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Bayer to Appeal Verdict in Glyphosate Case

In a stunning verdict that could have far-reaching consequences for companies across the country, a court awarded plaintiff, Dewayne Johnson, $289 million in damages in his lawsuit against Bayer, the company that recently acquired Monsanto. The plaintiff alleged that he developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after exposure to Monsanto’s flagship product, Roundup. The court ruled that the company did not properly warn the plaintiff and other consumers of the risk of cancer posed by Monsanto’s weed-killer. As anticipated, Bayer has requested that the verdict be overturned.

According to the complaint, Mr. Johnson developed cancer after using Roundup for years in the course of his employment as a school groundskeeper. In motions filed in San Francisco’s Superior Court, Bayer alleged that the jury verdict was not adequately supported by the plaintiff’s evidence. The company claimed that the verdict does not comport with decades of research and data that have concluded that glyphosate does not lead to cancer in humans. Bayer further stated that the plaintiff’s evidence did not substantiate that the product caused the plaintiff’s disease under the standards set forth by state law.

Indeed, the research on the effects of glyphosate is contradictory. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a long-term analysis of the impact of glyphosate showed that it is not likely a cancer-causing chemical. In contrast, the World Health Organization in 2015 stated that glyphosate is “probably” carcinogenic.

Bayer requested that the judge who oversaw the trial set aside the verdict, reduce the award, or allow for a new trial. On October 10, a hearing took place to consider the motion. Bayer stated that it would consider appealing the verdict if those other measures fail.

Approximately 8,000 lawsuits have been brought against Monsanto alleging that glyphosate in its weed-killer caused cancer in consumers who used or were exposed to the product. Mr. Johnson’s claim was the first to be heard in court. The next trial will begin in early October in St. Louis. Cases that have been filed in federal court have been combined to form a class action in California.

Grimaldi Law Offices has been advising clients for over 20 years on chemical and product law. For knowledgeable advice and in-depth analysis on your Proposition 65 compliance obligations, contact Grimaldi Law Offices at (415) 463-5186 or email us at [email protected].

Ms. Grimaldi maintains a diverse environmental law practice focusing on chemical and product regulation and litigation defense. Her practice areas include Proposition 65, California's Safer Consumer Products Regulations, California's Rigid Plastic Packaging Container Act and the federal Toxic Substances Control Act. Ms. Grimaldi graduated from the University of California Hastings College of the Law magna cum laude and holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Bacteriology from University of California, Davis. Prior to attending law school, she worked as a research assistant in laboratories at the University of California, San Francisco Cancer Research Institute and at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine.