With Roundup’s ‘Cancer-Causing’ Chemicals on Trial Again, Another Nuclear Verdict Is Upheld in Court

A 2019 jury first awarded $85 million in damages against Bayer over its weed killer Roundup. In appeals court, a nuclear verdict is still upheld, though at a smaller price.
By: | July 31, 2021

A 2019 jury first awarded Edwin Hardeman $5 million in compensatory damages and $75 million in punitive damages after he sued chemical company Bayer over its weed killer Roundup.

Hardeman alleged that the extended use of the product directly resulted in his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

The punitive award was later cut to $20 million.

Over the course of several years, Bayer has been at the mercy of the courts over the chemicals used in its Roundup product. The chemicals in question are glyphosate-based herbicides, which, according to Bayer have been tested through several studies over decades of research.

The research, Bayer said, concludes glyphosate is safe for human use. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has even stated this as fact, as Bayer has pointed out in numerous proceedings. Yet, the company continues to face litigation and has, as of May 2021, committed $9.6 billion toward 125,000 claims over Roundup.

In the Hardeman case, Bayer took the verdict to appeals court.

In court, Bayer argued that Hardeman’s case should have never gone to trial in the first place. Hardeman’s argument was that Bayer failed to warn of Roundup’s cancer risks on the product label itself.

However, Bayer said, federal pesticide laws prevented the company from being able to include such marketing language on its products. Because the EPA has deemed glyphosate chemicals as safe for human use, Bayer was prevented from adding warnings.

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The appeals court did not find this to be a sound reason. It rejected Bayer’s argument, upholding the 2019 verdict.

Scorecard: Bayer is still on the hook for Edwin Hardeman’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma claim, though the final judgment is $25 million in compensatory and punitive damages — a quarter of the original $100 million award from 2019.

Takeaway: It’s another lesson in nuclear verdicts. Personal injury attorneys and consumer groups are on the lookout for products and other services that have harmed the public, and they’re ready to bring class action suits forward. Now’s the time to review coverages and get a plan in place. &

Autumn Demberger is the content strategist at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]

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The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected]