Verdict In Fourth Roundup Cancer Trial, Plagued By Technical Difficulties, Finally Reached

Legal News

A jury in California returned a defense verdict on Dec. 9, handing Bayer AG its second consecutive win in Roundup cancer trials. 

The jury in San Bernardino County found that plaintiff, Donetta Stephens’ non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) was not caused by her exposure to glyphosate—the main active herbicidal ingredient in Roundup—between 1985 and 2017, Reuters reported

Bayer acquired Roundup’s inventor, Monsanto, for $63 billion in 2018. The deal was finalized just one month before the first Roundup cancer trial began. Within one year, Bayer/Monsanto lost the first three Roundup trials. In each of these trials, juries found that the plaintiff’s exposure to Roundup caused them to develop NHL. Plaintiffs were awarded tens of millions of dollars in each of the three trials. 

The coronavirus pandemic halted trials in 2020. In October, Bayer won its first Roundup trial when a jury found that a boy’s rare form of NHL was not caused by exposure to the controversial weed killer. This case was actually the fifth Roundup trial to have started. The fourth trial was that of Donetta Stephens, which returned the verdict for Bayer on Thursday. 

Stephens’ case was conducted via Zoom because of concerns posed by the deltra variant of the coronavirus. Plagued by technical difficulties, the trial dragged on, which is why the verdict was reached after the fifth Roundup trial had already concluded. 

“Despite everyone’s best efforts, it was impossible to try a coherent case via Zoom with our schedule,” said Fletch Trammell, Stephens’ attorney, per Reuters. “We plan to appeal and look forward to trying the case again in more favorable circumstances.”

Stephens sued Monsanto for negligence and failing to warn her of the dangers of Roundup.

Bayer is expected to petition the U.S. Supreme Court to review two of the three verdicts it has lost, including the case of the Pilliods, a California couple whose damage award of $87 million was upheld last month by the California Supreme Court. 

Should Bayer’s petition be accepted for review, and should the nation’s high court rule in favor of the Germany-based multinational, it could put an end to Roundup litigation. 

In the meantime, Bayer has settled approximately 95,000 out of 125,000 Roundup cancer lawsuits for nearly $11 billion. The company will replace glyphosate in its commercial herbicides by 2023, but the compound will still be used for agricultural uses, including spraying on farms and city parks.

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