Alberta and Alva Pilliod who won $2 billion from Bayer after proving Roundup weed killer caused them to get cancer. Picture: Supplied
Alberta and Alva Pilliod who won $2 billion from Bayer after proving Roundup weed killer caused them to get cancer. Picture: Supplied

Record $2 billion verdict in weed killer cancer case

A California couple was awarded more than $US2 billion ($A2.9 billion) in damages after a jury agreed that the Roundup weed killer they had been using for more than three decades had caused them to get cancer.

The New York Post reports that the verdict is the third legal defeat in a row for Monsanto, Roundup's parent company, which was acquired by Bayer last year.

Alva and Alberta Pilliod, of Livermore, were both diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma following years of weed killer use, their lawyers say.

In their suit, they accused Monsanto of "fraudulently representing that Roundup is safe despite scientific evidence linking exposure to NHL."

From left, Alva Pilliod, lawyer Brent Wisner, Alberta Pilliod and lawyer Michael Miller appear at a news conference after being awarded a huge damages payout. Picture: AP
From left, Alva Pilliod, lawyer Brent Wisner, Alberta Pilliod and lawyer Michael Miller appear at a news conference after being awarded a huge damages payout. Picture: AP

A jury in San Francisco Superior Court in Oakland found the company liable after a seven-week trial - citing its active ingredient, glyphosate, as the underlying cause of the cancer.

"They were given an incredibly difficult task having to analyse the highly-complex scientific issues in this case," said co-lead trial counsel R. Brent Wisner, of Baum Hedlund Law, in a statement after the verdict.

"The jury saw for themselves internal company documents demonstrating that, from day one, Monsanto has never had any interest in finding out whether Roundup is safe," he explained. "Instead of investing in sound science, they invested millions in attacking science that threatened their business agenda … They took detailed notes, asked incredibly thoughtful questions and in the end, came to understand that the science shows there are serious health hazards associated with Roundup and that Monsanto did nothing to warn people about the risk."

The first two legal defeats for Monsanto saw verdicts of $US289.2 and $US80 million, according to Hedlund Law. Michael Miller, who served with Mr Wisner as co-lead trial counsel, said the couple was able to get more this time around due to a more lenient court process.

"Unlike the first two Monsanto trials, where the judges severely limited the amount of plaintiffs' evidence, 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," Mr Miller said.

Investors have been rocked by the verdict with shares falling more than 2% on Tuesday. Stocks in Bayer have fallen more than 45% over the past year.

It said in a statement the company said it was "disappointed with the jury's decision" and would appeal the verdict.

According to CNN there are "thousands" of more cases to come against the chemical giant.

Containers of Roundup are displayed on a store shelf in San Francisco. Picture: AP
Containers of Roundup are displayed on a store shelf in San Francisco. Picture: AP

Verdicts against Monsanto in the Roundup cancer litigation now stand at $US2.424 billion - with 13,400 cases still pending in state and federal courts, according to Hedlund Law.

"Mounting evidence suggests that exposure to Monsanto's Roundup weed killer increases the risk of developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a blood cancer that starts in cells called lymphocytes, which are part of the body's immune system," the law firm says on its website. "The problem is that Monsanto marketed Roundup as being a safe product for decades, even though the company allegedly knew that a Roundup cancer link existed, along with and a host of other serious health issues. A number of Roundup cancer studies have confirmed that glyphosate exposure is a probable cause of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and other cancers."

 

This article originally appeared in the New York Post and is republished here with permission



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