Bayer faces second U.S. trial over alleged Roundup cancer risk

February 25 , 2019

Germany-based Bayer AG is facing a second U.S. jury over allegations that its glyphosate-based weed killer Roundup causes cancer, six months after the company’s share price was rocked by a US$289 million verdict in California state court.

A lawsuit by California resident Edwin Hardeman against the company was scheduled to begin on Monday in federal rather than state court Reuters reported.

The trial is also a test case for a larger litigation. More than 760 of the 9,300 Roundup cases nationwide are consolidated in the federal court in San Francisco that is hearing Hardeman’s case, according to the article.

Bayer denies all allegations that Roundup or glyphosate cause cancer.

Under a January ruling by U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria, who presides over the federal litigation, jurors in Hardeman’s case will not initially hear all the evidence presented in last year’s California trial.

Chhabria reportedly called evidence by plaintiffs that the company allegedly attempted to influence regulators and manipulate public opinion “a distraction” from the science in the cases. He said such evidence should only go before the jury in a second trial phase that would only take place if they determined Roundup caused Hardeman’s cancer.

Evidence of corporate misconduct was seen as playing a key role in the finding by a California state court jury in August that Roundup caused another man’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and that Bayer’s Monsanto unit failed to warn consumers about the weed killer’s cancer risks, Reuters reported.

That jury’s US$289 million damages award was later reduced to US$78 million. 

Bayer had not completed the acquisition of Roundup owner, U.S.-based Monsanto, when last year’s trial took place and could therefore only provide limited legal support to Monsanto. But with the traction now finalized, it will be able to take on a much more significant role.

 

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