Bayer AG promised to continue defending its Roundup product after losing a second attempt at claims that the fertilizer killer causes cancer. It suggests that the failed company is not ready to consider spending billions of dollars to resolve thousands of similar trials.
A jury in the US District Court in San Francisco was granted compensation damages of $ 5.3 million and penalties of $ 75 million to a 70-year-old man who became ill after spraying the herbicide on his property for decades. The verdict on Wednesday (March 27) follows a similar decision by a court in the jury last summer and comes as a third trial in Oakland, California.
The company continues to "strongly defend" the herbicide, which it feels safe to do, said spokesman Christian Hartel by phone from Bayer's headquarters in Leverkusen, Germany. It plans to appeal the latest verdict and does not see the ruling as a hacker for others because each trial has different factual and legal circumstances.
Some analysts disagree. "You can't continue to try cases after fall and continue to lose and say," We're not going to settle, "says Thomas Rohback, a lawyer at Axinn in New York. If Bayer continues to lose at trial, it must"
The main ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, is manufactured at the Monsanto Co. factory in Luling, on the western shore of St. Charles Parish.
Roundup became the German company's leading headache after acquiring Monsanto for about $ 63 billion in June, Bayer has lost more than 60 percent of its value since the transaction, and on Thursday its shares fell as much as 3.3 percent to 54.48 euros in Frankfurt, the lowest level of more than six years
The latest suit to be resolved was taken by Edwin Hardeman, who used the herbicide on his large plot of land in Sonoma County, about 60 miles north of San Francisco. As with the thousands of other consumers claiming Bayer, Hardeman claimed that his years of exposure to the chemical caused his non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
The jury found it to be a defect in Roundup that Bayer did not warn of the product's risks and that the company was negligent.
Some analysts have set up the prize for resolving trials over Roundup, filed by more than 11,200 people in the United States, to over $ 5 billion. Rohback said Bayer could run a "long game" based on a strategy to continue fighting in the hope of finding some plaintiffs it can beat.
"A new $ 80 million verdict against Bayer over allegations that its weed killer caused a consumer's cancer signals a fierce hit for the company in many of the 11,200 cases waiting in the US," said Holly Froum, a dispute analyst.
The Roundup judgment is the third largest product responsibility jury award in the United States so far in 2019, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The biggest verdict, for $ 151.8 million, was issued by an Alabama jury last month against Ford Motor Co., over an Explorer Rollover accident.
Bayer will not have the advantage in Oakland as it had in San Francisco. Hardeman's attempt was split into two parts, a legal expert said, giving the company the best chance of the evening scoring after losing the first Roundup trial last summer and finally being ordered to pay $ 78.6 million in damages.
Instead, the Oakland trial will allow lawyers to start lawyers at the beginning with their story of Monsanto Co.'s secret campaign to manipulate public opinion and bury evidence of Roundup's cancer risks.
Judges in the case of Hardeman first sat through weeks of scientific testimony to determine whether Roundup was a "major factor" for causing his disease before hearing any evidence that Monsanto ghostwrote influential studies and wrongly leaned on regulators. Bayer opposed scientific studies showing that the herbicide was safe and argued for the judge that malicious e-mails were removed from the context.
Hardeman sought more than $ 19 million in damages, including compensation for hospital bills and pain and suffering. His lawyers said that the sentence sends a message to Monsanto that it needs to change how it does business. "It speaks volumes that not a Monsanto employee, past or present, came to trial to defend Roundup's security or Monsanto's actions," said Aimee Wagstaff and Jennifer Moore in a statement.
Bayer's opponents in Oakland are Alva and Alberta Pilliod, a couple in the 70s who invoked a California law that provides scheduling to people who are sick. A basic shooter who won the first trial against Bayer in August invoked the same law. Bayer also appeals to Augustin's judgment.
If the losses continue, Rohback will say that Bayer's only justification for continuing to fight is whether the plaintiff's lawyers make unrealistic demands to settle the disputes. "At some point, you don't get much encouragement to move on with the same approach," he said.
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Story by Joel Rosenblatt, Robert Burnson and Tim Loh with contributions from Margaret Cronin Fish and Naomi Kresge.