Bayer unit Monsanto has lost its ‘winning streak’ of nine defence verdicts, and the company plans to appeal

A San Diego jury has ordered Bayer unit Monsanto to pay $332 million (£274 million) in damages to a non-Hodgkins lymphoma patient who claimed his cancer was caused by its glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup. That 31 October jury verdict came just a few days after a jury in Philadelphia ruled that the company should pay $175 million in damages to another man with the same type of cancer, and a decision from a St. Louis jury just a week earlier to award $1.25 million in damages to a third individual with the same type of cancer, holding the company liable for their diseases as well. 

The trio of developments comes several years after three large plaintiff verdicts in California, followed by a Monsanto ‘winning streak’ of nine defence verdicts, explains Wylie Blair, a lawyer who represented the plaintiff in St. Louis.

Brent Wisner, managing partner at the law firm Wisner Baum, who won a $2 billion Roundup cancer verdict against Monsanto in 2019, calls the most recent $175 million verdict ‘a tremendous result’. He says it’s clear that Bayer needs to put together a global settlement that resolves ongoing similar cases. ‘If they keep fighting … they run the risk of larger future verdicts,’ he tells Chemistry World.

While the three large awards against Bayer–Monsanto a few years back were ultimately significantly reduced by trial judges and appeals courts, the damages were still substantial, Wisner notes. ‘When you start seeing big verdicts again, like the two new ones, it emboldens other plaintiffs’ lawyers,’ he adds.

Meanwhile, Bayer issued a statement saying that it ‘respectfully’ disagrees with the most recent $175 million verdict, noting that it was a divided decision. The company expressed confidence that it can get that verdict overturned and the damages reduced through an appeal.

The article was updated on 2 November 2023 to make clear that the awards in recent decisions were made by juries not judges.