Monsanto will have to pay millions of dollars to a California man who developed cancer after he had been allegedly exposed to the weed killer Roundup.
A U.S. jury awarded 70-year-old Edwin Hardeman over $80 million in compensation for his claim that his exposure to Monsanto's popular herbicide caused him to develop the malignant disease.
In their verdict, the jurors said the agrochemical company failed to provide enough warning regarding the potential health risks of using the glyphosate-based Roundup.
Monsanto will pay the Sonoma County resident $75 million in punitive damages and an additional $5.2 million in compensatory damages.
Hardeman's Lawsuit Against Monsanto
Hardeman had been using Monsanto's Roundup to kill off invasive plants that have been encroaching into his property for over 20 years. In February 2015, he was informed by doctors that he had developed non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
In his complaint, Hardeman alleged that his illness was a direct result of his years-long exposure to Monsanto's weed killer. He said the company either knew or should have known that its product could cause such effects.
The Sonoma County resident blamed the herbicide maker for failing to give consumers enough warning about the dangers that Roundup posed to human health.
Hardeman's lawsuit is just one of many ongoing cases filed against Monsanto regarding the potential carcinogenic effects of its glyphosate-based products. More than 1,600 plaintiffs have complaints in the U.S. District Court in California's Northern District.
Following the verdict, Hardeman said he felt "overwhelmed," and that the result of his lawsuit has not "sink in yet."
Meanwhile, Hardeman's legal counsel Aimee Wagstaff and Jennifer Moore welcomed the jury's decision.
"As demonstrated throughout trial, since Roundup's inception over 40 years ago, Monsanto refuses to act responsibly," the lawyers said.
"Today, the jury resoundingly held Monsanto accountable for its 40 years of corporate malfeasance and sent a message to Monsanto that it needs to change the way it does business."
Bayer Stands Behind Its Products
In its statement, Monsanto's parent company Bayer said it was a disappointment in the jury's ruling.
The German pharmaceutical firm argues that the verdict does not affect the credibility of its products, which have been proven safe and non-carcinogenic by international regulators and decades' worth of extensive science.
Bayer is adamant that the result of Hardeman's lawsuit will not have any bearing on future cases and trials, stating that each one will have its own factual and legal circumstances.
While the company expresses its sympathy for Hardeman and his family, it remains committed to its products and vows to defend them vigorously.
Bayer said it would appeal jury's verdict.
Roundup is currently registered in 130 countries and has been approved for use on over 100 different crops. However, one of the herbicide's base components, glyphosate, has been classified as "probably carcinogenic" to humans by the World Health Organization in 2015.
This led to several complaints and legislative challenges thrown at Monsanto.
In August, a San Francisco court ordered Monsanto to pay $289 million in damages to a 46-year-old former groundskeeper who developed cancer after using Roundup for years, similar to Hardeman's case.
Jurors ruled in favor of Dewayne Johnson's claim that the weed killer caused his terminal illness, and that Monsanto failed to adequately warn him about the health risks.
The herbicide maker had "acted with malice or oppression," according to the jury.