The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco upheld a lower court’s verdict that handed Edwin Hardeman a $25 million award for having developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, allegedly caused by glyphosate—the active ingredient in Roundup Weed Killer—and other active ingredients.
Over 125,000 Roundup cancer claims have been filed against Monsanto. When Bayer AG acquired 2018 for $63 billion, the German pharmaceutical giant would inherit Roundup litigation, including Hardeman’s suit, which was the first Roundup lawsuit to go to trial in federal court.
No other Roundup case has gone to trial in a federal court, which means this marks the first time a federal appeals court has linked Roundup and cancer.
Hardeman’s lower court victory was the second of three Roundup suits to reach trial. The first and third cases, both of which were filed in California lower courts, also resulted in multiple-million-dollar awards for the plaintiffs.
Bayer, according to reporting by Reuters, argued that Hardeman’s case never should have gone to trial because federal pesticide laws barred allegations that the company failed to warn of Roundup’s cancer risks.
But the 9th rejected the argument and consequently, Leslie Brueckner, an attorney with Public Justice who worked on the appeal, told Reuters, “It’s a slam dunk for plaintiffs,” adding, “This proves these claims are viable in the tort system.”
Initially awarded $75 million in punitive damages in the lower court ruling, Hardeman had his punitive damage award reduced to $20 million. He was also awarded $5 million in compensatory damages; the $25 million judgement was upheld by the appeals court.
In June 2020, Bayer announced a $10 billion settlement to resolve the bulk of the 125,000 Roundup claims.
More recently, the company announced a $2 billion plan to settle any future claims. That plan has been met with much scrutiny by Roundup plaintiffs and their attorneys.
And now that the 9th has sided against Bayer, it gives opponents of the future Roundup settlement plan—which puts a halt to Roundup litigation for four years and caps compensation at $200,000 for class members—more ammunition to reject Bayer’s plan, which will either be approved or rejected next week.