The former Northern California groundskeeper who won a massive Roundup®-cancer lawsuit against Monsanto (now a part of Bayer), has accepted the reduced $78 Million verdict after San Francisco Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bolanos slashed the original $289 Million in damages. Reached in August, the jury’s original verdict was for $39.25 Million in compensatory damages, and $250 Million in punitive damages.
After reviewing the case, Judge Bolanos stated that according to California state law, punitive damages are not allowed to be higher than compensatory damages, and accordingly, she evened the 2 amounts to $39.25 Million each. “In enforcing the due process limits,” she said, “the Court does not sit as a replacement for a jury, but only as a check on arbitrary awards.”
The 46-year-old plaintiff, who worked in a San Francisco school district as a groundskeeper and a pest-control manager, often sprayed the weed-killer Roundup to maintain the school grounds. Glyphosate, Roundup’s key ingredient, has been linked to cancer by studies conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO). The California man sued Monsanto in June, claiming the weed-killer had caused his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Due to his terminal illness, his trial was fast-tracked. At this time, it is not expected he will live much longer.
Glyphosate: Is the Key Ingredient in Roundup Deadly?
First registered for pesticide use in the U.S. in 1974, glyphosate has been around for a long time and has been the subject of numerous studies for determining its health effects. Designed to effectively kill broadleaf plants, grasses, and other pests, the chemical is used in regulating unwanted plant growth. According to the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC), glyphosate is one of the most widely used herbicides in the U.S. due to its high-volume use in agriculture.
Numerous studies have found glyphosate to be a probable carcinogen, including a prominent study conducted by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is a branch of the WHO.
In Roundup lawsuits against Monsanto, plaintiffs have argued that in addition to the toxicity and probable carcinogenic nature of glyphosate, there is also “a synergistic effect” that occurs when glyphosate is mixed with the other active ingredients in the weed-killer. This, it has been alleged, is what amplifies the carcinogenic nature of glyphosate.
Over the last several years, thousands of lawsuits have been filed against the maker of Roundup, all of which allege the chemical amalgamation in Roundup led its users to develop illnesses and cancer, and even caused their death.
Bayer Poised to Keep Fighting with Only Its Bottom Line in Mind
Bayer Chief Executive Officer, Werner Baumann, said this week that the company would entertain the idea of settling all Monsanto Roundup lawsuits, but that the decision would depend on how high the court costs would amount to. As stated by Baumann:
“If we can settle nuisances at some point where the defense costs in preparing cases are higher than potential settlement amounts, we will of course consider it from an economic standpoint… Due to our exposure as a pharmaceutical company, we have the experience to defend those [glyphosate] cases.”
Of course, putting economics first – above all else – and settling liability claims is not a new tactic for the Big Pharma company. Baumann cited previous pharmaceutical and medical-device claims against Bayer when discussing how the company might handle the pending 8,700 Roundup lawsuits that have yet to see court. Baumann referenced the “inexpensive” $12 Million settlement over its contraceptive device, Mirena.
No doubt such a sentiment is disheartening to say the least, when one considers the sheer volume of men and women who have been life-alteringly injured by Bayer and Monsanto products. Baumann never mentioned those people, instead, his statements only reflected the age-old corporate agenda of profits first, people second.