Judge upholds Jury finding that Roundup

causes cancer but reduces level of award

by John Reid

Bayer AG has failed to persuade a judge in California to overturn the finding of a jury that it was responsible for manufacturing a product which caused cancer to a former school groundskeeper who had used the product ( Roundup) over a period of time.

However, as expected, the judge did reduce the award, from $289m to a mere $78.6m. San Fransisco Superior Court judge Suzanne Ramos Bolanos rejected Bayer's arguments that the jury had no basis to conclude that the herbicide caused the Plaintiff's cancer.

Bayer , again not unexpectedly, has said that it will further appeal this ruling. The manufacturer of the product, Monsanto, was acquired last year by Bayer AG. The judge said , in relation to quantum, that the jury's award of punitive Damages at seven times the size of the compensatory award was not justified. The jury had awarded compensation of $39.3m and a further $250m for concealing the dangers of the product. The judge said instead the ratio of compensatory to punitive damages should be one to one. The Plaintiff has until 07/12/18 to say if he will accept the revised award. If he does not, Bayer can have a retrial on the issue of punitive Damages.

Bayer is adamant that the key ingredient in the product, glyphosate, is safe and has been accepted as so by regulators both in Europe and the USA. The product was first approved in 1974, and the Plaintiff says exposure to it over a period of time led to him developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Roundup is the most widely used herbicide in the world, so the consequences and outcome of this litigation are of obvious significance for Bayer and it’s insurers.

The judge said that the Plaintiff’s expert witnesses did not have to exclude every other possible cause of the plaintiff’s illness, in the absence of any other substantial evidence of it’s cause. The jury was entitled to conclude that a product such as Roundup was a substantial factor in causing the cancer. Shares in Bayer fell in value upon news of the verdict. At least 8500 claims are pending, with further Trials scheduled in St Louis and San Fransisco.

If you require any further detail or advice, please contact John Reid in O’Rourke Reid
Dial: +353 1 240 1200
Email: jreid@orourkereid.com

This document is for information purposes only and does not purport to represent legal advice.  
© O’Rourke Reid 2018