SAN FRANCISCO – Monsanto, pushing back against a swell of lawsuits from users of its Roundup weed killer, is asking the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse the verdict in Hardeman v. Monsanto. The company argues the district court admitted expert testimony rife with flaws and allowed the jury to put faith into unreliable medical theories.
Last March, a jury awarded Edwin Hardeman $80.27 million after finding that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, contributed to the Bay Area resident developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Damages were later reduced to $25.27 million, but in December, Bayer, which purchased Monsanto in 2018, asked the Ninth Circuit to reverse the verdict altogether.
Thousands have sued Monsanto over its use of glyphosate, but this is the first case to go to federal appeal.
"Hardeman's suit should never have gone to the jury because his expert opinions on the central issue in the case – whether glyphosate caused his illness – should not have been admitted," Bayer said in a statement provided to the Northern California Record.
In the statement, Bayer said the court allowed testimony "selectively relying on flawed epidemiology studies" that have been scoffed at by health organizations around the world. The company said Hardeman's experts ignored that nearly three-quarters of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma cases that have no known cause and that Hardeman had other risk factors for the disease.
The Environmental Protection Agency and health organizations in Europe, Asia, Australia and Canada have found glyphosate does not cause cancer, but Hardeman’s case relied on the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which classified it as a potential carcinogen.
“The district court made a serious error by admitting IARC’s classification of glyphosate and compounded the error by refusing to allow Monsanto to admit evidence of the worldwide regulatory consensus rejecting IARC’s conclusion,” the statement said. “This left the jury with the mistaken impression that IARC’s and EPA’s conclusions were equally valid, despite the fact that virtually every regulatory agency that studied the issue … had expressly rejected IARC’s determination.”
Attempts to reach Hardeman’s attorney via email were unsuccessful.