Late last week, a federal appeals court has upheld a $25 million verdict against the maker of RoundUp, a weedkiller linked to cancer.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an appeal by Monsanto Co., the manufacturer of the herbicide, ruling 2-1 that $20 million in punitive damages, “while close to the outer limits,” was constitutional.
Back in 2019, a jury awarded a California man, Edwin Hardeman, $5.3 million in compensation for his illness and $75 million in punitive damages because Monsanto had failed to warn users about the dangers of their product.
Hardeman would become the first person to prove in U.S. federal court that Roundup had caused his non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) – and that in the process, he would help uncover damning secrets about the manufacturer, Monsanto, and its influence in science and government, reports The Guardian.
According to Popular Resistance, Monsanto, trying to overturn the punitive damages award, said it could not have known that glyphosate caused cancer in 2012. But the 9th Circuit disagreed, noting that “various independent scientific studies linking glyphosate and cancer were released by 2012.”
The court’s verdict is a victory for Hardeman, others who have suffered, and activists who have fought to hold Monsanto and Bayer (who bought out Monsanto) accountable.
“It’s a slam dunk for plaintiffs. This proves these claims are viable in the tort system,” says Leslie Brueckner, an attorney with Public Justice who helped with Hardeman’s appeal.
As reported by Reuters, this ruling was the first by a federal appeals court in a case linking Roundup and cancer and Bayer had said the case had the potential to “shape how every subsequent Roundup case is litigated.” Bayer has said that decades of studies have shown Roundup and other glyphosate-based herbicides that dominate the market are safe for human use.