by Josh Taylor

This week, a California jury awarded one of the largest verdicts in history to a married couple who sued Monsanto (and its parent company, Bayer) for its product Roundup’s role in developing non-Hodgkins lymphoma.  The $2 billion verdict is the latest in a string of enormous verdicts against Monsanto, which was recently acquired by Bayer.  Two other recent verdicts stemming from the company’s seeming ignorance of using glyphosate in the weed killer without truly knowing its cancer-causing effects have amounted to another $150 million bill for Bayer.

While the $2 billion verdict, comprised of $55 million in compensatory damages and the vast remainder for punitive damages, will likely be knocked lower by the judge, the mounting societal anger against companies that disregard safety for profit is more than tangible.  That anger against Monsanto stems from its use of glyphosate, one of the most widely used herbicides in the world.  In this case, the jury saw mountains of evidence showing that Monsanto tried to obscure and obstruct scientific analysis of use of the chemical in its popular weed killer, Roundup.

What’s next for Bayer?

The latest verdict proves that Bayer and Monsanto are in for an expensive several years.  In fact, several thousands of other Roundup cases are in various stages of litigation currently.  Thus, personal injury and products liability attorneys have already been hard at work for affected clients.  However, this latest verdict speaks volumes about the reactions of juries to the overarching evidence of Monsanto’s antagonistic apathy toward their products’ potential harms.  Attorneys with potentially weak Roundup cases or lacking certain key evidence may still end up filing given the overall timbre of the litigation so far.

Arguably, the large verdict came because of the judge more liberally accepting evidence than in the first two cases, but when examining cases on a scale of tens of millions to billions in plaintiffs’ verdicts, even the lower end of that scale should be appealing enough to file.  As Bayer’s appeals and other litigation plays out in the coming months, personal injury attorneys should have an eye on the process and an ear to the ground for clients claiming cancer or death caused by Roundup.  The extensive reach of the product could see plaintiffs from each and every small town and city.

Besides being knocked down substantially by a judge, the couple will not see a cent of the award while the case is appealed by Bayer, a process that could take several years.