News


Jury awards $2 billion from Monsanto to Livermore couple who developed cancer

Company appealing latest high-price verdict in another Roundup lawsuit

An Alameda County Superior Court jury on Monday awarded more than $2 billion in damages from Monsanto Co. to a Livermore couple who claimed the company's Roundup weedkiller caused both of them to develop cancer, according to a spokeswoman for the plaintiff's lawyers.

The award to Alva and Alberta Pilliod included $1 billion each in punitive damages and $55 million in compensatory damages for economic and non-economic losses for their non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

"We've been fighting cancer for nine years. It was caused by Roundup. We can't do the things we used to do and we really resent Monsanto for that," Alberta Pilliod said at a news conference.

"We thought it was incredibly safe. We wish that Monsanto had warned us ahead of time and there was something on the label that said 'danger, may cause cancer.' We would not have used it," she said.

The couple's case is the third to result in a verdict against Monsanto and is the largest judgment thus far against the agribusiness company, now owned by Bayer AG of Germany.

The three cases are the first to go to trial nationwide among more than 13,000 lawsuits filed in state and federal courts against Monsanto by people who say exposure to Roundup, the world's most widely used herbicide, contributed to their cancer.

The jury in the Pilliod case found that Roundup was a substantial factor in causing the couple's cancers and that Monsanto sold a defective product, failed to warn consumers of the dangers and was negligent.

The punitive damages, according to the verdict, were for "malice, oppression or fraud" on Monsanto's part, defined in the jury instructions as including willful and knowing disregard for human safety.

Monsanto's parent company, Bayer AG of Germany, said it plans to appeal. Bayer bought Monsanto last year for $63 billion.

"We have great sympathy for Mr. and Mrs. Pilliod, but the evidence in this case was clear that both have long histories of illnesses known to be substantial risk factors for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma," Bayer said in a statement.

Bayer pointed to a conclusion by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup, is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans.

Alva Pilliod, 76, and Alberta Pilliod, 74, were diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2011 and 2015. They testified they sprayed Roundup on weeds on several properties for three decades and believed it was safe because the product labels and television advertisements did not warn of a cancer risk.

The Pilliods' lawyers contended during the Oakland trial that Monsanto suppressed or did not show the EPA some unfavorable studies, influenced and sometimes ghostwrote favorable studies and had a cozy relationship with some EPA regulators. They also claimed the addition of a surfactant to spread the product made formulated Roundup more hazardous than glyphosate alone.

The plaintiff attorneys cited a study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, an arm of the World Health Organization, that concluded glyphosate probably causes cancer. Bayer claims the EPA assessment was more robust than the IARC review.

In the first two cases with verdicts against Monsanto, a San Francisco Superior Court jury last year awarded former school groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson of Vallejo $289 million, later reduced by the trial judge to $78 million. In March, a federal jury in San Francisco granted $80 million to Edwin Hardeman of Santa Rosa.

— Bay City News Service

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Comments

1 person likes this
Posted by Grumpy
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on May 13, 2019 at 6:18 pm

Grumpy is a registered user.

Yowzers!


20 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on May 13, 2019 at 6:25 pm

$2B is multi generational wealth. This seems out of alignment with the harm caused.

We have too many lawyers and a “company’s are bad” political environment. Those factors shouldn’t influence the outcome as much as it appears to be doing


32 people like this
Posted by Golden Eagle Res
a resident of Golden Eagle
on May 14, 2019 at 10:02 am

Golden Eagle Res is a registered user.

This is exactly how our legal system is broken and antiquated !
You put 12 uneducated fellow citizens in charge of a highly complex and expensive claim of life and money- then you get this kind of nonsense judgement that has nothing to do with reality! None of this will ever get paid. It will be tied up in courts for the next 10-20 years while the trial attorneys make million of dollars each year to pass the ball back/forth.
The answer is what other developed nations do. The trial for such cases are panels of experts 3-13 members carefully selected by the judge and NOT the attorneys to assess and make a recommendation to the court- similar to our arbitration model. The jury system only serves the attorneys and not the plaintiff or defendants.


3 people like this
Posted by James Michael
a resident of Val Vista
on May 14, 2019 at 11:24 am

James Michael is a registered user.

Golden Eagle is right. And its WAY worse here in the Bay Area with the liberal anti-business attitudes of the residents.


10 people like this
Posted by Dena
a resident of Walnut Hills
on May 15, 2019 at 5:50 pm

Let me explain this to you:
-The verdict is designed to send a message; put other company's on notice
-The message must be loud and clear when your dealing with a company that has the resources that Bayer does
-Are you suggesting they should pay a $100.00 fine and move on?
-This is done to act as a deterrent
-Because of this verdict you assume the jury uneducated; obviously they are more educated than you
-Because we choose to hold companies accountable for reckless endangerment we are now "anti business"?
-Bayer chose to ignore the science for profit, and now they'll pay for that decision


3 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on May 15, 2019 at 7:13 pm

Dena:
Other companies were not on trial in this case.
Monsanto was the single company on trial in this case.

I was called to serve on jury in similar case involving asbestos.
Of the 250 poeple summoned, sixty had college degrees. One hundred had high school degree with one or two years college or business school.

All others never completed highschool, some have learned a trade which they currently worked in.


4 people like this
Posted by James Michael
a resident of Val Vista
on May 15, 2019 at 7:42 pm

James Michael is a registered user.

Another liberal message. Sort of like the one they sent with the Kate Steinle verdict.


15 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 15, 2019 at 7:48 pm

BobB is a registered user.

@Dena,

I don't know how you make the claim that Bayer "chose to ignore science". I hope you are aware that the EPA, the European Chemicals Agency, and many other regulators have found that glyphosate is not likely carcinogenic to humans. Any connection would be highly speculative and not indicated by current studies.

Trying to connect a specific cancer to glyphosate would be even more speculative.

I think it is safe to say that understanding and properly interpreting correlation studies that apply rigorous statistical methods would fly right over the heads of juries like these.


3 people like this
Posted by Dena
a resident of Walnut Hills
on May 15, 2019 at 8:08 pm

"In 2015, however, the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as "probably carcinogenic to humans."

-Monsanto is owned by Bayer
-Looks like it didn't "fly over the heads of the jury"
-I'm sure there's a scientist at Monsanto/Bayer that sounded the alarm and said it wasn't worth it and they were ignored


15 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on May 15, 2019 at 8:19 pm

Dena:
Your reckless speculation substantiates nothing.


8 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 16, 2019 at 1:08 pm

BobB is a registered user.

@Dena,

"Are you suggesting they should pay a $100.00 fine and move on?"

I'm suggesting there shouldn't have been any fine at all and that the case should probably have been dropped long ago. To assert that these particular cancers were definitely caused by exposure to glyphosate and not something else is to misunderstand science and to misunderstand statistics. On top of that, the two top environmental regulatory organizations currently say glyphosate is unlikely to cause cancer.

Clearly the science and math behind this sort of analysis flew right over the heads of the jurors.

Do you have a background in science? Have you ever done correlation studies?


3 people like this
Posted by Dena
a resident of Walnut Hills
on May 16, 2019 at 1:35 pm

"In 2015, however, the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as "probably carcinogenic to humans."

Ever heard of WHO? Yes, I do have a background in science. This product needs to be yanked off the market until its reformulated.

Perhaps you can send a sympathy card to Monsanto/Bayer and maybe just maybe they'll send you a pallet of the product for your personal use.

Good Luck


11 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 16, 2019 at 3:07 pm

BobB is a registered user.

@Dena,

Even if you assume that the EPA and the EU are wrong, and the WHO is right (and that is a pretty big assumption), how can you possibly attribute these particular cancers to that one cause, and not some other cause?

What particular branch of science do you work in? Have you done correlation studies?

We are already dealing with the anti-vaxxer nonsense, and now we have to deal with silly verdicts like this.


7 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 16, 2019 at 3:27 pm

BobB is a registered user.

And if you look at the details of what the WHO concluded -- "UN and WHO panel conclude the herbicide glyphosate is ‘unlikely’ to cause cancer at realistic exposure levels"

Web Link


5 people like this
Posted by FrequentWalkerMiles
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 17, 2019 at 11:40 am

the International Agency for Research on Caner, a WHO component, said that roasted coffee contains a possible carcinogen due to the acrylamide that is classified as a Group 2A carcinogen.

SO get ready to sue Peets everyone! And once the lawsuits go through, watch out Starbucks!


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