OAKLAND – An Alameda County Superior Court jury ruled against Monsanto on Monday in the company’s third case in which the plaintiffs alleged that its product caused their cancer, awarding a Bay Area-couple more than $2 billion in damages.
Plaintiffs Alva and Alberta Pilliod alleged that glyphosate, the active chemical within Roundup, was a substantial factor in causing their non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) and that the company failed to warn its customers of the dangers that its product posed.
The couple, both in their 70s, alleged they used Roundup around several Bay Area properties for three decades before stopping in 2016 when they became aware of a possible link between glyphosate and NHL.
Bayer, which purchased Monsanto last year, released a statement following the verdict:
“Bayer is disappointed with the jury’s decision and will appeal the verdict in this case, which conflicts directly with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s interim registration review decision released just last month, the consensus among leading health regulators worldwide that glyphosate-based products can be used safely and that glyphosate is not carcinogenic, and the 40 years of extensive scientific research on which their favorable conclusions are based.
“We have great sympathy for Mr. and Mrs. Pilliod, but the evidence in this case was clear that both have long histories of illnesses known to be substantial risk factors for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), most NHL has no known cause, and there is not reliable scientific evidence to conclude that glyphosate-based herbicides were the ‘but for’ cause of their illnesses as the jury was required to find in this case.”
The Pilliods were awarded the largest payout so far with upward of 11,000 similar cases to follow. They follow Dewayne Johnson, who was awarded $78.5 million in damages last year, and Edwin Hardeman, who was awarded $80.5 million in damages earlier this year.
During last week’s closing arguments, plaintiffs’ attorney Brent Wisner told the jury to “Go get ‘em.” He based the amount of punitive damages being sought by his clients – $1 billion each – on what he said was Roundup’s annual profit of $892 million in 2017.
“I’m not saying you have to award a billion dollars in punitive damages, but it’s something you should seriously consider,” said Wisner, the Northern California Record previously reported. “This isn't about giving a billion dollars to the Pilliods. They don't need it…it’s about taking money away from Monsanto. They can afford it, and they need to pay.”
Following the jury’s verdict, Wisner said in a statement as reported by the New York Times, “The jury saw for themselves internal company documents demonstrating that, from Day 1, Monsanto has never had any interest in finding out whether Roundup is safe.”