Pharmaceutical and biotechnology giant Bayer AG was ordered to pay $2.25 billion to a Pennsylvania man who developed cancer from its Monsanto subsidiary’s Roundup weed killer.

John McKivision reportedly developed non-Hodgkins lymphoma from using Roundup for several years.

Jurors in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas found that the weed killer caused the 49-year-old landscaper’s cancer.

The verdict includes $250 million in compensatory damages and $2 billion in punitive damages.

According to Bloomberg Law, the $2.25 billion verdict is the largest in litigation over Roundup.


More from Bloomberg Law:

Monsanto has won 10 of 16 Roundup trials recently, but the cases it has lost include a $1.5 billion verdict in Missouri handed down in November to three ex-users of the herbicide. The Bayer unit faces its next trial early next month in state court in Delaware.

The German conglomerate remains under intense pressure from the massive liability it inherited with its $63 billion acquisition of St. Louis-based Monsanto in 2018. Bloomberg News reported Jan. 18 that company leaders were leaning against breakup options including separating its consumer-health and crops-science divisions in spite of investor frustration over Monsanto.

“We disagree with the jury’s adverse verdict that conflicts with the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence and worldwide regulatory and scientific assessments, and believe that we have strong arguments on appeal to get this verdict overturned and the unconstitutionally excessive damage award eliminated or reduced,” Bayer said in an emailed statement.

In 2019, a California jury awarded a combined $2.055 billion in damages to a husband and wife who claimed they got cancer from using the weedkiller for 30 years. That award later was cut to $87 million and allowed to stand by the US Supreme Court.

With around 165,000 reported claims in the United States against Bayer regarding the weed killer, the company’s legal battles are far from over.

Most plaintiffs reportedly allege Roundup caused them to develop non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

From Reuters:

Bayer has said that decades of studies have shown Roundup and its active ingredient, glyphosate, are safe for human use.

Roundup is among the most widely used weedkillers in the United States, though the company phased out its sales for home use last year.

In 2020, Bayer settled most of the then-pending Roundup cases for up to $9.6 billion but failed to get a settlement covering future cases. More than 50,000 claims remain pending.

Last year’s string of losses produced verdicts against the company totaling more than $2 billion. Bayer is appealing those verdicts, which include large punitive damages awards that are likely to be reduced because they exceed U.S. Supreme Court guidance.

The losses had led some investors to question Bayer’s legal strategy in defending the Roundup cases. The company said in November that it would continue fighting the cases in court and had “no appetite to write humongous checks” to settle them.

The company had even considered a plan to break off its crop science business, in part due to concerns about Roundup liability, though it said earlier this month that it was putting those plans aside for now and focusing on internal reorganization.

Join The Conversation. Leave a Comment.

We have no tolerance for comments containing violence, racism, profanity, vulgarity, doxing, or discourteous behavior. If a comment is spam, instead of replying to it please click the ∨ icon below and to the right of that comment. Thank you for partnering with us to maintain fruitful conversation.