Bayer Ordered to Pay $3.5 Million in Latest Roundup Weedkiller Trial

By Brendan Pierson | December 6, 2023

Bayer was ordered on Tuesday to pay nearly $3.5 million by a Philadelphia jury that found the company’s Roundup weedkiller caused a woman’s cancer, the company said, the latest in a string of trial losses for the company as it tries to fend off thousands of similar lawsuits.

The verdict in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas marks the fifth consecutive loss for Bayer, but it is much smaller than recent verdicts against the company that total more than $2 billion. The German conglomerate has faced pressure from some investors to reach a speedy settlement of the litigation in order to avoid further hefty trial verdicts.

The verdict, which came after a three-week trial and two days of jury deliberations, includes $462,500 in compensatory damages and $3 million in punitive damages. The jury was split 10-2.

“We disagree with the jury’s divided verdict and the modest damages award 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,” Bayer said in a statement.

A lawyer for the plaintiff, Pennsylvania resident Kelly Martel, did not immediately comment.

Bayer has been hit with much larger verdicts in similar cases in recent months, including a $1.56 billion award in November for three plaintiffs.

The company has said those trials were marred by procedural errors and has vowed to appeal. The punitive damages portions of those awards could be reduced because they exceed U.S. Supreme Court guidance.

Plaintiffs have attributed their current winning streak to growing scientific support for their cases, while Bayer has blamed judges’ rulings allowing what it calls misleading testimony to be introduced at trials. The relatively small verdict is unlikely to send a clear signal either way to investors who have questioned Bayer’s legal strategy in defending the Roundup cases.

Like most plaintiffs in Roundup cases, Martel alleged in the most recent case that she developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a form of cancer, from exposure to the product. Bayer argued at trial that Martel’s cancer was more likely caused by her smoking.

Bayer has said that decades of studies, and regulators around the world, have found Roundup and its active ingredient, glyphosate, are safe for human use. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has concluded that glyphosate likely does not threaten human health, but was ordered by a federal appeals court last year to revisit that decision.

The World Health Organization’s cancer research agency concluded in 2015 that glyphosate was likely capable of causing cancer. It did not reach a conclusion about whether it posed a risk under real world conditions of use.

Bayer said in early November it would remain very selective when considering settlements of Roundup cases and reassured investors in a call in late November that it has reserves to deal with the litigation. The company has set aside about $6.5 billion for that purpose.

Around 165,000 claims have been made against the company for personal injuries allegedly caused by Roundup, which Bayer acquired as part of its $63 billion purchase of U.S. agrochemical company Monsanto in 2018.

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.

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.