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Roundup (Glyphosate) Cancer Cases: Key Documents & Analysis

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(Scroll down to see documents. See our Roundup Trial Tracker for detailed updates.)

On June 24, 2020 Bayer AG said it will pay more than $10 billion to settle tens of thousands of U.S. claims brought against Monsanto over claims Roundup and other glyphosate herbicides sold by the company cause a type of cancer called non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).  The proposed resolution came two years after Bayer bought Monsanto for $63 billion and one year after U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria ordered Bayer/Monsanto to enter into mediation with plaintiffs’ attorneys. The settlement has been mired in difficulties, and drawn complaints from plaintiffs who have been waiting years for either a day in court or compensation. While many law firms have reached settlement agreements with Bayer, many others have not as of March 2021. 

Federal court updates 

According to Bayer’s June 2020 announcement, the company was to pay $10.1 billion to $10.9 billion total to resolve roughly 75 percent of the claims by an estimated 125,000 people who allege exposure to Monsanto’s weed killers caused them to develop NHL. The deal includes plaintiffs who have retained attorneys with the intent to sue but whose cases have not yet been filed, Bayer said.  A payment of $8.8 billion to $9.6 billion was earmarked to resolve the current litigation. 

Bayer is proposing to pay $2 billion to implement a detailed program that would handle potential future claims. The settlement is designed to compensate people who have been exposed to Roundup products and either already have NHL or may develop NHL in the future, but who have not yet taken steps to file a lawsuit.

The company first proposal for handling future claims was rejected by Judge Chhabria over concerns that included Bayer’s effort to establish a science panel to determine whether or Monsanto’s glyphosate-based herbicides cause non-Hodgkin lymphoma in place of jury decisions on that question. 

In February 2021 Bayer and a group of lawyers working with Bayer filed a new proposal with Chhabria’s court aimed at handling future claims, but that plan drew immediate widespread opposition from trial attorneys around the United States, who alleged if implemented it would 

Bayer’s decision to settle the litigation followed three U.S. trials, one in federal court and two in state courts. The federal trial was  the case of Edwin Hardeman V. Monsanto. That trial was bifurcated at the request of Monsanto, limiting evidence jurors  heard during a first phase to causation only. On March 19, 2019 a unanimous jury decision handed a first-round victory to Hardeman, as the six jury members found that Hardeman’s exposure to Roundup was a “substantial factor” in causing his non-Hodgkin lymphoma. On March 27, 2019 the jury returned a verdict of approximately $80 million, including punitive damages of $75 million.  Judge Chhabria reduced the punitive damages awarded Hardeman to $20 million from $75 million, putting the total award at  $25,313,383.02.   Court/discovery documents are posted below for Edwin Hardeman V. Monsanto. 

Click here for additional documents pertaining to combined MDL cases

Discovery documents  

Read internal Monsanto documents   As part of the discovery process during the litigation that preceded the settlement, Monsanto had to turn over millions of pages of its internal records. The Monsanto Papers and other court records are shared below, including documents regarding the company’s ghostwriting of an important paper published in the year 2000, and how the company used that “independent” scientific literature to promote and defend its herbicides. 

State court updates 

Thousands of plaintiffs have made similar claims against Monsanto in state courts. The first trial in the Roundup litigation concluded on Aug. 10, 2018 with the jury ruling that Monsanto’s weedkiller was a substantial contributing factor in causing DeWayne “Lee” Johnson’s cancer, and ordering Monsanto to pay $289.25 million in damages, including $250 million in punitive damages. The judge reduced the punitive damages to $39 million in an order dated Oct. 22, 2018 which put the total verdict at approximately $78 million. Monsanto appealed, seeking to throw out the judgment, while Johnson cross appealed, seeking to reinstate the jury award. The California 1st District Court of Appeal sided with Johnson in finding there was ample evidence to prove his cancer was caused by exposure to Monsanto’s herbicides, but the court lowered his damage award to $20.5 million.  Bayer paid Johnson in late 2020. 

The most recent trial was Pilliod V. Monsanto. On May 13, 2019, jurors returned a verdict awarding Alva and Alberta Pilliod $2 billion in punitive damages and $55 million in compensatory damages. The judge in the case then cut the total verdict to $86.7 million. Pilliod v. Monsanto was the first case in the California Roundup Judicial Council Coordination Proceedings (JCCP) and the third Roundup cancer case to proceed to trial.  Monsanto appealed the verdict to the California 1st District Court of Appeal.   The case number A158228. 

The Pilliods filed a cross-appeal. See details at this link.

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