the science. Last year, a jury in San Francisco initially awarded another man $289 million, but the judge later slashed the punitive damages levied against Monsanto in that case to $39 million, down from $250 million (and left another $39 million in compensatory damages intact). In that case, the jury said that the company deliberately failed to warn consumers or regulators about the product’s risks. Monsanto has appealed.
After the Hardeman decision late Tuesday, Bayer released a statement expressing disappointment in the jury and affirming the product’s safety record:
Bayer’s full statement on the jury’s verdict in California glyphosate multi-district litigation trial to be posted shortly. Link to follow. pic.twitter.com/ei9PWM02uV
— Bayer US (@BayerUS) March 19, 2019
For the second phase of the Hardeman trial, arguments will focus on whether Monsanto is liable and if so, for how much.