CARLSBAD, Calif. – A California jury has dealt another major blow to Monsanto and its parent company Bayer, awarding $332 million to a Carlsbad man who developed a rare form of cancer after using the company’s popular Roundup weedkiller for decades.
57-year-old Mike Dennis was diagnosed in 2020 with a rare type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma which he claims was caused by prolonged exposure to Roundup’s key ingredient, glyphosate.
The San Diego Superior Court jury agreed, finding on Tuesday that Monsanto failed to provide adequate warnings about the herbicide’s cancer risks.
Landmark Ruling Comes Amidst Mounting Roundup Cancer Lawsuits
The landmark ruling represents yet another setback for Monsanto in its ongoing legal battles over Roundup, which remains the most heavily used agricultural chemical in the world despite mounting concerns about its safety.
Over the last several years, multiple juries have ruled in favor of plaintiffs who developed cancer after regularly spraying Roundup.
Thousands of similar cancer claims are still pending against the company, which was acquired by German pharmaceutical giant Bayer for $63 billion in 2018.
Just two years later, Bayer agreed to pay up to $10.9 billion to settle close to 125,000 filed and unfiled Roundup suits. The company continues to maintain that glyphosate is safe and does not cause cancer.
Jury Finds Monsanto Failed to Warn of Cancer Risk
In awarding the massive sum to Mr. Dennis, the California jury concluded that Monsanto had enough evidence of Roundup’s carcinogenic effects and should have provided warnings to consumers like him who sprayed the herbicide regularly.
While the jury did not find the product design to be defective, nor Monsanto negligent, it determined the lack of cancer warnings was enough to hold the company liable.
“The jury found that Monsanto, which is now a division of pharmaceutical giant Bayer, failed to provide warnings of Roundup’s risks,” explained Adam Peavy, an attorney for the plaintiff. “But jurors also ruled partially in Bayer’s favor by finding the product design wasn’t defective and the company wasn’t negligent.”
Use of Roundup Led to Rare Form of Lymphoma, Doctors Say
Mr. Dennis, a Carlsbad resident, used Roundup extensively for over three decades before developing a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2020.
According to his physicians, the cancer is conclusively linked to such prolonged glyphosate exposure. While Mr. Dennis has been in remission for nearly three years after undergoing treatment, doctors say there is currently no known cure for his condition.
“His doctors have told him it’s going to come back and we’re just waiting to see if that happens,” said Peavy.
Jury Awards $332 Million in Compensatory and Punitive Damages
In deciding to award the massive sum, the jury granted Mr. Dennis $7 million in compensatory damages to account for his medical bills, lost wages, physical and mental suffering, and other losses stemming from his cancer diagnosis and treatment.
He was additionally awarded a staggering $325 million in punitive damages meant to punish Monsanto for its conduct and deter similar behavior, bringing the total figure to $332 million.
Bayer Vows to Appeal ‘Unfounded’ Verdict
Bayer has strongly denied any wrongdoing and plans to appeal the jury’s decision.
“There were significant and reversible legal and evidentiary errors made during this trial,” the company said in a statement. “We have strong arguments on appeal to get this unfounded verdict overturned and the unconstitutionally excessive damage award eliminated or reduced.”
Nonetheless, Tuesday’s $332 million ruling serves as yet another reminder of the major legal liability Bayer faces after acquiring Monsanto, with potentially tens of thousands of additional cancer claims still in the pipeline.
The company insists that glyphosate is not carcinogenic and that Roundup can be used safely, but critics say the mass litigation paints a far different picture.
Growing Backlash Over Roundup Safety
Bayer’s continued defense of Roundup flies in the face of a growing scientific consensus about the health risks of glyphosate, which has been classified as a “probable carcinogen” by the World Health Organization.
The chemical has already been banned or restricted in several countries, and pressure is mounting on U.S. regulators to take a similar approach. Multiple studies have linked Roundup to various cancers, though Bayer insists the evidence is inconclusive.
California in particular has been at the forefront of efforts to regulate glyphosate more heavily in light of health concerns. The state now requires cancer warnings on Roundup sold to consumers, over Monsanto’s objections that such labeling is unjustified.
The recent $332 million judgment shows California juries taking an increasingly harsh view of Monsanto’s efforts to conceal Roundup’s potential carcinogenic effects. Mr. Dennis’ attorneys say the massive punitive damage award is reasonable given the company’s conduct.
With some 20,000+ additional Roundup cases pending in U.S. courts, the litigation outlook remains highly uncertain for Bayer. But it’s clear that mounting legal and regulatory pressure will continue to pose major financial and reputational risks for the pharmaceutical giant in the years ahead.