Maker of Popular Weed Killer Hit with Massive $2 Billion Guilty Verdict After Elderly Couple’s Cancer Diagnosis

Photo of Roundup on shelves.Mike Mozart via Flickr

A jury just awarded a California couple $2 billion in their suit against Bayer-owned Monsanto. It is third the judgement issued against Roundup, the weed killer, and the largest award of its kind.

Alva and Alberta Pilliod sued the company over the product, proving that the chemical caused their cancer. Each of them was awarded $1 billion in punitive damages and a total of $55 million in compensatory damages in court.

However, it is believed that amount will be cut due to U.S. Supreme Court caps on how damages are calculated. Bayer is expected to appeal the decision.

The Pilliods were each diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lyphoma in 2011, and 2015, respectively. They’d used Roundup for thirty years (since the ‘70s) around their property to kill weeds before their cancer diagnoses.

According to Reuters, the jury found the company liable on several fronts:

“Roundup had been defectively designed, that the company failed to warn of the herbicide’s cancer risk and that the company acted negligently.”

Bayer, who was already in the pharmaceutical and crop chemicals business, acquired Monsanto in 2018 for roughly $65 billion. When news of the takeover hit, it sent the company’s shares soaring. Since the verdict was announced, its stock was delivered a major blow, signifying the public’s growing distrust of the chemical behemoth.

In light of the judgement, Bayer insists that the Pilliods had existing health problems that contributed to their cancer and cite the EPA’s position that Roundup is a safe chemical. They do not believe that there is a connection between cancer and the product.

At the center of these court cases is the herbicide ingredient glyphosate, which was determined by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer to be a probable carcinogen.

In contrast, the EPA released a statement on their website in April 2019 upholding their position on the use of glyphosate:

“EPA continues to find that there are no risks to public health when glyphosate is used in accordance with its current label and that glyphosate is not a carcinogen.”

Sonny Perdue, the current Secretary for the Department of Agriculture also stated, “If we are going to feed 10 billion people by 2050, we are going to need all the tools at our disposal, which includes the use the glyphosate. USDA applauds EPA’s proposed registration decision as it is science-based and consistent with the findings of other regulatory authorities that glyphosate does not pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans.”

The Pilliods’ case represents one of three recent judgements handed down in California against the company for Roundup. Last year, a former groundsworker with terminal non-Hodgkins lymphoma was also awarded millions of dollars.

Currently, Monsanto is facing more than 13,000 lawsuits around the country over Roundup and its connection to cancer. The news is giving people pause.

While it has not been confirmed, there have been some reports that Costco will no longer be selling Roundup products. Petitions have been launched encouraging other retailers such as Home Depot and Lowe’s to pull the herbicide from the shelves.

To learn more about the Pilliods and additional Monsanto-related court cases, watch the video below.

What are your thoughts on this verdict? Do you know anyone who had a similar lawsuit against the company over their chemicals?