Historic $2 Billion Verdict

This week a jury in California awarded a record $2.055 billion verdict to a couple in their seventies who had used the weed killer Roundup in their yard for three decades. Both Alva and Alberta Pilliod of Livermore, California were diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma four years apart. Roundup contains a compound called glyphosate, which may cause cancer. The jury’s award was comprised of $55 million in compensatory damages, and $2 billion in punitive damages.

What is Glyphosate?

Glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in U.S. agriculture, and has been studied for decades. Glyphosate is used on more than 100 food crops. Non-agricultural uses include usage in residential areas, aquatic areas, forests, rights of way, ornamentals and turf. 

Experts are split as to whether glyphosate causes cancer in humans. The World Health Organization reported in 2015 that glyphosate “may” cause cancer. In contrast, the Environmental Protection Agency reported last month that “there are no risks to public health when glyphosate is used in accordance with its current label,” and indicated glyphosate is not a carcinogen. You can read the EPA’s finding here.

Bayer Will Appeal

Thousands of cases remain against Bayer, which is the parent company of Monsanto, which is the manufacturer of Roundup. Cases are pending on the state and federal levels. It should be of no surprise that the company’s lawyers are disappointed with the verdict. Bayer has appealed previous rulings in favor of plaintiffs, and will appeal the recent $2 billion award as well.

Moreover, the exact cause of non-Hodgkins’s lymphoma has not been pinpointed. However, several risk factors exist, as outlined by the American Cancer Society here. Certain risk factors may be changed, such as smoking, while others, such as age and family history, may not.

There is no doubt that, in light of the jury’s award, and its intent to punish Bayer, that the couple’s diagnoses were suspicious. A jury has determined that exposure to glyphosate caused their illnesses, and found that Bayer and Monsanto were negligent, and found their actions to be worthy of punitive damages. What do you think about this case and its historic monetary reward?

Scott Bonebrake is a personal injury attorney in Media, PA, and has been a licensed attorney for 24 years. Please feel free to contact Scott if you have any legal questions, including those regarding products liability. You can reach Scott at 610-892-7700, or at sbonebrake@noelandbonebrake.com.