Jury awards $2 billion to Livermore couple who says Roundup caused cancer

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A California jury has ordered Monsanto to pay more than $2bn to a couple that got cancer after using its weedkiller, marking the third and largest verdict against the company over Roundup. A California jury has awarded $2.055 billion to Alva and Alberta Pilliod of Livermore, California.

Bayer, Monsanto's parent company, released a statement claiming that the couple had "long histories of illnesses known to be substantial risk factors for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma" and countered allegations that an active ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, has been linked to cancer. The couple has used the herbicide since the 1970s.

It awarded $18 million in compensatory and $1 billion in punitive damages to Alva Pilliod, and $37 million in compensatory and $1 billion in punitive damages to his wife, Alberta Pilliod. In March, a federal jury in San Francisco granted $80 million to Edwin Hardeman of Santa Rosa.

The state court jury in Oakland concluded that Monsanto's weed killer caused the non-Hodgkin's lymphoma Alva Pilliod and Alberta Pilliod each contracted.

They filed their lawsuit in 2017 after being diagnosed with cancer in 2011 and 2015, respectively.

"Unlike the first two Monsanto trials, where the judges severely limited the amount of plaintiffs' evidence, we were finally allowed to show a jury the mountain of evidence showing Monsanto's manipulation of science, the media and regulatory agencies to forward their own agenda despite Roundup's severe harm to the animal kingdom and humankind", said attorney Michael Miller, who was co-lead trial counsel along with Wisner.

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The ruling marks the third time since August 2018 that a USA jury has found glyphosate to be a cause of cancer. At its recent annual meeting, a shareholder revolt ensued, with more than half of the shareholders voting against absolving management for its decision to acquire the St. Louis-based seed and pesticide company.

Hardeman's lawyers said the elderly man developed non-Hodgkin's lymphoma after using Roundup to spray his properties for nearly three decades. Both are in remission but testified about lasting damage from the cancer.

Plaintiffs in the litigation allege that Monsanto had known about the herbicide's cancer risk for decades, but failed to warn consumers and instead attempted to influence scientists and regulators to receive favorable assessments of its products.

Lawsuits are largely based on a 2015 conclusion by the World Health Organization's cancer arm, which classified glyphosate as "probably carcinogenic to humans". People who are not farm workers or groundskeepers are being exposed to the cancer-causing chemical.

The award was the latest in a series of court defeats for Monsanto over Roundup.

The company noted that none of the California verdicts has been considered by an appeals court and that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers the weed killer safe.

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