A Missouri judge reduced almost $1 billion from a monumental jury verdict against Bayer AG’s Monsanto, cutting the punitive damages by over 60% to approximately $550 million.

The judge rejected Monsanto’s appeals for a new trial or complete dismissal of the November verdict but made a significant cut to the punitive damages. 

“While the court reduced the unconstitutionally excessive damage award, the Company believes that the court did not apply the law correctly on damages and will be filing an appeal,” AG Bayer wrote in a statement following the March decision.

The case involved three plaintiffs who claimed they used and sprayed Roundup weed killer in their yards for years and developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The residential weedkiller once contained glyphosate, but the formulation has since changed. Commercial formulations containing glyphosate are still available for sale.

The reduction in the verdict was anticipated, as the U.S. Supreme Court has established that punitive damages must be proportional to compensatory damages. In this case, the jury awarded $61.2 million in compensatory damages, while the punitive damages initially set at $1.5 billion were disproportionately higher.

Bayer Faces Series of High Dollar Verdicts

Bayer, a German company, acquired U.S. agrochemical giant Monsanto for $63 billion in 2018. Since then, Bayer has had to defend against mounting lawsuits alleging that the chemical herbicide caused serious health issues, including cancer, and that they failed to warn users of the risks.

In the last year alone, Bayer faced several high-dollar verdicts. According to Bayer’s litigation webpage, the company states it will continue to try cases and appeal verdicts against the company. 

Recent Roundup cases have received these verdicts: 

  • In January 2024, a Philadelphia jury awarded $250 million in compensatory damages and $2 billion in punitive damages.
  • A December 2023 trial resulted in $500,000 in compensatory damages and $3 million in punitive damages.
  • In October 2023, a jury awarded $25 million in compensatory damages and $150 million in punitive damages.

It’s possible the awards in these cases could be cut to follow the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling. 

“The judge actually agreed with the plaintiffs’ suggestion the punitive-damages amounts be reduced to nine times their actual damages,” Jay Utley, a lawyer for the former Roundup users, told The Insurance Journal in an email. 

“The awards align with the evidence of Monsanto’s willful, malicious, and reckless disregard for the safety of consumers and the injuries suffered by these plaintiffs.”

Roundup Lawsuits Ongoing

Many plaintiffs who have filed Roundup Lawsuits claim that exposure to the chemical caused them to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of cancer that starts in the white blood cells in the lymph nodes.

There are numerous ongoing personal injury and environmental lawsuits and lawyers continue to take on new cases. Courts have grouped individual lawsuits into ongoing multidistrict litigation and as of April 2024, 4,281 cases were pending.

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